Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Making musical sense by email, part 5

So far, we've seen Greg Sandow's thoughts on the future of classical music and a dialog between Greg and me involving the use of system dynamics simulations to explore his ideas further. Hopefully this is showing you a way to use systems thinking that you may not have seen before; perhaps you'll see ways to apply it more directly in your work, too. We'll talk more about that later.

Based on my initial model, Greg had revealed a few more details of his thinking. In particular, he wasn't necessarily suggesting that young people were abandoning classical music forever; they might just be staying away for a decade or two.

Thanks to Greg's questions, I augmented the model to show what might happen if classical music concert-goers take a hiatus in their thirties and forties. I describe that in the lightly edited email below, including a quotation (with permission) from another email from Greg not yet quoted here:

"Greg Sandow" writes:

> First, I believe your model posits that people start
> attending concerts, and then continue essentially
> throughout the rest of their lives. I don't know if that's
> true. That is, people might go occasionally when they're
> young, then not go (or not go very often) for many years,
> and then resume going, much more often, when they're
> older. This would be consistent with some of the data, for
> instance the preponderance of the audience in older age
> groups, and also survey results that show people most
> likely to attend regularly when they no longer have
> children at home. This may not have been the pattern in
> past generations, but it appears to be the pattern now.


I've modified the model and run some quick and dirty tests
to let you see the first impressions. If this happens to be
at all interesting, I'll need to do some model testing I
don't have time for right now.

I did think of one other factor that could lead to an aging
of audiences; see the end of the attachment.

> An impressive study done in Indianapolis a few years ago
> showed that people 40 and under learned about arts events
> they attended mainly by word of mouth. No other source of
> information came even close. Orchestras have little
> understanding of this, and have done very little work, as
> far as I know, to understand what makes people decide to
> go to concerts, or - really important - to go once, and
> not return.

Quite interesting. That's consistent with the assumptions
Drew and I have been making, and it's consistent with the
purpose of TAFTO.

Perhaps the TAFTO model will be of use, when it's published.



The attachment I mention contains the results I shared with Greg (with one obvious typo fixed). That model is not very well developed, nor have we carried that part of the conversation much further yet, but I thought you might like to see that it was relatively easy to pursue alternative ideas.

TAFTO refers to Drew McManus's Take a Friend to Orchestra initiative. I'll be writing a simulation-supported column for his annual April TAFTO push. You'll have to wait until then to see more about that model.

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