Goldstar epiphany: Lumping all music together, and how it changes arts marketing

When Goldstar removed the “Classical” category from their search options last year, I was annoyed.  No longer can we easily go to their extensive listings and find just the things that we’re interested in. The insanely popular discount ticket site covers thousands of live events across the country each week, and in dozens of categories.  That’s a lot of noise.

winds_of_changeBut now that I’ve worked with it awhile, it makes some sense, particularly in the face of the massive changes going on in music.  Labels are falling away.  Artists are crossing borders.  There are still skill gaps between communities, of course: from the hiring perspective, labels serve as guidelines and  will continue to exist in some form, as no one does everything — most pop stars don’t sing opera, and while I can swing in a cabaret, I’m a proven flop at hip-hop.  (Karaoke is very revealing.)

  • Labels are falling away.  Artists are crossing borders.

But as genres meld and audiences feel less loyalty to one style alone, Goldstar’s approach creates a sort of textural smorgasbord that challenges us to listen more, stretch boundaries and try new things. Besides, how else are we to build audiences if our event listings are squirreled away under a classical label, where so many people would never bother to look?  Being lumped in with “mainstream” selections could be the best thing for us.

Marketing shift

Here’s what it means for arts marketers:  you must make absolutely sure that your graphics and copy are as compelling as the rock concert next to you in the feed.

No more small pond
No more small pond

Around the world, classical is competing not only in its own little pond, but in a vast sea of options.  It’s time to step it up and stay away from staid pictures of orchestras and nondescript clumps of people holding folders. Show us the action, the drama, the passion of your event, even if you’re presenting yet another Messiah.  Give us a reason to care! Take a look at what other venues are doing and see if it sparks some new ideas.  In order to stake your claim in the noisy world of entertainment, your event must look as good as it sounds.

Expand your own perspective

Finally, broad-based event sites such as this also offer a gateway to new ideas, and classical musicians of all kinds should be making better use of such easy access.  When was the last time you went to an event completely outside your own realm?  Make a habit of trying something new in theater, film, rock/pop, mime, comedy, etc., and see what you can learn from other artists.  Watch their audience.  Talk to people.  Find out what works and what doesn’t, and take note of the marketing and experiential elements that you might adapt to your next project (with your own spin, of course).

  • When was the last time you went to an event outside your own realm?

I can’t wait to see what y’all come up with, no matter where you’re spreading the word about your events.  We’ll be watching…  now get out there and watch something (anything), yourself!

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