Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra—MySpace.com
A social network for the young and culturally savvy
In January of 2006 the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra became the first American orchestra to have an active account on MySpace. They have since been joined by many other classical music organizations, including the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, the Ravinia Festival, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. LACO’s MySpace account grew out of the audience development program Pulse, which has been a part of LACO for the last season and a half. LACO Pulse is the orchestra’s network of young professionals, a “social network for the young and culturally savvy.” Pulse focuses on bringing this younger generation to concerts, and giving them a social outlet without taking the focus away from the music. MySpace helps to enable this music-centric social outlet using a medium understood and appreciated by that demographic. The MySpace account also creates awareness with other users who may not be familiar with classical music. Since MySpace has been a popular way for bands to promote themselves—and even for individuals to promote their favorite artists—it’s a logical step for orchestras to take advantage of the site’s musically oriented culture
How it works:
Because several staff members of LACO were already members of the MySpace community, the orchestra’s venture had the benefit of experienced guides. The account is free, and nearly as simple to establish as signing up for a free e-mail account. The orchestra began by creating a profile, and then applied for a band profile instead of an individual account. This distinction removed the questions of gender, marital status, zodiac sign, and other personal descriptors. Instead, the orchestra was able to place up to four music clips on the page, as well as listing “band” members (the entire LACO roster), its recording labels, and its tour dates. The switch took one day, and once the categories had been filled, the page went live. To keep the page fresh and interesting, the site does require continual upkeep.
MySpace is primarily a networking medium, allowing any member of the community to connect with any other member, simply by requesting to be a friend. If the friend request is accepted, the applicant will be able to leave messages on the new friend’s page, communicating through short witticisms and often leaving images. LACO accepts nearly all friend requests. LACO has a friend network of individuals in the greater Los Angeles area, as well as friends from around the country and from such countries as including England, Norway, Australia, and Thailand. LACO’s friends also include artists who have MySpace accounts, such as Hilary Hahn, Edgar Meyer and Gabriel Kahane.
The MySpace page includes photos of concerts and musicians. While MySpace allows for videos on the site, LACO has not used this feature yet. The ability to include short streaming music clips of previous orchestra concerts is invaluable. When inviting local friends to upcoming concerts, LACO does not use the MySpace function to send bulk "invites" to all friends or post a "bulletin" to their sites. Instead, LACO sends personalized requests by posting a comment directly to that friend’s MySpace site.
Where it’s going:
Currently, LACO has more than 850 friends on their MySpace site. There are between 110 and 115 friends who reside in the greater Los Angeles area. LACO’s website, slated for significant revision in September/October 2006, will host the Pulse program and subsequently link to the MySpace page. Additionally, the orchestra plans to join other online communities including Flickr, the online photo sharing and storage service; Classical Lounge, a classical music networking site very similar to MySpace; and potentially LiveJournal, a communication tool allowing users to create a private or public journal. The new LACO website will also feature a blog. Online communities are growing faster than many expected; in the span of LACO’s participation, the MySpace community has grown from 76 million users to a current 107 million.
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