Berlin – The German Music and Orchestra Association unisono presented current audience trends for classical concerts, opera and ballet. Between December 2022 and January 2023, a total of 122 out of 129 German opera, concert and radio orchestras took part in an online survey. This corresponds to a rate of 95 percent.

“Basically, there is a positive trend towards the return of classical music audiences. The halls fill up again. That’s good news,” says Gerald Mertens, Managing Director of unisono. “However, the level before Corona has not yet been reached again, say almost 60 percent of the orchestras surveyed. 46 percent of the orchestras and opera houses still report a strong reluctance, especially among older audiences. However, there were also events that were sold out during the survey period.”

When asked about the reasons, 98 orchestras primarily named popular programs and popular works. 68 orchestras were busy with special formats such as special concerts on New Year’s Eve and live film concerts. 35 orchestras also saw prominent conductors and soloists as the main reasons for the high demand.

The development of subscriptions is more difficult. 76 orchestras have lost subscribers (62 percent of those surveyed) and 36 orchestras have roughly maintained their subscriptions (30 percent). Only one orchestra could increase the number of subscribers. 60 orchestras (approx. 50 percent of those surveyed) saw the complete suspension of subscriptions during the pandemic as the main reason for the slump in subscriptions. 47 orchestras also see the fear of older subscribers to return to events.

Need for more action, especially with subscriptions, new formats and marketing

“The challenges for orchestras and opera houses for the coming months and the next season are clearly outlined,” says Mertens. “Subscriptions have to be rebuilt at many locations. The opera houses and orchestras absolutely must further intensify the direct connection to their audience. It is promising to continue trying out new and smaller formats. In addition, marketing must be further professionalized and strengthened.”