2015 Readership Segmentation Survey Results

Each year, the Readership Segmentation Surveys produce some intriguing insight and this year was no exception. This year’s results produced more responses than the past few and that data indicates some clear trends and shifts.

Demographics & Occupation

Age Groups 2015
Although Millennials continued to dominate, 45-54 demographic nearly doubled over last year and the 65+ age group increased by five times over the same time period.
Sex and Race 2015
The division between male and female readers was statistically identical to the 2014 results while diversity was up over last year. At the same time, that increase wasn’t even close to dislodging Caucasian as the most common readership group.
Relationship 2015
By and large, these results were mostly unchanged from 2014’s results with the exception of those identifying as professional artists or consultants was a bit higher while those identifying as patrons decreased by similar levels.
Field 2015
New to this year’s survey was the question asking those who identified as a board member, manager, or musician, which field they work in. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those involved in the orchestra field comprised the majority of responses. The larger ratio of “other” responses included those who self-identified as chamber musicians, working in academia, or a related for profit service provider capacity.
Administrative Department 2015
Although there continues to be a strong representation among executive and marketing professionals, this question saw a sharp uptick in “other” responses. We examined a similar pattern via the Millennial-only responses we examined in March. Specifically, respondents described positions that have duties and responsibilities which stretch across multiple traditional department titles. It will be curious to see if this is the beginning of a new jack-of-all-trades arts admin.

Value, Satisfaction, & Engagement

Value 2015
Culture blogs and online newspapers continued to comprise the bulk of outlets readers placed the highest amount of value.
Satisfaction 2015
The only outlet to receive above average or higher ratings was culture blogs and the overall satisfaction was slightly higher than the previous year while online newspaper satisfaction fell a bit.
Ethics 2015
Readers placed even higher levels of importance on ethical practices of culture blog authors.
Frequency 2015
Although three quarters of readers continue to engage with friends and collages about culture news each week, overall frequency dropped a bit from the previous year.
Reading Habits 2015
Although readers may engage with friends and colleagues a bit less, responses indicate their reading habits are more frequent.

But Why?

Rationale 2015
This was the first year since the economic downturn where readers began to demonstrate a shift in rationale for reading culture blogs. Substance, rarity, timeliness, and perspective are slowly overtaking outlets that rely more on personality and a focus on trendy material.

Looking Around And Ahead

Among the most valuable responses each year are those which include topics they would like to see more of in the next year. To that end, here are some of the more common and intriguing responses:

  • How media impacts the arts, especially as it relates to labor relations.
  • More data.
  • “Improved Marketing in an environment of utter chaos” (loved that description).
  • Administrative and board recruitment.
  • Substitute musician issues.
  • Musician HR issues.
  • Board governance.

Other culture blogs popular* among Adaptistration readers include (listed alphabetically):

* mentioned by 20 percent or more of respondents that listed their favorite culture blogs.

As always, I want to thank the more than 1000 respondents for taking the time to help provide a broader understanding; your input helps determine the topics we examine.

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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