LA Phil Aims at Fresh Young Patronage

How to develop future financial support for the symphony? Free drinks. 

While the classical arts may be ageless, their patrons aren't. Keenly aware of their aging donor base, for years symphonies, ballet, and opera companies across the country have struggled with how to attract young people to what has often been seen as something that only old, white, rich people do. If one saw a 20-something in the audience of any given symphony, he or she was probably a budding musician. Everyone else that age was at a rock concert or a club.

The question became: how to attract and keep people in their 20s and 30s who didn't have prior experience of classical music? The gang at the Los Angeles Philharmonic have been parsing that one for a while, and, taking a page from the New York Philharmonic's Young New Yorkers program, they've just announced their newest marketing plan that seems to be aimed at engaging a youthful base of future support: CODA.

CODA is a membership group that functions like, and shares many of the same benefits as, the symphony's long-standing donor-membership group Friends and Patrons of the LA Phil; except that it's specifically made for music lovers in their 20s and 30s. While benefits programs for annual donors are nothing new to the symphony, their being tailored to a younger adult crowd are. Given the success of the LA Phil's large community outreach programs for children on one end and the Friends program that typically comprises older patrons on the other, it's surprising they've waited this long to tailor something to this crowd. The Young New Yorkers program has been around since 1994.

For the moment, the folks at the Phil are calling CODA a marketing initiative, not a donor initiative. They're testing the waters before asking the members for money. In this inaugural year, the membership fee is waived and future fees have not been determined, according to the LA Phil's PR team. 

The perks are similar to those of the Friends and Patrons group: meet-and-greets with musicians and artistic guests; discounted tickets; concert after-parties exclusively for members -- guaranteeing one gets to party only with peers, and free drinks. Although, the complimentary drinks listed on the LA Phil's website as a benefit of CODA are not blatantly stated as a benefit on the Friends and Patrons page. This symphony really knows its target demographic. 


thedevilcorp said…
Good post.

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