When going to a concert, the audience wants more than music, they want to experience an event.

Socialising and involving audiences at contemporary concerts

Concert talks, a chance to meet the musicians and informal chats in the bar. These are ways to engage the audience and turn contemporary concerts into the type of events that people do not want to miss.

Rock and pop music don’t have this problem since the music meets its audience in events rather than concerts. People go to festivals, nightclubs, discos and private parties – all events that would be unthinkable without music, but that are nevertheless not “concerts” of the type of classical music is stuck in. Luckily the contemporary music scene has begun to move socially and many music ensembles have started to make their concerts more “fun”. They make cocktails for the audience, serve food, play on multiple stages, or even give concerts at their homes.

How do we make the contemporary concert not necessarily “more” than a concert but “something else” than just a concert? And if we do this – how do we still maintain an uncompromising artistic level?

The NewAud project aimed to find answers to these questions.


  • NewAud Evaluation Report

    The final report sums up the outcome of the NewAud project. It evaluates the results regarding audience development, the cooperation of the ensembles, as well as the ensembles' artistic development throughout the project.

  • How Do Audiences Engage With The Arts?

    This document contains the presentation slides from a talk by arts consultant Heather Maitland on how audiences engage with the arts across genres and art forms.

  • How Can We Create a Social Experience?

    This document contains the presentation slides from a talk by arts consultant Heather Maitland on how to turn a concert into a social experience.

  • How To Be Social

    In this article arts consultant Heather Maitland describes how social context can be seen as key in potential audiences' approach to new music. She argues that we all juggle a series of identities evolving over time and depending on the situation. We make these identities believable to ourselves and other people through consumption – including the music we listen to. Social groups and relations are often formed around musical tastes. Going to a concert together adds value to the relationships between members of the group. The article sums up the factors involved in a group's decisions about what concerts to attend, how they influence each other, and how we can help them persuade friends and family through our descriptions of the concerts.

  • A Concert Experience Beyond the Standard Format

    The Dutch ensemble Lunatree created a one hour non-stop performance where the pieces were connected by a soundscape, achieving a sense of “theatre for the ears”. The aim of the concert was to create an intimate setting for the audience and musicians to get together and enjoy previously unheard music. This case report describes the concept of the concert and sums up the do's and don'ts of the experiment, emphasizing the benefits of creating an informal atmosphere and mingling with the audience.

  • New Music at the Jazz Club

    The Dutch ensemble Lunapark brought new music to the audience at a jazz club in a relaxed, informal setting. They presented the piece Bulp by Donacha Dennehy, and contrasted its acoustic minimalism with the electronic minimalism of Japanese sound artist Ryoji Ikeda. This report in brief describes the aims and results of the concert.

  • Three Hours of New Nordic Music

    German Ensemble Recherche created a concert with a programme consisting entirely of contemporary music by composers from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The concert took place in a modern art collection and lasted for three hours, inviting the audience on a journey deep into the Scandinavian night. This document in brief describes the concert.

  • An All Nordic Musical Adventure

    The Crash Ensemble invited the audience to an all Nordic concert in Dublin. The program presented composers from all five Nordic countries and the evening was co-curated by Icelandic composer Valgeir Sigurðsson, attracting a wide audience. A post show party ensured an informal atmosphere, and aligned the concert with popular music from the same region. This document describes the concert in brief.

  • Contemporary Music Taken to Court

    The Galway Ensemble in Residence: ConTempo Quartet and Crash Ensemble joined forces in ditching the concert hall and making the concert a more sociable experience. The local courthouse was chosen as the venue, and on the night of the concert a survey was handed out to learn more about the audience. The main goals of the survey were to build a localized profile of contemporary music audiences and gauge the effectiveness of the concert setting to the audience experience. This concert evaluation report describes the concert and the context of the New Aud project, and shares the findings and analysis from the audience research.

  • An Informal Meeting with an Unusual Composer

    The Cikada Ensemble gave a concert with a programme consisting entirely of works by composer Carola Bauckholt. The setting was quite untraditional as the concert unfolded at a 700 year old fortress in the centre of Oslo. Playing in different halls of the fortress, the ensemble led the audience through the mazes of hallways connecting the venues, enhancing the wholeness of the experience. This document in brief describes the concept of the concert.

  • Brand New Music at The Office

    Athelas Sinfonietta focused on setting the scene for socialising, when they played a concert at a shared creative office space. Athelas aims at making concerts where videos, happenings and staging effects bind the music pieces together to one artistic event. In this case there was a new music video battle before the concert started, and free drinks afterwards. This document in brief describes the concept.

  • Brand New Music at a Rock Venue

    Athelas Sinfonietta played a new music concert at a typical rock music venue. The concert was part of their experimental concert series Brand New Tuesdays. With these concerts Athelas focus on opening up the concerts by rethinking them as social events that embraces and includes the audience. This document in brief describes the concept.

  • A Brand New Concert Format

    Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen integrated their experimental concert format Brand New Tuesdays as a part of the avant-garde music festival KLANG. The vision behind Brand New Tuesdays is to create a direct dialogue with the audience in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. After the concert the ensemble invited the audience to stay for a drink and an informal chat about the works. Athelas conducted a focus group interview with members of the audience, and shares the findings in this evaluation report.