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The Art of Wooing Commitment-Phobes

Thursday, October 30, 2014   (0 Comments)

New York Times (10/12/14) Tommasini, Anthony

A decline in purchases of orchestra subscriptions by concertgoers is forcing orchestras to be creative with programming and presentation. Eighty-three percent of the New York Philharmonic's ticket sales were sold on subscription two decades ago, versus 54 percent for last season. Analysts say this trend is being driven by people who are acclimated to choosing their own times for experiencing entertainment, and who do not like planning months in advance. “It’s forcing our planning to be inspired and compelling,” notes New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert. “We have to sell individual events. It’s hard, but there’s a great part of that.” Gilbert says the Philharmonic is mulling announcing half a season at a time so it has room for more spur-of-the-moment events. The erosion in subscribers could increase orchestras' willingness to commit larger portions of their season to mini-festivals offering one-time programs associated with an overarching theme. New York Philharmonic president Matthew VanBesien says a positive development amid subscription attrition is an increase in the audience pool, with last season's ticket buyers coming from 66,000 unique households, compared to about 38,000 10 years ago. VanBesien says there also is still value ascribed to the subscription model, one example being the lower cost of marketing subscription tickets compared to individual tickets.

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