Stop Spoiling The Newbie Concert Experience

It should come as no secret that we can be our own worst enemies when it comes to turning off new concertgoers and no stakeholder is immune.

Moreover, it never hurts to remind ourselves what we can do to avoid these bear traps and to that end, violinist Holly Mulcahy recently published an article that touches on some of the more common ways stakeholders can make new concertgoers feel like their first concert will be their last. She also provides some guidelines on how alternative behaviors can help turn off-putting behaviors into something more welcoming.

The secret isn’t groundbreaking but it’s one of those things we can’t hear enough.

In general, people want to feel intelligent, they want to feel like they belong, and that ultimately makes people feel invited and valued. Our industry does little to help this. Sure, we encourage people to “wear what you want!” and we offer clapping guidelines, but until we can unlock the peer relations of fellow audience members trying to boost their own self esteem by showing off how smart or better they are, there is not a super welcoming atmosphere.

Ruining The Concert Experience For Newcomers


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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