“There is a difference in creating a musical market and a musical community.”

If you’re a regular reader, you probably know that my wife, Holly Mulcahy, is the concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony. Since we live in Chicago, that tends to catch people off guard.

Wait, you live in Chicago, but perform in Chattanooga…Chattanooga, Tennessee, right?

Musicians commuting long distances is nothing new but using the commute to build community around classical music is something Holly has mastered. She leverages her violin case to engage passengers and more often than not, they end up at an upcoming concert. But perhaps more importantly, they remain engaged with her whenever their paths cross from that point forward.

Over the years, she’s developed a relationship with other regulars traveling the Chicago-Chattanooga route. There are several couples that live in both cities; some have become subscribers, others are regular single ticket buyers.

Her Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with airport encounters in both cities. One recent post demonstrates how she uses these encounters to build and strengthen bridges:

What caught my eye is a comment from Christopher Blair (the very same Mr. Blair who writes the fabulous guest author articles here from time to time about acoustics).

His observations about the difference between creating a market vs. community is an all-crucial point we could all benefit from spending more time internalizing.

Granted, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the market end of things (those pesky revenue goals and all), but taking the time to step back and realize the assets most organizations have at their fingertips in their very own artists is worth considering.

In another airport encounter, Holly crossed paths a fellow passenger who has a friend that regularly attends Chattanooga Symphony concerts. The two of them got to talking and it turns out one is used to seeing Holly on stage, the other in the concourse.

…and don’t miss the selfie #FTW:

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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