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Inspirational Performances in Your Pocket at the School of Music

Unfold of the Music Makes Us brochure.

Increasing attendance at events was one of three main priorities laid out in 2014 when new leadership came on board at Carnegie Mellon School of Music. Since stagnating attendance at School of Music events was part of the main priorities set forth, it dovetailed into being a part of a broader conversation about the positioning and branding of the school. An evaluation of the marketing and communications strategies led to recommendations put forth to meet the designated goals. Research and analysis of past attendee data and financial resources spent on marketing were also part of the new marketing and communications plan.


A consensus about the best way to move forward was focused around making the case that at Carnegie Mellon the high-quality performances successfully bridged a gap between a student and professional ensembles in the region. Understanding this market assessment created a path forward in repositioning the School of Music events as a market need.

Three necessary deliverables were agreed upon as critical steps and an infrastructure needed to meet the short-term goal of increasing attendance while also laying the groundwork for longer-term brand awareness initiatives:

  • An event marketing calendar highlighting premium events each year.

  • A post-season evaluation template to assess the School’s ROI and future planning priorities..

  • A Customer Relationship Management system designed to compile information across multiple platforms.

As a digital campaign component, every week a the school’s newsletter (This Week in Music) highlighted a selection of performances.


An immediate change that happened was to make a shift away from promotional tactics that were not able to be consistently and reliably measured to determine effectiveness. In doing so, we refocused campaigns around tactics and strategies that were easily aligned with key performance indicators and then set forth with defining initial benchmark quantitative goals:

  • A 25% increase in attendance at targeted performances for the initial school year.

  • When a new CRM is in place, a minimum of 75% of ticketed attendee information will be collected to define audience segmentation, and create targeted messaging.

  • Decrease the per ticket spend by at least 25% in the first year.

“Dana is an expert in his field and a consummate professional. His ability to lead multiple projects successfully with key constituents led to his success in raising the School of Music’s profile for CMU.”

— Katherine Drago Luellen | New England Innovation Academy



Once implemented, we started to see early indications of some initial promising results from the new marketing and communications campaigns. One of the first signs of success was that attendance grew for events by 40% within the first year - surpassing our initial goal. Here are some of the other results we were seeing:

  • For four years, attendance grew by more than 90% at the School of Music events.

  • The new CRM enabled an increase in the capture of attendee data from approximately 70% per event to more than 95% regularly.

  • Overall, the new strategies shifted the return on investment in event advertising by cutting the per ticket spend by 38.44%.

note: Wall-to-Wall Studios was the School of Music’s brand design agency for this project.


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