The Orchestra 990 Database Project Update: HELP!

Good news everybody, exploratory work for the Orchestra 990 Database Project is all done. The technical aspects are worked out and not only do we know it can be done, we also have a very firm idea of how much time and resources it will take; but there’s one thing that has us stumped so we need your help.

150x150_ITA_Guy188Specifically, it is related to the Kickstarter campaign and here’s the part that has everyone on my side of the fence puzzled: since the Orchestra 990 Database Project service is something we’ve designed as a free service (per your survey input), we’re not sure exactly what to offer supporters as a reward for backing the project.

Kickstarter defines rewards as such (emphasis added):

Rewards are what backers receive in exchange for pledging to a project. The importance of creative, tangible, and fairly priced rewards cannot be overstated. Projects whose rewards are overpriced or uninspired struggle to find support.

There are four common reward types that we see on Kickstarter:

  • Copies of the thing: the album, the DVD, a print from the show. These items should be priced what they would cost in a retail environment.
  • Creative collaborations: a backer appears as a hero in the comic, everyone gets painted into the mural, two backers do the handclaps for track 3.
  • Creative experiences: a visit to the set, a phone call from the author, dinner with the cast, a concert in your backyard.
  • Creative mementos: Polaroids sent from location, thanks in the credits, meaningful tokens that tell a story.

As such, the conundrum is fairly straightforward: there are no copies to offer, no way to integrate a backer into the final offering, no experience to participate in, and no mementos of value (short of a digital commemorating the thrilling work of sitting in front a computer writing code).

The only potential areas of interest we’ve identified are:

  • Naming rights (“Orchestra 990 Database Project” is a rather dull name).
  • UX decision maker (selecting final color palette etc.)
  • Publishing an “about the backer” profile section at the site as sort of super thanks offering.

Consequently, I’d like to call on all of the creative, big brains out there among Adaptistration’s readership to solicit input on what you think would be worthwhile and enticing rewards for a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the Orchestra 990 Database Project. Post a comment below or send an email.

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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11 thoughts on “The Orchestra 990 Database Project Update: HELP!”

  1. I like Dana’s idea of linking to Venture Platform stuff. I think a lot of people would go for that. I see things like that all the time on Kickstarter.

    Some other ideas:
    * list backers on a page of the site
    * offer Twitter or Facebook shoutouts (I know. It’s dumb, but I’ve gotten them from several KS projects.)
    * downloadable copy of the first version of the database in some format
    * early access (the “privilege” of being a beta tester)
    * some kind of digital image “badge” that could be displayed on a site or social media

    I know some of those don’t really make sense, but like you say, you’re creating an ongoing database that is going to be free to anybody. I’ve backed several projects for open source software. You can still offer people a thing as a reward that you are offering other people for free. You’re giving away the result for free, so I think it’s okay for the rewards to be and feel less exclusive. People aren’t entering into the project with expectations of exclusivity. (Incidentally, Expectations of Exclusivity is my new prog-rock electronica project.)

  2. Similar to the Venture suggestion… I know they’re probably mutually exclusive again, but something that might tie in better: access to the (premium) Orchestra Compensation Reports?

    And something else: a backer can get access to the database one month before the general public. Maybe gets earlier notifications of updates etc.?

    • The early access seems to be a front runner here and assuming the project meets the kickstarter goal, the premium reports will fade away and get wrapped up into the new database in one form or another. Access to whatever that will become is certainly an option, we just don’t know how it will take shape or when it will be released.

  3. Drew,
    Some ideas:
    -Access to a more robust version of the database, if the business model is on the web model 99.9% of the customers to get free information and .01% of customers pay to subscribe to a premium version, which subsidizes the rest
    -Quarterly e-newsletter with info on updates, trends, and analysis
    -Passcode protected Google Hangout or some other type of webinar with you and other industry experts on how to use the database and q & a
    -Web-based ads for the individuals’ organizations
    Good luck,

    • The idea of a personal consultation session and/or webinar on how to use 990s etc. is an intriguing notion and one that I have not thought of, many thanks!

      We’ve also analyzed areas where we can begin offering a more dashboard driven interface that pulls info from the 990s and be a fee based service but I doubt we’ll include that in the initial phase of the project.

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