Changing the Narrative

Aubrey Bergauer, the “Steve Jobs of classical music”, has made a name for herself helping performing arts institutions turn their losses into profits and now she is bringing her proven model to the masses. She shares her top five tips for commercial success

  1. Centering the customer – This is the most fundamental shift that needs to happen in our industry. For years, we’ve been asking the question: “How do we serve the art? How do we serve the community? Who’s going to pay for what we do?”, but these things are not mutually exclusive. If we don’t have an audience, we don’t exist!
  2. Focus on loyalty retention – We need new audiences, and we need younger audiences, but the data shows that we’re actually okay at getting people to come once – where we really struggle is in retaining them. So, we need to identify
    who our customer is and then work on a patron retention strategy. 
  3. Expanding Digital Content – Coming out of the pandemic we have developed such a muscle on the whole of our digital content, whether that’s through streaming or social media, and this is such an asset. I’m not saying we have to stream everything, and I know it’s expensive to do that, but organisations have to continue to use digital content as a strategy to drive analogue ticket sales.
  4. Representation – We can’t keep moving forward without talking about representation. This is not only about the repertoire we perform, but also about evaluating the audition process, how we hire, the makeup of our artistic talent, how we select our soloists and guest conductors and how we hire our staff and appoint board members. There’s a lot to say about fair and equitable hiring and how we intentionally represent the community. 
  5. Company Culture – This is another area where I think a shift is necessary. There’s now research in the field that shows that for older generations serving the art was a top motivator. But for younger generations this is not the case. They want to feel included and valued in a place of work that aligns with their personal values. So, for a performing arts organisation to be competitive for employees, that’s a shift.

The full interview can be read in the December 2023 issue.

Run it Like a Business: Strategies to Increase audiences, Remain Relevant and Multiply Money – Without Losing the Art by Aubrey Bergauer is published in February 2024. To purchase the book and work with Aubrey Bergauer, visit Aubrey Bergauer | Official Site