Developing audiences for new music in 2015. Part 2 – Language and Communication

This is the second in a series of three posts that explore the results from the Audience Development Survey, the minutes from the new music audience development network meeting and some of my own thoughts and experience from a Sound and Music viewpoint. This one focuses on Language and Communication. Before this we had Data and coming up next is Consistency and Continuity.

Language and communication were two popular topics at the network meeting including how we present new music to audiences, how to act on social media and how new music is communicated.

For me there were two key questions that were raised that I wanted to explore a bit further and include some examples of how Sound and Music has tackled them.

 is experimental actually experimental?

One of the questions discussed at the meeting was around the term ‘experimental’ and it’s validity with regards to new music. Whilst no consensus was reached in just two short hours, language around new music is something that we’ve thought about a lot at Sound and Music, our Chief Exec Susanna Eastburn even tackled the word ‘composer’ a while back.

 Is it bad to alienate some audiences for authenticity?

Whilst some thought it wasn’t bad, as part of a marketing team and interested in new music personally, to me this is a simple ‘yes’, but is it that simple for everyone?

This idea came up again when discussing audience expectations and the realities of the experience. Below is a quote from the minutes:

You can devalue an experience if you build it up too much. You could exclude audiences by making them feel stupid if the level of expectation around an artist isn’t the same. If they don’t know who the ‘World’s best…’ is, then they are already excluded.

Writing about new music in a clear and simple way can be extremely difficult because new music is often not those things.

When looking at stats for this very blog we look at the volume of visits but also at the engagement rates for visitors: how many posts are they reading? how long are they staying on the blog? How are they finding new blog posts?

The most popular posts on this blog are a how-to, a list of sound artists, and opinion pieces and they are all exemplary in the way they communicate their ideas.

With the rise of Buzzfeed and it’s listicles, Serial and efforts like Snowfall from NYT we’re seeing more experimentation in how information, stories and data are delivered to us. Which could be a really exciting opportunity to not ‘dumb down’ but to present new music better, with more context. If people don’t understand the language you’re using, then give them something else they can understand: images, audio, videos… or comic strips. We did some research on this a couple of years ago for Mopomoso and it definitely works.

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