I’ll spare you the “change is difficult” and “change is unsettling” message. You already know that.
For various reasons, my employment has been mostly as the change agent, the person brought in to modify or even overhaul a radio station’s sound and approach to programming classical music and on-air announcing.
The changes I recommended and implemented were basic and common sense. Play music that people (not necessarily the music programmers) like. Talk and sound like a human being, and use listener language.
There was great resistance, even secret meetings where some long time, entrenched staff met to plan a revolution.
The word “dumbing-down” came up frequently.
The changes were made to the chagrin of many, and the temperature of each station consequently reached an obvious chill.
The summary of the emails, letters and phone calls basically said, “David Shrenneck has ruined the station, and all my friends say so.”
And then, the numbers came in.
Audience numbers increased and fundraising revenue increased. Dramatically.
The audience growth was surprising to some, and unhappily surprising and depressing to others. Mind blowing too.
Remember – I said these were basic changes – I was not inventing or innovating anything new or radical.
The one thing that became clear – what was so difficult for my long time, entrenched colleagues – was the revelation that not many people were listening to their shows or their station. There was a larger audience that wanted something different.
I also learned that “should” is a four-letter word. “They should hear this music.” “They should like this music.”
Life in the performing arts is that balance between being yourself, standing up for what you believe, being passionate about it and doing it very well….and the real world. What does your audience want, and how can you deliver it by still being true to yourself?
Find that balance and you’ll gain your audience’s trust. You will become even more influential, and they will happily follow you anywhere, including into foreign musical lands.