I just bumped into this interesting piece at Sequenza21, an excellent online arts journal. It delves into how the Metropolitan Opera marketed Philip Glass’s opera “Satyagraha.” Subscribers were bailing from the opera like crazy, switching their seats to other operas that they were familiar with. So the marketing arm of the Met went into overdrive and came up with some creative solutions in appealing to a new audience for this opera and arriving at a lot of success.
The Sequenza21 posting also points to a longer and more involved posting by Ben Rosen, former Board Member of the Met. Rosen's posting is fascinating and shows graphs about subscription information and provides details on how the marketing department came up with creative solutions besides the simulcasts to movie theaters. It seems to me that marketing departments at many arts organizations can learn a lot from this.
Quoting from Rosen, here's what the marketing department at the Met did to help sell "Satyagraha" in face of declining sales and a potential disaster:
"So a marketing task force was put together. For a modest budget, aided by contributions from a board member, the team was able to create dozens of different marketing initiatives designed to attract specialized audiences. New-age magazines yoga groups, anti-apartheid organizations, India groups, South African organizations, et al.
It worked. By the end of its run, Satyagraha had sold out its run. (By the way, it was a terrific production. I like to quip that Satyagraha is now my favorite Sanskrit opera.) Next year, the same team will have an opportunity to apply its narrow-focus marketing techniques to selling the John Adams opera, Doctor Atomic -- a contemporary work about the creation of the atomic bomb."