”Expressing music in pictures“, Public Marketing, 2018


The cover of the fourth Public Marketing issue in 2018


The Munich Symphony Orchestra and design agency Blackspace launched the “Concert 2.0” project, making the changes within the orchestra visible to the public in a new visual identity.

Sociodemographic changes are also impacting the cultural sector, which is transforming typical classical concert audiences. Symphony orchestras and theaters have spent many years trying to lower the average age of their ticketholders. In addition to changing the program, it’s also necessary to package and present information in a new way. The Konzerthausorchester Berlin was one of the first companies to try, launching a clever marketing campaign: „Ihr seid Berlin. Wir sind der Klang“ (“You’re Berlin. We’re the sound”), emphasizing “typical Berlin moments” like currywurst or the Berlin Zoo in a humorous way (see PUBLIC MARKETING 10/2017). Now, the Munich Symphony Orchestra has decided to go in innovative new directions for the 2018/2019 concert season.

The partner: Blackspace

The Munich Symphony Orchestra is organizing its own subscription series with support from the “Exzellente Orchesterlandschaft Deutschland” (“Excellent German Orchestra Scene”), a grant sponsored by the German federal government. A local concert organizer was previously in charge of sales. Today, the orchestra – which does not have its own concert venue – is daring to make a new beginning: with a new, more modern look in bright yellow. The new design was developed by Munich design agency Blackspace and its Managing Director, Michael Keller. The agency has partnered with the touring orchestra and its Managing Artistic Director, Annette Josef, working pro bono for the symphony. 

They have joined forces to break conventional listening habits with projects that transcend genre, unorthodox locations, and a new way of bringing art to people. The goal is “Concert 2.0” – to redesign the symphony’s main product, the “concert”, to appeal to younger culturally savvy audiences beyond regular visitors. As Annette Josef put it: “Out of the concert hall, into the city. The symphony is bringing music to the people!”

Thinking in terms of video

The supporting campaign in the new brand design, which features pictures of the musicians, is currently on display throughout the city of Munich. At the same time, the video artists at the agency’s so-called “Black Lab” are producing video clips that present the symphony’s concert programs in an entirely new way. The current plan is to produce seven videos that will be broadcast in the social web starting in the fall. The Munich Symphony Orchestra is currently on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, with video channels YouTube and Vimeo to follow.

Michael Keller explains the unusual imagery as part of the “Concert 2.0” concept, a new approach to communicating art to all of the senses: “We want to tell stories. And think in terms of video. The images show what people think about when they listen to music. The concert halls aren’t our only platform. Instead, we want these images to spread throughout the digital space and across social media, on smartphones, Instagram and Vimeo.” Stills from these videos are also featured on concert posters.

The wordmark as intonation

The symphony’s tagline speaks for itself: “Der Klang unserer Stadt” (“The sound of our city”). The newly developed “Münchner Symphoniker” wordmark is onomatopoeia in the truest sense of the word. It emphasizes the umlaut above the “u”, the diaeresis, to visualize the intonation of the word. The logo is reminiscent of a double beat of the drum. The type is based on “Bressay”, a classic Antiqua typeface updated for digital use.

Creating new spaces for art

Annette Josef and Michael Keller got to know each other in 2016 while collaborating on a new temporary concert format, the “Connecting Sounds” project. This special music event took place at the agency’s office, in an old industrial hall. The designers at Blackspace linked the music to sound-reactive table lamps, allowing people to experience the sound in a spatial and visual way as well. Later, guests were seated among the orchestra’s musicians, making them part of the sound installation.

“The visual identity serves as a space for the symphony because we don’t have a concert hall in Munich. It’s important for Munich to claim new spaces for art,” Keller explained. Promoting and developing the arts and culture is very important to the agency director.

Michael Keller also works independently to design new formats that push people’s conventional listening, viewing and communication habits when it comes to cultural institutions. He is a member of the “International Patrons of the Pinakothek”, an organization that supports the expansion of the national and international network of museums in the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen. The “Patrons” also developed the “Königsklasse” pop-up exhibition of major contemporary art. The fourth such exhibition is on display at Herrenchiemsee Palace this May. Another one of Keller’s latest projects is called “new spaces for art”, a workshop series held for the first time during “Munich Creative Business Week” in mid-March. 

Classical marketing is out

In addition to the Munich Symphony Orchestra, Blackspace works with other public sector organizations like the Pinakotheken, the “Patrons“ on Königsklasse, Little Art e.V., Sammlung Schack, Sammlung Vanderloo and the Maybach Foundation. Clients include major brands like Audi, Siemens Home Appliances and Volkswagen. The 65-person agency separated from parent agency KMS TEAM in 2017 and generated 8.5 million euros in revenue. Michael Keller, Christoph Rohrer and Marc Ziegler are the three Managing Partners responsible for running Blackspace, which has focused its work on making transformations visible to the public during times of major change. As such, what Rohrer says about working with companies also applies to artists: “Classical marketing is out. We need new formats that are relevant and make sense – that inspire experiences people truly remember.” (yw)

Exzellente Orchesterlandschaft Deutschland” (“Excellent German Orchestra Scene”)

Last July, the German federal government announced that it would support publicly financed orchestras throughout the country for the first time starting in the 2017/18 season. The sponsorship program “Exzellente Orchesterlandschaft Deutschland” (“Excellent German Orchestra Scene”) is designed to give musicians opportunities for innovative products while “providing lasting momentum in the German music scene.” The federal government and states have included the German orchestra scene in its national Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

The orchestral landscape has been shaped by major changes for decades now, primarily due to the political and economic conditions among supporters (usually the states and municipalities) as well as demographic and structural developments that impact the work of orchestras and their activities. “Many orchestras lack the flexibility and resources they need to go in new directions and examine important questions involving the future of our society and the development of our music culture,” Minister of State for Cultural Affairs Monika Grütters explained. The five-year support program is designed to respond to these developments, helping orchestras respond to changes and try out new strategies. The grants aim to support outstanding and innovative project ideas throughout the country.

“Exzellente Orchesterlandschaft Deutschland” (“Excellent German Orchestra Scene”) targets publicly funded orchestras that regularly perform to enrich the musical lives of their cities or regions. It was passed by the German Bundestag and will last for five years. The model program has up to 5.4 million euros in available funding for the first season. A panel is responsible for awarding grants ranging from 50,000 to a maximum of 450,000 euros. For more information about the program, go to www.kulturstaatsministerin.de.

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