A Star Is Born

November 13, 2009 § Leave a comment

The Los Angeles Philharmonic has certainly rolled out the red carpet.  From mugs, to t-shirts, to billboards, to online video games (not to mention actually spelling his name out in fireworks), the staff at the LA Phil is well their way to positioning their new conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, as no less than “classical music royalty”.  

While plastering faces on buses and hanging banners all over town may seem over the top, the effect felt by these advertising techniques is measurable.  In addition to massive amounts media coverage, the response from the general public has been overwhelmingly positive.  “He’s a genuine star,” said Martin Kaplan, a former movie executive and professor at USC.  “He’s young. He has amazing hair.  He has a great back story.  He has a fantastic name.  He’s the dude!”  At 28 years old, Gustavo “The Dude” Dudamel’s star power has already been compared to that of Leonard Bernstein.

So what’s the price tag on all this?  The LA Phil has spend $750,000 beyond their usual advertising budget to promote Mr. Dudamel.  Is it worth it?  I guess we’ll find out.    In the mean time, the LA Phil has capitalized on a great opportunity– a new, incredibly talented, young conductor.  While the promotional methods they’ve undertaken may seem somewhat unconventional in classical music, I applaud their efforts.  Arts marketing in the 21st century is a difficult task– we have to convey the intrinsic value of what we’re producing, while simultaneously creating a pitch that’s enticing to current and potential audiences. 

Don’t have $750,000 to commit?  Explore viral marketing strategies, or promotional events.  Have your music director appear on local morning shows.  Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from for-profit companies, or even athletics.  The bottom line is that we need to generate more buzz, and get people excited about what we’re doing.  We shouldn’t feel compelled to stick with traditional concepts, or scared to try new ones.

Certainly a little creativity will be necessary, but hey– we’re the arts!

– Katie


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