Mgr. Ing. Radim Bačuvčík – music critic, Tomas Bata University in Zlin /CZ/

There are two ways of thinking about the relationship between music (or even arts or culture) and marketing. We can watch this problem from the philosophical and practical point of view. In philosophical dimensions we can disputate, whether cultural organizations, whose mission lays in the fields of protection the cultural or spiritual values, arts or increasing the cultural awareness of the nations, should even deal with marketing, which is thought to be a product of commercial sector of economy and a way to sell people non-essential goods and bring them closer to the consumer way of life.

This way of thinking is typical for the staff of many small amateur but also great professional culture organizations. Marketing as a principle is often rejected in the significant part of Czech non-profit sector, where people consider using it to be way of losing one’s credibility, in the branch of culture also kind of vulgarization of audience and loss of exclusiveness consequent to the mass advertising or promoting.

From the marketing analyst’s point of view the product of cultural (art, music) organizations is the same (or similar) kind of product like that of industrial enterprise, somehow specific, but still only product interesting for some - maybe small - target group of customers. What is important - part of this target group doesn’t know about this product, doesn’t know where to buy it etc. On the other hand, there are other (non-primary) target groups, which could see other benefits of the product, than the primary target group does (that means, the primary target group goes to the classical music concert because of the artistic impression of the piece they know; the secondary target group just wants spend somehow Saturday’s evening and the classical music concert is only one - but still relevant - of many possibilities). From the marketing point of view this specific cultural product may bear some specific benefits, which may be communicated (promoted) through specific communication channels.

That means, we can believe, that connection of “romantic” idea of non-profit artwork and “practical” marketing techniques (Lee, 2005) exists, though in fact it is often intuitive, non-professional of non-effective and very often it isn’t called “marketing”. Nevertheless the most of cultural organizations execute some “marketing”, because they try to satisfy the interests, needs and desires of all relevant stakeholders (McLeish, 1995).

Is The Connection Between Marketing And Arts Possible?

At first sight the marketing and art aims of cultural organizations may seem to be in an antagonism. One of the basic principles of marketing theory is the emphasis on consumer’s (client’s) needs and desires, but the cultural organizations carry on the artistic production considered to be expression of inner feelings of the author, which can’t be revised by nothing outer, less by the “consumers’ needs”.

The relationship between marketing and arts has anyway two levels. The first of them relates to artistic creative process, the second relates to the arts’ presentation. The problem of marketing-orientated reasons of creative process is false and relevant in romantic and post-romantic era. Even the 18th century composers didn’t know this problem, because part of their works came from someone’s (nobility’s, church’s) order, that means - had to satisfy someone’s needs and desires. The romantic era brought the idea of independent artist, whose production can be funded, but not determined by someone else. New era of the artistic creative process inspired by societal or even commercial order has come in the second part of 20th century. Nowadays it is again possible and there are no doubts about it (Fillis in Kerrigan, Frazer, Özbilgin, 2004: 133).

Neither in the world of arts presentation (or interpretation) by cultural (arts) organizations marketing orientation to the consumers´ needs and desires doesn’t have to mean rejection of the artistic value, but seeking and finding a reasonable compromise between majority and minority interests. Or, according to Kotler and Scheff, „Marketing, as it relates to the arts, is not about intimidation or coercion or abandoning an artistic vision. It is not „hard selling“ or deceptive advertising. It is a sound, effective technology for creating exchanges and influencing behavior that, when properly applied, must be beneficial to both parties involved in the exchange.“ (Kotler, Scheff, 1997: 30).

To be able to do this, the cultural organization needs to identify its consumers and their needs and desires. The key point is, that there is not only one type of consumers (attenders, listeners), who have the same relationship to the product, understand it the same way and have the same expectations towards to it. In every audience there are at least two (but in fact more) kinds of consumers: the first of them has a deep interest in the branch and seeks above all the artistic dimension of the product, while the second demands above all entertainment and some smart or intelligent way of spending the spare time. Whilst the first kind (type) consumers knows very well what he/she is looking for, the second type consumer may be indifferent towards the product and towards to making the decision of going to the classical music concert, theatre, cinema or even watching TV or doing shopping. These two consumers can obviously come to the same concert, but every of them expects something different.

The marketing access means, that cultural organization can recognize the different ideas of the different target groups and either prepares different products (kinds, variants of product) for every of them (that doesn’t mean lose of artistic value, but only diversification of the product), or prepares different ways of marketing communication of the same product for different target groups (traditional consumers of art are interested above all in the name of composer, piece, soloist or conductor; the people wanting only somehow spend spare evening must learn, why they shouldn’t go to the theatre, but should go to the concert; they must learn the emotional side of the performance, while the traditional consumers are interested only in the rational description, because they know what to expect). Every product can bring different benefits to different people and performing marketing means to know, what benefits are important for particular target groups.

How To Define Arts Marketing?

Arts (culture) marketing started to be broader reflected in the literature from 1967, when Philip Kotler in his book Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning and Control wrote, that cultural institutions produce “cultural goods” and must compete to attract on the one hand the customers and on the other hand the national financial resources; that means they face the marketing problem (Colbert, 2001: 12). During 1970s this topic was broader popularized in the literature. Some socially-marketing activities of course were present before too - for example after World War II many governments increased the support of arts, maybe because of treatment the society stroked by the war. This increased the interest in arts in the countries (Kolb, 2005: 33).

There are many different definitions about what is culture or arts marketing. For example Diggle (1994: 25) says that „The aim of arts marketing is to bring an appropriate number of people, drawn from the widest possible range of social background, economic condition and age, into an appropriate form of contact with the artist and, in so doing, to arrive at the best financial outcome that is compatible with the achievement of that aim.“ One of the newest definitions says that „Arts marketing is an integrated management process which sees mutually satisfying exchange relationships with customers as the route to achieving organizational and artistic objectives.“ (Hill, O’Sullivan, O’Sullivan, 2007: 1). More poetic definition is given by Kotler in the preface to the book Arts Marketing Insights: „Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to fill your seats. Marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value. It is the art of helping your customers become better off.“ (Kotler in Scheff Bernstein, 2007: viii)

In other books there are defined the aims of arts marketing. Kotler in his preface to the book Marketing the Arts identifies its four main tasks: increasing attendance, cultivation the audience, development of membership and fundraising (Kotler in Mokwa, Dawson, Prieve, 1980: preface). Nearly twenty years later the same author describes the objective more simply - the main problems of culture organizations marketing are seeking the markets for their supply, broadening markets and sustenance their audience (Kotler, Scheff, 1997: 20).

All these definitions highlight only some aspects of the whole problem. Summarizing all the points of view we can say, that the objective of marketing management in culture organizations is balancing number of (at first sight contradictory) interests. The interest of artists, cultural organizations, society, philanthropists and traditional consumers of arts is to support the creation and protection of highly valuable artworks. The interest of founders (owners) of the organizations and their staff is to reach appropriate economical profit (at least avoid the loss and provide wages). The interest of cultural consumers and the public is to spend meaningfully and culturally their spare time. And finally the interest of commercial sponsors is to support a cultural activity with the possibility of speaking to its audience and communicating them their own values (products, aims etc.). That means marketing in culture organizations is to provide valuable and diversified products interesting for various target groups, suitably react to the attitudes of audience, education and cultivation the audience and raising the funds including own entrepreneurship.

Is Marketing In The Arts Something New?

Marketing or let us say business activities in the world of arts are not anything new. In the seventeenth century the opera societies were very successful entrepreneurial organizations, though later some of them faced bankruptcy (Bukofzer, 186: 577). The role of impresario as a promoter of cultural production was as important as the role of the author (Chong, 2002: 33). Occasionally these two roles were integrated in one person (Georg Friedrich Händel in the deep past and Andrew Lloyd Weber nowadays - see Chong, 2002: 30, 34), in spite of their generally supposed incompatibility. This model of impresario as a artistic manager and marketer lasted until the beginning of the second half of twentieth century, when the more bureaucratically admission started to take place in arts organizations (similarly as in the business sphere) (Porvazník, 2003). The role of impresario of course remained till today in form of marketing manager, if you like agent of celebrities of the world of culture or arts. Simultaneously with the tendency of changing traditional „manager“ (as administrator) into „leader“ (as teacher or coach, Vodáček, Vodáčková, 2001) might traditional model of impresario (as someone who communicates to the various stakeholders including community public) become more important (Colbert, 2003).

Culture And Arts: Marketing Versus Spirituality?

As we could see in the previous paragraphs, some prejudice towards marketing and possibilities of its co-existence with the world of arts and culture may have its roots in misunderstanding the right content of species “marketing”. In the non-professional world it is mostly understood as “hard-selling”, the attempt to sell something “at any price”, sometimes it is understood as a synonym of words “cheating”, “lying” etc. According to marketing theory this term is emotionally neutral and means steady collection of some attitudes and techniques which - used correctly with knowledge of social and economical context - may help to reach the entrepreneurial success or at least economically stable production of some economical goods. That means, marketing needn’t to be in any opposition to spiritual dimension of arts. Anyway, marketing cannot be understood as a recipe leading to sure success. We can expect the laws of commercial goods markets are the same as those of culture goods markets. Nevertheless characters of these markets are different, especially in parameters of size of the target groups. Of course, this has some consequences for probability of success and effectiveness of implementation of marketing procedures on these markets.

Mgr. Ing. Radim Bačuvčík – music critic, Tomas Bata University in Zlin /CZ/




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