Create The Market

I ran across an interesting blog post at about Akio Morita, founder of Sony. Within a series of installments that chronicle the growth of Morita’s company, there is one post called "Create the Market Where There Is None." The article goes on to examine some specific components where Sony profited by focusing on creating a market as opposed to meeting a perceived demand and although those examples don’t necessarily apply to the business of creating live orchestra classical music, the strategic thinking behind those ideas fit like a glove…

There isn’t much I find more disappointing these days than to hear
someone say "Well, if people aren’t buying tickets for orchestra
concerts, there must not be any demand." Favoring an outlook of
"creating demand" over "supply and demand" is an issue the business
doesn’t spend enough time developing. The latest incarnation of that
misplaced effort is Robert Flanagan’s – now notorious – report: The Economic Environment of American Symphony Orchestras.

If this business spent the same amount of effort and resources
on figuring out how creating and maintaining capacity audiences reaches
all aspects of governance and administration as it does to have
seemingly continuous discussions about identifying artificial
limitations (i.e. structural deficits) then we might just get capacity
audiences. Since finishing the Flanagan report, I was struck by the
complete absence of any component which focused on the topic of
creating a market. Granted, it isn’t a simple topic to frame with
quantitative analysis; after all, in order to look forward you can’t
spend all of your time looking over your shoulder.

Just in case anyone might think this is all I’ll write about
the Flanagan report, you may or may not be correct. I’m still trying to
get a grip on if I should write anything and if so, what that content
should focus on. In the meantime, running across the Akio Morita article inspired me to freshen up this topic. What are your thoughts?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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1 thought on “Create The Market”

  1. I was head of product development for Westinghouse Learning Corp (Yes, that Westinghouse).

    My boss left and was replaced by a manager from another branch. My new boss asked, “What kind of market studies do you do to determine whether or not you should develop a product?”

    Me: Any market study is going to cost from $10,000.00 on up. Then, once you’ve got the study, you don’t know the extent to which you can rely on it. I can develop a product for $3,000.00 to $4,000.00. So, it makes more sense to go ahead and develop the product and let it be it’s own market survey.

    The big guys at (W) didn’t like my answer, so they hired a consultant. He came in, looked around, didn’t talk with me, and delivered his report, which said that since surveys cost $XXXX and the products cost $X, we should just develop the products and let them be the market survey.

    In the face of that, (W) did the logical thing: it fired me (and you thought only Government was screwed up).

    If all the money that is spent on studies and surveys was diverted to trying out new ideas, we would be way ahead of where we are now. Here’s the way it should work.

    Somebody makes a suggestion. You bounce it off a few people. You look for the answer to one question: Did it harm us in any way? If there was no harm, go ahead and do it . . . try it . . . see what happens.

    I got one useful thing from the conclusions to the Flanagan study: money raising campaigns tend to cost more than they take in and, hence, may not be worth it. That does not surprise me, but it is something that orchestra managers need to set down and chaw over.


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