Show Notes:

Main Takeaways:

  • Brian and Phillip are joined in today's episode by Aubrey Bergauer, Vice President of Strategic Communications & Executive Director of the Center for Innovative Leadership at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Chief Executive Officer of Changing the Narrative.
  • Aubrey is changing the narrative of orchestra direction and bringing arts management into the digital world.
  • When the product is not the problem, how do you pinpoint and address issues in customer retention and sales?
  • Reaching new audiences should take priority over catering to your most loyal customers when it comes to designing your marketing.

Aubrey Bergauer: A History:

  • Phillip met Aubrey at the 2019 Magento Imagine Conference.
  • Aubrey is a self-proclaimed classical music nerd and has wanted to run a classical music program since high school (which no one ever says).
  • When she was in high school, her orchestra went through a management change, and that is when the lightbulb went off that that was what she wanted to do.
  • She has been combining her degrees in performance and business for fifteen years in a career in arts management.

Digging Deeper: Some More Detail on a Passion of Music:

  • Believe it or not, Aubrey played the tuba, which is such a large instrument that she had to sit on phone books to play when she was younger.
  • Aubrey liked the feeling of breaking the mold when it came to playing the tuba, a trend which continues into her current life.
  • The tuba wasn't developed until much later in comparison to other instruments in the orchestra, so Aubrey's favorite music correlates with the time of its development.
  • Sergey Prokofiev is one of her favorite composers, and his 5th Symphony is one of her favorite pieces.

Instigating for Change: Redefining the Orchestra Playbook:

  • The playbook for orchestras has existed for decades, and the art form as a whole has been around for hundreds of years.
  • Orchestras were founded at a time when arts and culture were synonymous with entertainment, and about half of the revenue comes from ticket sales, and the other half would come from donations.
  • As the 20th century progressed, loyalty became more fleeting, so the subscription model dwindled in comparison to patrons buying single tickets.
  • Aubrey points out that the subscription model isn't dead, but how do you achieve loyalty amongst your customer base?

Music is What We Do Best: Perpetuating Through Advancement:

  • Classical music has survived as an art form for hundreds of years because the music is so good.
  • There is an oversupply of musicians, which means that everyone in an orchestra is at the top of their field.
  • The enduring level of talent in musicians highlights that the problem regarding audience attendance doesn't lie in the music itself, but rather in the customer base.
  • How do you program towards audience behavior that contrasts with more traditional orchestra models?

Attracting New Audiences: Shifting from the Paradigm of the Past:

  • Aubrey states that the website for the San Francisco Conservatory of music is the most public-facing ambassador in their organization.
  • More people visit their website than will ever visit the orchestra in person.
  • When thinking about the digital experience, many first-timers did not return because their digital experience was awful.
  • Website visitors would give feedback stating that they did not understand the terminology used on the site, which provides Aubrey and her team with actionable changes.

Reaching Beyond the Insiders: Widening Your Acquisition Nets:

  • In general, orchestras have traditionally designed their websites, assuming their visitors will have a baseline level of knowledge that doesn't exist.
  • The people who do have this level of knowledge are already your subscribers, so stop designing for them and focus on the vast majority of people that don't fit into this category.
  • How do you facilitate change in a world that is based upon tradition and established values?
  • Jargony words and technical language is a gatekeeper that deters an audience that you have not reached.

Going Further: The Product Is Not the Problem:

  • When you have a good product, and people enjoy, you need to take a step back and analyze what is causing your brand not to be successful.
  • Amazon Prime is changing expectations with product discovery by providing a new experience when it comes to the process of finding new products.
  • Who is the tastemaker in an orchestra?
  • There has been a movement that has evolved the typical curated experience in which orchestra attendees prefer to have more choice in what they experience with their orchestra.

The Long Haul Model: Solving Traditional Problems:

  • How do you pay homage to a traditionally elevated experience yet still update that experience and make it fun by modern standards?
  • Aubrey explains the Long Haul Model, which is a new paradigm that solves the problems of audience attrition, churn, and aging.
  • No matter who you are in relation to an organization, the model says that there is just one next step for you to take as an attendee.
  • Instead of separate departments, Aubrey created one patron loyalty department that executes the Long Haul model.

Non-Profit Boards: An Outdated Model?:

  • Non-profits have boards with people who have roles at for-profit businesses who then govern an institution that is not a for-profit business.
  • For-profit employees typically haven't been trained to manage non-profit businesses and represent 1% of dedicated orchestra-goers.
  • As leaders in the arts, data should be used much more in regards to making business decisions because your audience is an essential part of your organization.
  • How do you leverage data when it comes to appeasing a board?

The Future Commerce Sendoff: Challenges in the Next Five Years:

  • The changing demographics of this country are a big challenge to overcome when it comes to classical music organizations that are typically "super white and play a lot of music by dead white guys."
  • Orchestras are over-indexing on white audiences and trying to design for them when that is a shrinking percentage of the population.
  • How do orchestras become more inclusive, more welcoming, more inviting, and less elitist?
  • The arts have to make a case for support when there are so many more social justice causes that are also asking for help.

Brands Mentioned in this Episode:

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