Personalization of the Arts

Okay so we’re starting to see a lot of change – part of it economic, part of it wrought by our old pal the internets. I’ve been writing about this elsewhere but can’t find my notes. Long story short – the kids with their danged iPods! Genius – generated playlists, Pandora, algorithms, DVRs – always connected, always on….we’ve reached the ultimate Burger King Moment – “Have it your way, at Burger King!”

Basically the point is personalization – everything is now about personalization. Which is different than selfishness or self-centeredness it is about personal agency and the expectation that you can interact with something on your own terms, on your own schedule, at your own pace.

Okay – so this has a lot to do with the direction that philanthropic giving is going. To succeed a non-profit will have to proactively create multiple access points for donors and multiple funding channels for different projects. So your arts organization, say, is committed to doing X number of shows about topics A,B,C.  X1 is a musical, X2 is a drama, X3 is movement theater. Your arts org will have to figure out how to offer donors a way to target their donation precisely, track it, and make sure that your donor appeal is appropriately targeted. Some people are going to want to support work that explores topic A because that is their thing. Some people are going to support X1 because they don’t care about topic, they just like musicals. And some people want to see a musical about topic A.  Add to that some people who maybe don’t care about any of those factors but care about a specific project – or even specific artists and PHEW! That’s crazy. 

So how is this starting to manifest? Well, there are new sites like this one for United Creators which is essentially a matchmaking site for visual artists and art buyers. I have no idea about the quality of the art, the stature of the buyers or the viability of the project. Its an interesting model but since they’re pretty early to market, my hunch is they may be the canary in the coal mine.

Another approach is the artist tailoring their offering to the consumer’s taste at different price points. One of the most recent artists to do that is John Wesley Harding who will sell his CD for $15.98, CD + throw in a  live concert for $5000 more. [BoingBoing]

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