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Discover the most interesting happenings in ensemble music – both locally and around the world – in lively posts by Jason and our staff.

Orchestra and audiences: All about attention

wcfsymphony Audience

‘It’s attention that is key; our attention is a zero sum resource – every minute I spend playing a game, for example, is a minute I don’t spend watching TV. And, if any company ‘cracks’ TV, it’s not that they’ve figured out how to do TV better, but that they’ve figured out how to win a greater and greater share of consumer’s attention by doing the same jobs that TV does, but better.’

One of Ben Thompson’s superb insights into television and the potential undoing of its business model. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, himself aggressively seeking to become better than television at several of TV’s traditional jobs, offers a compelling summary of the issue:

‘What we’re really competing for quite broadly is people’s time.’

Here at wcfsymphony we have been involved in an in-depth examination of the conditions under which symphonic ensembles operate. One of the critical themes to emerge in our study has been orchestras’ increasing inability to compete for audience attention and, more specifically, time. Like TV studios [and the major music labels before them] we are overly focused on maximizing lucrative short term opportunities, stuck on a micro view of our relationship with audiences, and lacking sympathy for the historical and social contexts of the art form. Only when we as an industry fully embrace Hastings’ and Thompson’s long views will we begin to turn the tides of attention currently ebbing away from us.