Thanking your new audience

In my last post, I passed on an email from John Devlin, a graduate conducting student at the University of Maryland at College Park, and co-conductor of the school’s Repertoire Orchestra. He’d had great success attracting a new audience to the orchestra’s last concert, and his email explained some of how he did that.

After the concert, he sent a thank-you email to the new people who’d come. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but I don’t know how often it’s done in the classical music world. Elsewhere, of course, it’s common. (My inbox is crammed with followup emails from companies I’ve bought from online.)

And while you can go too far with this (see my last parenthesis), a little of it goes a long way. Especially when you’ve just given out free tickets, and your new audience loved your concert!

Here’s what John wrote. Note, by the way, two things. In order to write the email, he had to have email addresses. Which meant he had to ask for them when he gave out the tickets. Which he quite literally did — invited people, and handed them free tickets on the spot. So he also had to ask for their email address.

Second, he asked them to respond. Which both gives him a chance to learn what they thought, and — most crucial — to start developing a relationship. Which once it’s established, makes it more likely that the new audience will keep coming back.

Here’s his email, posted here with his permission. The subject line was “Thank you!”

Dear Classical Music Lover,

Thank you so much for having come to the University of Maryland Repertoire Orchestra concert on November 1, 2010! We enjoyed our largest crowd ever and that is thanks to all of you.

As an ensemble at the University of Maryland School of Music, our group performs two functions. We try and educate the members the group and provide them with a positive musical experience… and second, we want to present welcoming, entertaining and engaging concerts for you.

In order to better perform this second responsibility we would love to have your input and feedback about our concert process. Were you able to find out about the concert easily? Were you able to obtain tickets in a convenient manner? Is there any information that you would like to have before the concert? Were the program notes engaging and informative? Did you like our repertoire selections? Did you enjoy the way the music was performed?

We would love to hear the answers to these questions, and also to answer any questions that you may have of us. If you would like, please respond directly to this email. We  will be happy to hear from you.

Our next concert is on March 2, 2010 at 8pm. The concert will be free but ticketed. The repertoire for this performance will be:

Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture

Haydn Hornsignal Symphony

Brahms First Symphony


We hope that you will plan to attend this event. Again, thank you, and please do be in touch.


John Devlin

Co-Director, University of Maryland Repertoire Orchestra

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  1. Charlotte Landrum says

    Greg, it’s been quite a while since we’ve been in touch, but I was struck by this as it bears remarkable resemblance to some of the things we’ve been trying at Miller Theatre at Columbia University, where I’m now marketing director. Just yesterday, we were drafting up a thank you note to send to a group of undergraduate students who joined us for a pre-concert reception and performance of Columbia professor Fred Lerdahl’s music as part of Miller’s Composer Portraits series. Part of what we’ve been thinking about a lot recently is how important the social aspect is in building new audiences. If I go to a new music concert at any given venue in New York, I’m more or less guaranteed to see someone I know. But if you’re not part of that community, it doesn’t feel so welcoming. By forming relationships with the student leaders of existing groups on campus (the Grad Student club, or the orchestra, for example) rather than simply marketing to individual students, we create that sort of community in the concert hall, and it seems to make a big difference. Would be fun to get together for lunch sometime and get your thoughts on some of the other ideas we’re trying.