There's a special connection between performers and their audience, an almost electric energy that flows between them. An audience’s enthusiasm pushes performers to new heights, which only intensifies the audience’s reaction. So what happens when that connection is broken? Can it be made in other ways?
Answering those questions takes creativity, which, fortunately, performing arts organizations have an abundance of. Take the Metropolitan Opera. For the Met, rising to the challenge of the past year has meant using video to unlock new ways to engage fans, monetize content, and grow its audience, even with its entire performance season cancelled.
“The combination of the arts and technology is pretty powerful. It has completely expanded our audience in such wonderful and exciting ways. It’s changed the game in some sense for us,” says Mia Bongiovanni, Assistant General Manager of Media at the Metropolitan Opera. “What we want more than anything, and I think our audience wants more than anything, is that we return to performing on our stage, hopefully as quickly as we can. But we have the opportunity now to welcome in everyone who has reached out to us in this time and think about creative ways to keep engaged.”
A TREASURE TROVE OF ARCHIVAL CONTENT
The Met Opera has always embraced technology and had already laid the groundwork to reach its audience on mobile, web, and TV before 2020. “When we started ‘Met Opera on Demand,’ that technology was our bridge to the audience. We made sure that we had a platform in place to reach them wherever it was convenient,” says Bongiovanni. “Thankfully we were able to put our rich catalog into play very quickly and start connecting with people. We’re fortunate to have extensive programming going back to when we started broadcasting in the 1970s, our radio broadcasts going back to the 1930s, and our ‘Live in HD’ series.” At the very start of the pandemic, the Met started streaming “encore” performances nightly from its extensive library. As a result, these streams garnered more than 408 million total viewing minutes, and the number of Met Opera on Demand paid subscribers more than doubled.
CREATING NEW CONTENT FROM HOME
The Metropolitan Opera’s “At Home Gala,” proudly streamed by Brightcove, was a virtual event featuring more than 40 artists performing for an audience of more than 750,000 people from 150 countries. “It was one of the greatest projects I’ve ever worked on. And it was an emotional experience,” says Bongiovanni. Making use of whatever technology artists had available at home, new performance content came together with some masterful orchestration. “It was wonderful to see our artists figure out how to bring their creativity to life within the confines of their home, and into people’s homes,” says Bongiovanni. “If we needed more light, they’d grab an old lamp. If we needed to change the camera angle, they’d prop their laptop up on a ladder or an ironing board, whatever. It was very homemade, and therefore very human.” The Gala also featured prerecorded segments showcasing the extraordinary Met Orchestra and Chorus.
REACHING NEW AUDIENCES AND DEMOCRATIZING THE ARTS
With people having more time at home to explore the arts, opera seems to be having a moment. “We have all of these new people out there who are discovering that opera is a wonderful art form. They may never have listened to an opera before or thought they would enjoy it, but they’re discovering it. And for us, of course, it’s the silver lining, and it’s thrilling.” For those who may not have been able to travel to New York to attend the opera, video has also opened up access. “Honestly, it speaks to the power of the art form, the power of the creative community to bring solace and comfort in difficult times,” says Bongiovanni. “It really shows the power of technology to connect on a human level.”
Brightcove is incredibly proud to partner with the Met Opera to continue to connect with and grow its audiences everywhere through the powerful combination of music and video.
Click here for the latest information on how you too can enjoy everything the Met Opera has to offer.
Nick Iuliano is Brightcove's Senior Director of Content, helping to tell our best brand, product, customer, and partner stories across global marketing channels.