Composer-Curator: Capturing Data

Composer-Curator is Sound and Music’s national touring programme, which supports entrepreneurial composers and artists from a range of disciplines looking to create their own opportunities by curating their own events. In 2017 we worked with the cohort to implement new audience data capture methods, as a means of gaining richer and more detailed insights into new music audiences across the UK. Composer-Curator events can and do take many forms – tours, festivals and concert series. As part of the 2017 Composer-Curator cohort, Sound and Music initiated its first set of newly developed audience data capture forms with the talented artists on the programme. This experiment was born out of a real desire among independent producers to understand their audiences better, grow their audiences, and open up wider streams of access to new music. Many artists lack access to the resources and training that can help them do this: the data capture project gave artists the tools to capture their own insightful audience data from their live events and activity, in a coherent and standardised format.   This experiment looked at both digital and physical audiences. The data forms aimed to capture the artists' digital audience, both prior to working with Sound and Music and after their projects had been completed, in order to gauge and measure impact. This enabled the artists to track audience growth throughout their time on the programme. During the process the artists were encouraged to think deeply about their audiences: who they are, who is - and is not - represented, and why. It became clear that by Sound and Music giving support to artists, it was possible to place the onus on them to review and grow their own audiences. They gained greater insight, actively beginning to increase audience numbers and initiating more meaningful audience interactions and engagement. As one of the artists stated, ‘’By collecting audience data, I now have both quantitative and meaningful qualitative data which have helped me to change the way I communicate with my audience and has actually allowed me to reach more diversified people leading to an online growth of 12%’’. In addition to capturing the artists’ digital audience pre and post project, Sound and Music worked with the artists to develop ways to capture audience data at live events. The artists developed their own creative solutions to capturing insight which felt authentic to them. They were encouraged to think about creative ways to make data capture fun and interactive, giving the audience a voice, developing meaningful relationships and not merely a passive exchange of information. The Composer-Curators embraced this experiment and the challenges it posed, and explored various ways to gather data whilst sharing their experiences. This approach proved engaging, exciting and effective for artists and audiences alike.  One artist created a live data capture through an immersive composition; another ran a live data visualisation in partnership with a visual artist, allowing real time feedback from audience members at the event. These are just some of the ways in which these artists are creatively gathering audience data and opening a dialogue with their audiences. This has been positively received. Audiences are more likely to share if they understand the context in which information in being captured, and most importantly by whom. This key learning is something that Sound and Music will also be taking forward. This audience development data pilot was extremely valuable for both Sound and Music and the artists on the Composer-Curator programme. From this pilot Sound and Music has been able to provide all 6 artists with a final data review of their time on the programme, giving them insight and tools for communicating, growing and developing their audiences. Sound and Music is continuing to experiment with and refine this process, further supporting artists in their audience development work.
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