Thursday, June 17, 2010

League of American Orchestras Conference, Day 1

IMS Marketing Director Keith Hoffman and I are attending the League of American Orchestras Conference in Atlanta through Friday. We arrived last evening and attended a post-concert reception at the Woodruff Arts Center.

IMS is a sponsor of the conference and a big supporter of the Arts. This is an industry that seems to feel that it's lost its way just a bit, as performing arts organizations struggle to maintain their audiences in a tough economy and continue to compete for market share against the ever-growing options for entertainment dollars.

The reception certainly did not have the feel of an industry in the doldrums. More than 1000 people packed two large rooms of the art center, many of them very formally dressed, enjoying great food, catching up with old friends, and of course, taking in some live music. A jazz quartet played in one room, and a big band in the other. The mood was pure party joy, late into the evening.

Obviously this is a music-oriented group, but the performances, earlier by the Atlanta Symphony and Symphony Chorus, and later at the reception, helped reinforce that there is no substitute for live music. For both performers and listeners, it's a part of the human experience that cannot be replaced by your iPod. Supporting and enjoying live music and musicians is good for you and for our culture.

That's the reason orchestras are in business, of course, and it's one of the reasons they will stay in business. The challenge for them is helping all of us remember that. They must continue to attract new audiences, and at the same time, find other ways to connect with their customers so that live symphony orchestra music remains relevant in our plugged-in world.

The conference sessions start today, and it will be interesting to see if the positive mood continues. A quick browse of the session titles certainly gives the impression of an industry in transition, if not a bit of panic.

How does IMS relate to all of this? We hope our Web solutions can help orchestras of all sizes compete, stay relevant, save money and present themselves in the best possible way. And for many, the Web is and will be the way they will transform themselves to continue to thrive.

Mark Clear, IMS CEO