I applied to join the CultureHive DMA to make me think more about the marketing side of my job. I’ve done content production and work on digital projects in the past, but usually working on a commission for another company who will promote it themselves, so I find it easy to forget that websites and other digital media produced by arts organisations are all primarily marketing tools!
At Aldeburgh Music we have a slightly different challenge to many arts venues in the cities. The beautiful but remote setting, along with the galleries and shops on site, mean that we have quite a large number of people passing by the front door to Snape Maltings Concert Hall, without seeing what goes on inside. We estimate the ratio of site visitors to concert-goers to be about 5:1.
We do run tours of the concert hall when the site is especially busy (during school holidays and while the markets and other festivals are on), but we need Front-of-House staff on hand to do this. Visitors often ask to see inside when there are no stewards on hand, or when there is maintenance work being done on the hall.
Lots of organisations film or stream their events live online to show the outside world the quality of the work they do. I want to try something a little different – filming with a single camera that captures images in every direction. The first output of this is Youtube, with a special video player that you can click on and drag to look in any direction. Have a look at this video on Youtube to get an idea.
The other output is a version for a virtual reality headset. Wearing little more than some special goggles with a smartphone inside, the viewer can watch the video and turn their head to look in any direction, as if they were really there. It’s an immersive experience which hopefully will inspire those brave enough to put the goggles on to come back and experience it in real life. And with only one camera to set up, it’s much easier (and cheaper) than a TV-style film production to do.
This idea was all very well but I wasn’t sure exactly how we could test this out – important to the DMA! Thankfully, the first session with my mentor Ron Evans provided the answer. As well as being a thoroughly nice guy, it didn’t take long for Ron to work out how to qualify the idea with some tests.
My plan is to capture a performance in the Aldeburgh Festival, and have it ready to watch in a virtual reality headset in time for the summer holidays. We’ll then check how people react to seeing the video, try to capture their email address and offer them an incentive to book some tickets. If enough do, we’ll have succeeded. If not, we’ll have proved that other organisations probably shouldn’t try the same, so in theory will have a positive outcome either way.
Right now, I’m trying to clear the rights from the performers and publishers to capture and show the concert we want. I won’t jinx it by naming them, but the performance we’ve chosen is a perfect example of what goes on at Aldeburgh Music. It’s taking a while so I haven’t actually done any marketing experiments just yet, so fingers crossed all the contracts will be signed and it works out in time for my next blog post.