Social media – apps, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and many more – are no longer virgin soil for many orchestras and opera houses; or if they are, they will need to adapt, and fast.
These media will be key to keep old audiences and reach new ones, develop revenue streams and create powerful marketing opportunities. Digital Concert Hall of the Berlin Phil has been one of the most successful developments in this field (more than 600.000 “likes” on Facebook). But other orchestras are stepping forward, too. For example the Detroit Symphony claims itself with free webcasts as the “most accessible orchestra” in the world. At the same time, however, social media do have their pitfalls and follow their own rules that differ from print media or even Web 1.0 media. While aiming to convey spontaneity, they nonetheless require careful planning, and, as dialogic instruments, must be more than a platform to hand out information.
One has to look specifically at some cases of video trailers, from musicians’ home stories to sneak previews that whet viewers’ appetites for more. But caution: to be successful, media presentations have to be of solid quality – or risk ending up being well-meant rather than well-done. Some orchestras, such as the London Symphony Orchestra or the South Carolina Philharmonic, seem to be ahead in the game: often more relaxed and humorous, their tweets and Instagram posts present the ensembles as accessible and fun, successfully connecting with the mainly young users and dispelling the stuffy image of classical music.
The internet has also transformed ticketing. Booking a ticket has become possible from virtually anywhere, and it often allows a quicker and more convenient selection of seats. Even so, some teething problems remain: print@home tickets require scanner technology not every theatre can afford and the use of ticketing services, in Europe such as CTS Eventim, can increase prices.
Another popular tool is YouTube (for example the London Philharmonic Orchetra amongst many others) in particular. Orchestras reach out to audiences with an attractive age profile (mostly 13 to 35 years), increase the possibilities of direct communication as well as quantitative and qualitative audience research. Yet in Germany and many other central Euopean states hardly any orchestra fully utilises the potential of YouTube, typically offering only a small number of videos and neglecting feedback on user comments.