The Audience Experience of Contemporary Music

What do audiences value about engaging with contemporary music? What are their experiences at concerts? How can this art form come to reach a larger, more diverse public?

In this talk, researcher Gina Emerson will explore these questions by presenting results from a new large-scale audience experience study in the field of contemporary music. Working in collaboration with Creative Europe’s Ulysses Network for contemporary music, she reports on data collected from 1428 audience members at twelve concerts across different European countries, the first study of its kind on a European level.

The research project sheds light on many aspects of the current situation of contemporary music, covering audience demographics as they compare to classical music and other genres, audience tastes and interests, relationships between audiences and institutions in contemporary music as well as audiences’ general concert experiences and specific aesthetic experiences with the music performed. The culture around contemporary music can be defined by tensions between the ‘accessible’ and the ‘experimental’ or ‘radical’ that audiences are involved in negotiating: new audience members report feeling less included and communicated with and often feel hesitant about expressing their opinions. This talk seeks to encourage discussion on how contemporary music can reach a different, less elite and expert audience base and to illustrate what can be gained from looking at contemporary music from the audience’s perspective.

You can watch the presentation (full video) here:

Clip 1 Intro:

Clip 2 The Study:

Clip 3 Taking Action:

References for the lecture can be found here.