Dear God, Another Calamity!

Not really, that’s just a headline to suck you in (although my apologies to any group coincidentally experiencing a calamity today) and that’s exactly what happened last week when I published the exact same article on 7/23 and 7/24 albeit different headlines. The article on 7/23 featured a very descriptive headline with a constructive slant, One Simple Key To Getting The Most Out Of Your Artist Agent Retainer, while the article on 7/24 provided no description whatsoever and relied on more of a sensational approach, Are You Making This Critical Mistake? Care to take a guess at which one attracted more readers?

If you guessed sensational 7/24, pat yourself on the back; then again, if you guessed practical 7/23, you win too.


Both days generated fairly even metrics with the 23rd edging out in overall visits but the 24th performed a bit better with overall engagement and generating new readers. Neither day’s metrics strayed outside of established traffic norms.

All of this was intriguing as metrics over the past decade demonstrated that readers favor the salacious tease over descriptive prudence but ever since the Minnesota Orchestra labor dispute, I’ve noticed the trend slowly leveling off.

Nonetheless, neither approach produces superior results; if anything, it appears that a healthy mix is the best tactic. Having said that, it’s fair to point out that maintaining a well-adjusted tone and construct for the actual article is the way to go when it comes to producing a strong, regular readership.

So enjoy a balanced culture blogging breakfast but don’t feel guilty if you slip a little vodka into your orange juice every now and then.

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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5 thoughts on “Dear God, Another Calamity!”

  1. some of us do follow regularly and will click on every post no matter what the headline. i think i clicked on that story both times it was posted. however, you do make a good point that sensationalist headlines might tend to drive the faithful readers away. if i click on something like today’s headline, i do so reluctantly, and in the back of my head i am keeping score. 3 strikes (of similar bait and switch tactics), and i generally decide not to trust that site anymore.

  2. It’s too bad, isn’t it…that these calamities discussed with so much vigor are in fact the details of the professional lives of a bunch of human beings.
    It’s very easy to forget that. One is apt to rush to cleverly encapsulate a development as though one’s opinions had a chance of changing the weather.

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