How the Chamber Music Society’s Video Streaming Strategy has Paid Off

by Dec 15, 2021CMMA Blog0 comments

As Director of Digital Content for the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center, Trent Casey produces just about everything, from livestream broadcasts to a radio series with listeners from around the world. Long before any of that, Casey was an opera singer. Benefitting from his many talents, the Chamber Music Society has been able to realize the full potential of video to connect with audiences through the power of music.
Unlike some performing arts organizations, the Chamber Music Society has been livestreaming performances since well before 2020. “I produced our very first livestream in 2010 with one single camera plugged into a laptop in our small 100-seat hall. That’s now grown to producing 25 to 30 livestreams, along with recording and post-producing an additional 40 concerts, each season,” says Casey. “We were already heavily invested in streaming, but this past year, streaming has been a lifeline.”
Coincidentally enough, Casey was scheduled to produce a livestream concert on the very night New York City canceled all performances last March. And as the saying goes, the show must go on. “We went on with the stream; we just didn’t have an in-person audience.” Since then, with a video library of more than 1,000 performances, lectures, and masterclasses, Casey and his team have been able to “remix” their library of video content to create “new” concert performances.
Last year, the Chamber Music Society streamed a new concert every Sunday evening for 14 weeks. “These concerts were curated by our artistic directors. We had some short films in a few of them featuring our musicians and how they have been coping during this time. Then, each of those ended with a live Q&A,” explains Casey. Switching from pre-recorded video to a live audience Q&A also helped create a sense of connection. “When we asked for people to send in their questions throughout the broadcast, we got questions. And it’s helped us feel more connected with our digital audience than we ever have,” he says. “If you ask for engagement, you get more engagement. We’ve seen a significant increase in web traffic, and the livestreams received more donations than they ever did before.”
After one full year of streaming performances, the Chamber Music Society has also gained new insights from Brightcove’s video analytics. After thinking about all of the potential metrics to track, Casey and his team decided to focus primarily on watch time. “We really boiled it down to, ‘How many people are coming to our website and watching our content?’ And the analytics for that kind of information is vital. People stay. The watch time is fantastic, and that’s the ultimate goal,” says Casey. Video analytics have also pinpointed where people are watching from to show the Chamber Music Society’s newfound global reach. “Others in the organization are understanding that allows us to be global. We’re not just restricted to the audience that can come to our halls in New York City. People can watch us from anywhere at any time. I have made that case internally before, but now, it’s just much more obvious.”
Like all performing arts organizations, the Chamber Music Society is anxiously awaiting the day when live performances in the concert hall can resume. “We will do live again. It’s not a question of if; it’s a question of when, but we’re ready,” says Casey. But this past year has given him and his team the opportunity to rethink how they’ll present future chamber music performances. “In the past, [our streams] were just one-to-one analogs of the in-hall experience,” he says, “[Streaming this past year] has allowed us to supplement the musical performances with introductions from the artist or our assistant directors, to add a little more context around the performance itself. We didn’t necessarily do that in the past. Once we get back into the concert hall and start doing live performance again, I hope it gives us the opportunity to reconsider how we are presenting these digital concerts to make them digital-native and something much more unique and true to the platform.”
To all of us at Brightcove and to music lovers around the world, that sounds beautiful.
Click here to explore the Chamber Music Society’s digital season and get a virtual front-row seat to the latest chamber music events.
Nick Iuliano is Brightcove’s Senior Director of Content, helping to tell our best brand, product, customer, and partner stories across global marketing channels.