Orchestra of Southern Utah Podcasts
Double the audience and widen public exposure through podcasting concerts
Along with iTunes, the popularity of podcasting has grown as fast as the iPod. The Orchestra of Southern Utah followed this fast track to younger audiences and reached them through their headphones. The orchestra realized the growing popularity of podcasting and began experimenting with it as a way to expand their listening audience and public exposure.
How it Works:
Unlike negotiated contracts with iTunes or other online music distributors, podcasting can be a free method to spread an entire concert or a portion of a concert to listeners across the globe. OSU podcasts generally span an hour in length, but have reached 3 hours to include a full opera. Podcast length is only limited by the orchestra's server storage size, which has subsequently been upgraded to 100 gigabytes to allow for the longer length and greater amount of downloads. The podcasts can be downloaded by anyone with an Internet connection—without fees or other obligations. This is truly free advertisement, marketed to a demographic that already subscribes to podcasts. Aside from iTunes, OSU podcasts are also available on Podomatic, the web site where the OSU podcasts are stored and created. Podomatic allows for integration with iTunes and other Internet music services, as well as storage for podcasts and a listener call-in line, allowing listeners to leave messages for the podcast moderator. The site also tracks statistics such as the number of daily downloads. The Orchestra of Southern Utah began podcasting recitals in September 2005, but soon expanded to include entire symphony concerts. The podcasts grew to include interviews with music director Xun Sun, as well as the occasional comment from a musician or audience member. By the end of the 2005-06 season, the podcasts were uploaded after every concert.
The inaugural podcast in September 2005 capped at 200 downloads. With each new posting, the number of downloads increased; the most recent posting—the tenth to date—recorded 800 downloads. There are nearly 300 regular subscribers to OSU podcasts, meaning that every time a podcast becomes available, it is automatically downloaded on the subscriber’s computer. Recently, the OSU podcasts reached more than 400 downloads in the first month, with additional downloads coming after that time. The number of downloads is nearing the total audience count. The downloads are not centralized to the local community; they have found reception as far away as Japan, Brazil, and Australia. Most of the U.S. downloads are coming from larger metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and the Eastern Seaboard. The podcasts offered by the OSU have ranked in the Podomatic daily top 100 music podcasts, consistently ranking in the 70s but peaking at number 37. While the effect of the podcasting is felt in the concert hall through the visible presence of younger attendees, the OSU has not created any specific audience surveys to track the results. The orchestra assumes that the increased presence of a younger audience directly correlates with the podcast releases. By next season (2006-07), the OSU hopes to reach more than 1,000 downloads per podcast.
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