Reimagining the Orchestra Subscription Model

It’s no accident that the most influential book in our field may have been Danny Newman’s Subscribe Now!.  Selling tickets by subscription has long been the foundation of orchestras’ earned revenue stream. And most orchestra musicians who’ve had to pay attention to their orchestra’s finances have heard some variant on how the subscription model is fading due to the aging of the audiences who grew up with that model.
The League of American Orchestras commissioned a study of subscription sales trends from Oliver Wyman, a major international business consulting firm. (In the interests of full discloser, I am a member of the board of the League of American Orchestras, although I had no direct involvement in the study beyond that.) The results were far from gloomy. While the study did show declines in subscription sales overall, it also found reason to believe that there was considerable potential to grow both the numbers of subscribers and the potential for subscription income by pursuing strategies that have worked for some for-profit entertainment and travel companies. The full study can be dowloaded from this page, but this article is a very good place to begin.

— Robert Levine

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