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Weblog

09/03/23

The classical audience is aging – right? Wrong

How often do we hear that the audience for classical music is an ageing one? Well, it might have been true in the last few decades, but new research commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra tells a different – and perhaps surprising – story.

A survey of 2,000 people – a nationally representative sample – shows that the proportion of people under 35 listening to orchestral music as part of their daily lives has increased in the last five years. In fact young people are now more likely to be listening to it than their parents.

It found that 65% of people aged under 35 were listening on a regular basis, a 6% increase on 2018, and significantly higher than those aged over 55, where the proportion was 57%.

Not surprisingly, the way that younger people access music differs from the habits of the older generation. For people over 55, the most common way was by listening to the radio. But the most common way for people aged under 35 is via streaming.

These findings should give us pause for thought. They tell us that HCS can be optimistic about the future audience for high quality choral/orchestral music but we need to present it in ways that make it accessible for this new generation of listeners.

And it’s a generation that has a more active interest in the arts as a whole. The same survey found that while three in five people in the UK pursue their artistic interest in some way on a regular basis, among people aged under 35 this proportion rises to more than three quarters (77%) – close to double that of their parents’ generation.

How are they doing this? Well, in new ways; younger people were four times as likely to listen to podcasts about the arts as those over 55, teach themselves an instrument, or take online classes; and six times as likely to follow organisations and artists on social media (18% versus 3%).

In a recent blog on the BBC website (the link is below), Arts writer Daisy Woodward traces some of the influences that are contributing to this revival, focussing on a new generation of musicians taking classical and fusion genres to younger audiences. HCS has a commitment ‘..to uphold and renew a tradition..’ and we can only welcome these forces for renewal.

To read Daisy Woodward’s article, follow this link:

https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20230113-gen-z-and-young-millennials-surprising-obsession

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