Sunday, June 2, 2013

Orchestras and Social Media 2

Time to update the usage stats for the social media campaigns of orchestras in this part of the world.


Changes over the last quarter are below.


Some of these numbers are a bit deceptive, coming as they do off small bases, but one of the inescapable conclusions is that the Facebook “Talking About” metric has dropped like a rock for most orchestras, yet rocketed for the NZSO and risen sharply for the SSO and TSO.

Why is this?

I’m not really sure because I mostly avoid Facebook like a bad cliche, but they are clearly doing something to keep their Facebook fans engaged which the others are missing.  Elsewhere the QSO have put in big effort on the Youtube front, and have now amassed over 44,000 views (they’ll catch the MSO soon at this rate).  The SSO has also continued their success with Youtube, posting a 79% increase on an already big number to achieve almost 1 million views.  Impressive, although they still have a way to go to catch PSY, who’s about to notch up 2.8 billion views.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Limelight Orchestra Ratings

Limelight magazine has gone all `My School’ and rated the six major symphony orchestras around Australia.  It did so using a panel of 15 judges who were provided with anonymous recordings of various pieces performed by the orchestras during 2012.

As you might expect, the smallest and least funded of the six orchestras (Tasmania) came in 6th, while the largest and most heavily funded orchestra (Sydney) came first.  However, that was where the relationship between Limelight rating and $ spent broke down, as this chart demonstrates:

Limelight Rating

Significant kudos accrues to the QSO and particularly the ASO for generating strong results from modest spending.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Orchestras and Social Media

Here’s where we currently stand on social media usage in Australian (+NZ) orchestras:


The Melbourne and Sydney symphonies may be duking it out over Twitter and facebook, but once YouTube views are taken into account it’s a massive win for Sydney.  One interesting facet of its social media presence is the relationship between facebook “likes” and facebook “talking about” – a mere 3%.  Analysts say that counting “likes” is a poor indicator of the success or failure of a social media strategy, as building this number is simply a function of how many iPads you want to give away (“Like us today and you could win one of umpteen iPads!”).  The “talking about” metric is presumably a better indicator of engagement, as opposed to the simple (albeit legally contested) clicking of the little thumbs up icon.

Another thing to consider about the Sydney symphony is the astoundingly bad results they get on the “Stupid Fight” indicator, which measures the stupidity and/or banality of the tweets offered up by fans and followers of a Twitter user, based on the incidence of various stupid abbreviations (ROFL, OMG), overuse of exclamation marks (ROFL!!!), inability to distinguish between upper and lower case, etc.  Here’s the results of a head to head battle between the MSO and the SSO:


Note that MSO fans score a highly respectable “smart as a whip” 20, while the SSO strays into “thick as two short planks” territory with an astounding 300.  Perhaps this is correlated with the number of facebook likes (OMG!! i won an ipad!!!). Mind you, trumping them all is the ASO, whose small number of Twitter followers have compiled a remarkable 315.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra–what did I miss?

As I related here I’ve been having some issues getting hold of an MSO 2013 program guide – they’re loathe to provide a pdf document online, preferring instead to go all retro and send one through the mail.  This finally arrived today – I feel like sending someone a thankyou fax,  or possibly a telegram. 

Anyway, my surprise at their choice of delivery channel was nothing compared to my surprise at the results when I crunched the numbers.  In common with the ASO, the MSO repertoire safety index has plunged, going from 7.0 to 5.7, with a lot more big names and their warhorses being trotted out.  This isn’t particularly surprising, as the index tends to bounce around from year to year, but what was really astounding was the % of the MSO 2013 program composed by Australians….2%.  Surely I’m missing something!  Did that bit of the program get lost in the mail?* They’ve got a reasonable % of pieces composed by living writers (15%), but where’s the local talent?  As the following table shows, the MSO are now squarely in WASO territory as far as this metric is concerned:


As for the rest of it, the plunge in the MSO and ASO safety index numbers needs to be put in the context of a remarkable leap in the QSO rating.  The playlist factor – which endeavours to assess what % of orchestra programs appear on those top 100/top 200/top whatever lists that abound on the web – behaves inversely to the safety index, as you’d expect.



Finally, the MSO manages a reasonable 15% on the”live music” score (i.e. music composed by people who are still with us):


Notwithstanding all this, the MSO deserves some kudos for including Conlon Nancarrow in its list.  He’s not Australian, and he doesn’t add to the live music factor (d. 1997), but as the author of numerous studies for player piano (e.g. here) I feel he warrants a tip of the hat, as here is some piano music I feel I could get to grips with.

* To be fair, the MSO did sneak a couple of locally made pieces into one of their Sidney Myer outdoor concerts – Edwards’ Full Moon Dances (which I saw last year, and is a terrific piece of music), and Broadstock’s Federation Flourish (which I don’t know at all). Including these would have lifted them to a still-anaemic 4%, but in any event I exclude free concerts from these listings as ultimately I’d like to look for the correlation between ticket sales and program content.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 Repertoire Safety Index

The 2013 Repertoire Safety Index is finally ready, although unfortunately it's a bit shy on detail this year as I've been unable to load up the programs for both the Melbourne Symphony and the NZ Symphony.  Both of these have adopted the (in my view daft) approach of listing individual concerts on their websites without making their actual programs accessible as pdf documents, either directly or (as in the case of the ACO) via  In the case of the Melbourne Symphony, the "request a brochure" (via snailmail!) feature on their website yielded no results at all.  A direct approach to @MelbSymphony via Twitter also drew a blank.  I think they'd prefer it if I just drove over there.

In due course I'm sure they'll make their programs available, and to this end I've enlisted the help of the MSO's associate conductor and Richmond FC booster Ben Northey (who I'm sure can spot a social media clanger a mile off).  Failing that I'll just have to go through the two websites concert-by-concert and catalogue their programs (maybe).

Anyway, there's been a bit of movement in the Repertoire Safety Index edging up from 6.6 to 6.7 (bearing in mind that the lower the number, the safer the programming).  

The ACO has had a meaningful jump from 8.9 to 9.8, although its still less than the 2011 result of 9.9.  The QSO is more noteworthy given that they've typically trailed the overall average - 2013 will see them perform a ton of pieces by composers well off their previous radar, featuring pieces by Abel, Addinsell, Arne and Arnold - and that's just the As :).  On the flipside the ASO's rating has dropped like a rock from 7.3 to 5.5, a feat largely accomplished by loading up on Mozart and Beethoven to an extent we haven't seen for years (these two composers collectively having contributed just 5 works to each of the last two years programs, but 15 to the 2013 program).

It's nice to see the proportion of music composed by people still above ground increasing, albeit largely as a result of the ACO's phenomenal increase in the use of works by living composers - a new high water mark of 36%!  And they're not all works by Richard Tognetti! Intriguing to see that the orchestra least reliant on government grants (see here) can take this position. 

Alas for our home grown composers, their proportion of pieces on the 2013 programs continues to flatline, falling to 8% from 10% (although this would be way lower if not for the ACO and CSO).  Needless to say it’s all miles away from Michael Kieran Harvey’s proposal for a 50% benchmark.  Finally, of particular concern is the SSO's contribution at just 4% - given their status as a "flagship" orchestra, not to mention their status as the recipient of the biggest government handouts year after year, you might be forgiven for expecting a little more than this.  As for the MSO at 2%???  More on this later.