In this “GCP Despatches from the Field” series, Isabel shares her experience of her team’s project with Carnegie Hall in New York.

Carnegie Hall (New York, NY, USA)
Isabel Siragusa

We knew we had arrived at Carnegie Hall the moment we walked into our designated work space and it was actually a practice room complete with piano and music stand. Though a few members of our group are musically inclined (and entertain us with tunes during lunch), nothing compares to the sounds that periodically waft down the hall as we work—piano, violin, clarinet, entire choral groups—most of the time just a scale or two but when immense talent plays a scale it still sounds beautiful.

That’s not to say Carnegie Hall is not a fully functioning business as well as a hub for musical greatness. The challenge of attracting an audience to more than 170 shows a year in three venues seating over 3000 people a night while maintaining artistic integrity attracts some of the best business and artistic minds. With close to 400 employees and a multi-level office with exposed brick and large windows at times Carnegie Hall feels more like a startup attempting attract engineering talent than a 127-year-old classical music venue. Part of the beauty of the building comes not from a trendy architectural choice but from the fact the offices used to be studio apartments designed by Henry Hardenburgh, the architect for the Plaza Hotel. Until 2010, Carnegie Hall rented out these affordable apartments to artists at including Marlon Brando, Leonard Bernstein, and Isadora Duncan before turning them into offices and an education wing.

Our own GCP project matches the size and scope of the legendary Hall as we attempt to solve an industry wide problem—to reduce churn for single ticket buyers. Live entertainment venues all around the world are struggling thanks in part to the rise of online entertainment platforms like Netflix and competition in New York is especially fierce with Broadway and the Metropolitan Opera just a few blocks away. Luckily Carnegie Hall has the prestige and acoustical prowess to keep longtime customers returning again and again, but it still struggles to encourage first time buyers to return.

We are less than two weeks away from presenting a strategy to Carnegie’s marketing team, but I’m not worried. My Judge classmates have such talent and insight that I know we will be able to provide a few actionable steps that will be relatively easy to implement. I’m the only one with a performing arts background but an outsider’s insight might be just what the problem needs. With a diverse background both in work experience and culture each member of our group attacks the problem from another direction. While we won’t solve the industry wide problem in a month’s work, if a few key changes can decrease churn even by a few percentage points, we can make a significant financial impact.