Houston Symphony Orchestra: Wavelength

Break dancing and blogs, all at the symphony

The premise:

Houston Symphony’s wavelength is an audience development program initiated as part of an effort to bring younger audiences to the Symphony, focusing on increasing interest and attendance in classical concerts from patrons between the ages of 15-29. The goal of wavelength is to create a totally new and fresh experience of the Symphony – one that is entirely accessible and catered to the needs of the target audience.

How does it work:

wavelength offers the following:

  • a highly affordable price of $8 to attend concerts
  • an easy and Internet-based way to purchase tickets
  • a separately-branded Web site including a musician blog, picture gallery, movie and audio clips
  • invitations to social events that are atypical and collaborative with other modern art forms (such as break-dance, DJ spinning, and local band highlights)
  • opportunities to form a deeper connection to Symphony musicians through musician presence at events and via the Web site
  • the opportunity to make attending a concert a larger event through a benefits program that earns members discounts at nearby restaurants and clubs

Early results:

Currently, in its inaugural season, 750 members are signed up for wavelength, and events have ranged in attendance from 50 to 300 young patrons per concert.

What’s to be learned:

Young audiences can indeed be interested in the Symphony experience if it’s one that is created to meet their specific and specialized needs. These needs must be continuously evaluated given the rapid and ongoing development of technological and social trends within this audience segment.

Additionally, a key part of attracting young audiences is to capitalize on the power of word of mouth promotions by involving influential members of the younger community in marketing efforts.

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