Making Opera Cool

Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I mean when you think of opera do you think of toe tapping, knee slapping fine entertainment? Hip? Cool?

Probably not. And yet that is just what the new general manager, Peter Gelb, is doing for the metropolitan opera in New York.

He was one of the guest speakers during Music Week at the Chautauqua Institute last week and his message was one that we can all learn from.

When he took over the opera last year the average age of his audience was 65 – not exactly hip and with it. Sales were down and a much loved musical institution appeared to be heading down a slippery slope.

His challenge was to bring new life to the opera without alienating his loyal following. He put together a seven part plan which he presented to performers, contributors and fans. See how his plan can work for you:

1. Develop informal and audience outreach (get feedback from customers)

2. Increase the number of new productions from 4 to 7 or 8 (increase product offerings)

3. Put a greater emphasis on more performances with the greatest singers (highlighting most popular products and services)

4. Perform contemporary work on a regular basis to expand the repertoire (bring product line up to date and include items that appeal to a younger audience)

5. Produce an annual holiday entertainment for families that does not diminish high results (invite your customers in for a special sale, one day event)

6. Rebuild ties with the art world (reach out to vendors and like-minded businesses for partnerships where possible)

7. Take advantage of modern media technology (what is your Internet Marketing strategy?)

The result? He took a business with a negative sales trend year on year to an increase in audience participation of 7% and subscriptions up 11%. He also had a huge increase in sold out performances.

He is successfully taking a musical art form thought to be for the aged and making it cool, contemporary and desired.

Can you use any of Gelb’s seven part plan for your business?