Friday, February 27, 2009

Barack 2.0

Are you an executive with a classical music Arts Organization? Are you suffering from a decline in your audience? Are you struggling to determine how to keep your donations at the level necessary to sustain your quality and presence? Are the old mechanisms for audience development and fund raising failing you?

Perhaps you should "get with the times"! Barack Obama was a black man who's middle name was Hussein. He was a one term senator with much less that 10% name recognition. He was competing against Hillary Clinton who had over 95% name recognition, a list of major donors a mile long, the support of the entire democratic establishment and was a prohibitive favorite to win the democratic nomination. Against those odds, in a period of 18 months, Obama raised more money than any candidate in history, won the nomination and became the 44th President of the United States. How did he do it?

A new book has just been released by It is sub-titled "Barack Obama's Social Media Lessons for Business". A brief excerpt:

"Barack Obama's victory was due to an extraordinary internet presence and a solid policy for engaging his potential constituents."

"What was truly historic in a different way was that this was the first time a digital community was a prime mover in a successful election. In the Barack Obama campaign the internet housed a community that helped drive his victory. The tools - the social media like blogs, texting, podcasts... outreach programs aimed at external communities and social networks...led to the record millions in donations and the enormous volunteer armies that did the sweat work day in and day out to make Barack Obama POTUS." (President of the United States).

Politics will never be the same! You can find this invaluable guide on Check it out by following the link below:

Barack 2.0

In these days of economic crisis it is critical that Arts Organizations engage their constituents in the same way that the Obama campaign engaged their voters. The audience must be promoted from their historic roles as listeners and attendees to their new role as classical music missionaries. They must be made to understand the crises faced by the classical music that they love. They must be recruited to become part of the campaign to save that music and the arts organizations that make it possible. You - their local Arts Organization - must motivate them to engage in audience development by reaching out to and recruiting the "fans who don't know they are fans". You must also motivate them to donate the small sums they can afford and to solicit their friends and colleagues to do the same. Only the internet can make such solicitations cost effective. You will be astonished by how fast these donations can add up. The social networking tools needed to drive this kind of program are well understood. They are, however, useless unless they are marshaled by a dedicated, focused, sustained and inspirational program. To accomplish such a program, Arts Organizations need to staff a full-time position which is exclusively focused on building these sustained internet campaigns. This position should be staffed by someone under the age of 30 - someone who has lived the new media experience and understands it down to their very core. I have often heard that organizations cannot afford such a position. Baloney! 21st Century Arts Organizations will not survive without a focused new-media program and the dedicated leadership to drive it!

There is some help! Most organizations cannot afford to build the infrastructure to deliver this campaign from scratch. I hope that the tools we have created at can make such an effort affordable and successful for a wide range of classical music participants. Check us out:

I will be sharing success stories and promoting a dialog on how to really make this work in future posts. Good luck to you all.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Real 21st Century Artist

Shepard Fairey has recently become front page news as a result of his Obama “Hope” poster. Fairey started as a street artist who regularly got arrested while painting his work on buildings and in other public places. Before the internet he would Xerox his work and hand it out on the streets and at events. He would encourage the recipients to copy it again and distribute it further. After the internet he became a master at viral distribution of his work. In the process he has managed to keep a counter culture image while becoming the image designer for such commercial icons as Saks.

Fairey is a classical example of the 21st century artist who uses his work as the primary tool to expand awareness and to promote his commercial career. The cognitive dissonance of giving his work away and charging for it at the same time is not a mystery to him, it is his natural process. There is a wonderful interview with Terry Gross at Fresh Air which illustrates his strategy in his own words. If you are interested the link to the interview is below:

Fresh Air Interview - Shepard Fairey

There is much that can be learned from this and applied to classical music.

Someone alerted me to another great piece from 60 minutes:

Sixty Minutes Interview