dwindling audience at contests

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by toby hobson, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    Ive played in two contests recently, The Masters and the English Nationals. Both featured good pieces, both had a embarrassing amount of public attending!! I have been trying to work out reasons for this.....Maybe it's because there have been two many contests recently (my band has played in 8 this year) Maybe its because in the case of the the English nationals it was in a relative backwater (a couple for instance wouldn't want to "make a weekend of it" in Preston would they!!) Maybe its because Black Dyke were not at both contests (like it or not, they are the biggest draw in banding) Maybe they cost to much money (some of the sums I have heard recently are not the sort of money a working class family would find easy to afford) Maybe the general standard of playing is slipping, as quality players become harder to find and the audience figures are simply reflecting this.

    I would suggest the way forward is to stop both contests, and take a contest to the people, take it to one of the Banding capitals Leeds/Bradford or Manchester (surely one of these two/three great Banding City's should have a major contest, personally i recon the Open should be in Manchester maybe I'm old fashioned!!) Make the contest just that, a contest, not a contest with a gala concert added (with the standard half hour of speeches on top,a rush for Red Bull or some other stimulant is often needed, make it financially realistic, a fiver say, or a tenna for the posh seats. Don't have it finishing with the results at 8pm,(a ten hour day of banding isnt everyones cup of tea!!!)

    Anyway, Just a few thoughts and idea's.........
  2. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Some comments re class there especially relating to 'working class' folk not being able to afford tickets to see certain bands... are these the same 'working class' folks who pay extortionate amounts of money to go and watch Man City FC then...?

    It has nothing to do with class, but all about appeal. Quite simply, there is not a high enough % of the population who will ever consider enjoying bands, banding or brass music - and that's it. We have to keep promoting our modernised image, and keep pluggin away at making brass music and our movement more appealing to more people.

    There are presently more bands than there are players to support them, and fewer audience members who are interested in watching these bands.

    I don't have the answers - I wish I did; but I do know that we have to continue to look outside our current operational sphere in an attempt to demystify this sterotypical image most people have of brass bands and our music.
  3. RussQ

    RussQ Member

    I was at the English Nationals yesterday and have to agree that the attendance was very disappointing considering the quality of the competing bands. If venues are only half full when 'top' bands attend, it is a cause for concern.
    The reasons I'm sure are varied and people will have there own opinions as to why audiences are dwindling. Preston Guildhall is a great venue to both listen and play in and I don't think it's too far off the beaten track by any means. I suspect a combination of ticket price/timing/evening concert put people off travelling to what was an excellent days contesting. Although in my opinion, the mini concert presented by Fodens, (who played superbly) was unnecessary after a long days listening. I'm sure the organisers are already tweaking the format to entice more people through the doors.
  4. MRSH

    MRSH Supporting Member

    I have been involved in brass bands now for 30 years and I have never played at nor conducted at nor been to a contest where you needed to both hands to count the number general public members in the audience.

    Whilst brass bands have been looked upon with a scowl from the other musical entities the same can really be said about the paying public. Do you really expect the public to consciously pay to enter a contest and sit and listen to 15 (or whatever) bands play the same piece?

    I tend to agree here. You won't attract the public to any sort of 'event' if it's at the other end of the country. If I scour the 'What's On' columns the first thing I look at is where the event is being held. No matter how attractive the event is I won't travel 300 miles to listen to my favourite orchestra concert as I know they will probably be in my area playing the same concert soon anyway. Totally different to brass band contests. (And concerts to a certain extent). Organisers should 'place' their contests in a relatively large 'brass band' catchment area.

    Sorry, disagree here. Black Dyke are not the b-all and end-all of brass bands. Quality they undoubtedly are but there are several other bands I would choose to see in contest and concert ahead of BD.

    I agree to an extent regarding the entry price but why distinguish between what class a family come from?? I go back to a point I made earlier about the expectancy of enticing members of the public in to a concert hall to listen to 15 renditions of the same piece. Whether it costs them £5 or £25 their stereo-typical reaction would still be the same.

    So now you're blaming the players for not being good enough to attract the public to come and listen :rolleyes:. I find the standard of playing at these top contests astonishing. I was at the English Nationals this past weekend and listened to every band. The top three were stunning and the rest of them were exceptional. The quality of musicianship in our top bands has increased ten-fold over the past decade or so.

    There are several issues here. The English Nationals is used for the English qualification to the European and the Open is for the bands that have qualified from the Grand Shield. Would you scrap the European and the Grand Shield too then?

    I would rather travel to Preston than Leeds or Bradford - but then that's just my choice ;)

    Those contests that have a concert attached to them are a good way of, at least, trying to entice the public to come along. If it doesn't work there are only a limited amount of other options you could try. Price is one of them and location another.

    Interesting points.

    Just my thoughts.
  5. sjs

    sjs Member

    I would take issue with MRSH that Preston isn't a "large brass band catchment area". At a recent count up we did (don't ask why!) we counted no less than 57 bands within a 30 minute drive of Preston. Make it 60 minutes and that figure is well up into the hundreds. A large number of local bandspeople came to support the contest.
    The lack of atmosphere at the Guild Hall wasn't necessarily down to lack of attendees. We had a trade stand at yesterday's contest and the lack of people was at least in part down to the prices in the bar. At about 4.30pm at most contests you're lucky if you can get through the door of the bar. At 4.30 pm yesterday the bar was almost empty. Everyone had decamped to the nearby pubs. At £3.20 a pint who could blame them. Exactly the same thing happened in February at the Brass At The Guild Contest. I feel sorry for the contest organisers who as usual did a fantastic job behind the scenes. The way the Guild Hall is managed is out of their hands.
    :wink: By the way - tip for Handleys Band Uniforms. You could have made a fortune yesterday just selling band ties outside the venue. We were right next to the entrance where they were checking tickets and anyone wearing anything like a band uniform was allowed to walk in unchallenged. I noticed a few uniforms that were nothing to do with the competing bands:rolleyes:

  6. Kiz7

    Kiz7 Member

    Okay, food for thought...............
    how many youth band contests struggle for audience numbers? This year I had the privilege to attend the Crosskeys contest (sorry, I know it has some posh name but that's all I can remember at this time of night!) with my daughter and her training band. The hall was packed all day! So much so, that the stewards seemed to be a bit anxious about the EXCESSIVE number of people in the hall listening whilst one band were performing (Camborne Youth)

    Perhaps, and this is only a thought, we are currently playing to the "wrong audience"? I know that I would willingly pay £7-10 to hear my daughter's band(s) play, but that I would have a hard time justifyinging paying £20 to go to the English Nationals to hear bands that I have little or no connection with.

    Just a thought........
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2007
  7. Di

    Di Active Member

    I can understand where you're coming from here Kiz. A fair amount of any audience is likely to be made up of the bands nearest and dearest. How about a bandsperson who wants to bring along the family. Lets say for instance, Mum, Dad, little sister, big brother and maybe Grandma too. Charge them £20 per ticket and thats £100 (correction £120 if said player wants to listen too!) BEFORE you've taken into account any other expenses, ie, lunch, transport, hotels, etc.
  8. eanto

    eanto Member

    I reckon we bandspeople are a pretty closed shop. I've been to a lot of contests (most unsuccessfully!) and the audience seemed predominately band-folk on the whole. We do like to listen to each other when not in the bar or waiting at registration! However, to increase attendance of the general population... god knows!!
  9. Kiz7

    Kiz7 Member

    Mad really isn't it? I can think of many "better" ways of spending my £20 per head - after all, how many kids can stomach listening to 4 or 5 performances of the same test piece?

    I know full well that my own 10 year old brass playing child would be MUCH happier if I spent a fiver (yes, just a fiver) for her to go and spend about 3 hours at the cinema watching Captain Jack Sparrow strutt his stuff in Pirates of the Carribean 3! Actually, I'd prefer it to! Johnny Depp versus Frank Renton, Major Peter Parkes, Richard Evans, Philip McCann etc etc etc!
  10. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    The link between the working class man and his game ended many moons ago, It was someone Kean who played for Manchester someone who coined the phrase Prawn Sandwich eaters, Most premiership grounds are full of Mondeo Man and the Bourgeoisie on a company funded jolly.
  11. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    I agree 100% - but it was you who mentioned it... I was quoting your comments.
  12. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    I don't think you'll ever attract the general public to a contest. Only idiots want to listen to the same piece 20 times. What I noticed at the Masters, where I went just to listen to 19 bands place the same piece ;), was that very few bands actually sat in on other performances. Surely a ticket should be given to those contesting as part of the deal that allows them entry? Mind you it was hard enough to get past 'Security' as it was. Why you couldn't be allowed into the foyer and show your ticket to get into the hall, was a puzzle to quite a few.
  13. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    A student from our band and his younger brother (14?) both came, and even for them the tickets were £15 each.

    Maybe the prices were a little high, especially for such a long day, meaning that to get best value (ie the contest, concert and results) you were definitely going to need 2 meals out and other refreshments.

    It was quite sparsely attended, and I think there may even have been more in the audience at the local contest in February, but bandsmen were allowed in, and tickets were certainly a lot cheaper for that.

    I'm sure it would have been better all round if other competitors were allowed in, it would certainly have been a better atmosphere.
  14. simonbassbone

    simonbassbone Member

    The problem we have on here is that we don't actually know the scale of the problem.

    Is it that few tickets are being sold, hence low audience numbers or are enough tickets being sold for these events to make them financially viable but many people are choosing to listen to only one or two bands meaning a very low audience at any one time.

    I would like to see an area at each contest that Bandsmen could sit in for free to encourage them to listen to each other (I wouldn't pay the usual price when, depending on the draw, I may only get to hear a couple of bands). Whereas if I go as a listener I'm happy to pay £20 for a days entertainment.
  15. MickM

    MickM Member

    The answer to this very old problem is....................put a bar in the hall :biggrin:

    What an atmosphere that would be!!!!!! :p Being true Bands folk you could of course trust people to be very quiet! :rolleyes:

    Sorry! I know it's a very serious topic, but i think it's one that will never be resolved mainly because the social side of banding simply outdoes the competitive side of banding (for the majority) That is, as far as bandsfolk listening to each other goes!

    Getting Jo public in to listen to 15 performances of the same piece?
    That's a hard one!!!:dunno
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2007
  16. Sandy Smith

    Sandy Smith Member

    Would anyone pay to hear 15 orchestras/pop groups/folk groups/string quartets etc. playing the same piece and then wait to be told what two or three judges thought about it ?
  17. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    Free entry to the contest, or at least heavily subsidised prices, for bandsmen and women would help. I know contest organisers have to balance the books but perhaps hitting the pocket of the performers has backfired.
  18. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    I've been to some entertainment contests where this has happened and it was very successful.
  19. BoBo

    BoBo Member

    As a relative newcomer to brass banding I certainly don't have any answers but maybe there are a couple of other factors I can throw in to the melting pot.

    Would I be right in saying that in the old days when Belle Vue was packed out all day, that the public were there to see their local band win, in the same way that people go to a football match to support their team. In those days the local band was a local band, so the band members were perhaps personally known by their supporters, local celebrities perhaps.......and we all know how much of a draw celebrities are.

    As for listening to the same piece 15 or 20 times, I suspect many people do that today listening to popular music on their MP3 players etc., however in those days maybe the local brass band was the only music people had access to, imagine that! So in fact Brass bands were the popular music of the day, if only because there was no choice.
  20. cornetshell

    cornetshell Member

    Nevermind the extortionate ticket prices, i had friends come to support who were not allowed into the bar, as they hadn't bought a ticket- and were rudely turned away!
    "This isnt a public bar you know, not just anyone can come in off the street!"

    So now supporters are expected to attend in walking outs, and you have to be a bander to stand at the bar? Surely they'd be glad of the custom, as the tickets were obviously not going to sell?! [never mind the idea the trade stands would suffer from this?]

    They'd only gone to the bar to mingle/support as they couldn't afford a ticket to listen! -now thats hardly fair...!!?
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2007