Old pop isn’t just the nickname of your cool uncle in Williamsburg, it’s also the name of a new campaign to rebrand classical music in Toronto.
According to Alphonso Nonomé, a marketing researcher commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, he found that “old popular music” had less of a stigma than “classical music” — suggesting a need to rebrand the entire genre to attract new audiences.
“Gone are the days of classical repertoire standing alone and just being enough,” Nonomé told Ludwig Van. “This rebranding approach would cater to a new audience by reminding them that classical music used to be the popular music of its day. Classical music for a modern-day world has a new name, and we’re calling it “Old Popular Music.”
Nonomé took his finding to arts organizations in Toronto working in classical music, and made the pitch based on his findings.
The TSO was particularly taken with the rebranding idea, especially as concerts with film music, and orchestra pops continue to flourish.
According to an email from the TSO, the plan outlines the steps towards rebranding, which includes billboards and other environmental display placements. A new coalition will be formed to guide the efforts of Vaynor Media, the New York City based-firm hired to handle the brand positioning.
“Classical music has a certain stigma attached to it in certain people’s minds,” Vaynor Media CEO Gary Vayner said. “There is a perception that classical music is for older people, and this needs to change. Bach, Beethoven and Mozart were rock stars. We’d do very well to remember that.”
The rebrand coalition has been in talks with organizations throughout the city to help with the transition. Groups backing the initiative include The Royal Conservatory of Music, Canadian Music Centre, The Music Gallery, Soundstreams, Esprit Orchestra, the Art of Time Ensemble, and the Toronto Summer Music Festival.
We’ve long since had a problem with the term “Classical Music”, said a representative from Soundstreams. “This rebrand is also about demographics, especially the coveted millennial audience, and we’re making the commitment to never use the term ‘classical music’ again.”
Out of the 15 arts groups contacted about the study and proposed rebrand, Tafelmusik stood firmly against the idea.
“We like the term ‘classical music’ just fine,” an outgoing marketing employee said. “The only issue we really have is with the continuous mispronouncing of Baroque music. The proper “Baroque” pronunciation, which sounds a little like “Barack” [Obama], should be honoured — other than that — we’ve come to terms with classical music becoming a niche. Nothing wrong with that.”