Softly, I will earn you softly . . .

A friend pointed out a terrific article (by Philippe Ravanas of Columbia College Chicago) on the Metropolitan Opera’s self-developed customer software (abstract here, full text available for $6 Canadian from the International Journal of Arts Management), which has proved to be an earned income generator as well as a system for keeping close tabs on ticket-buyers and donors.  The Met and a nonprofit consortium of early users of the software licenses the program, called Tessitura, to performing arts groups throughout the country.

Anyone have any experience with this box-office/fundraising/customer service data base and management system?  And does anyone have any parallel experience of developing a management tool that proved saleable?

Two things stood out: that the Met and its fellows decided to sell the software through a nonprofit because "not-for-profit status guaranteed that the [consortium] would focus on supporting its members and fulfilling its mission, without the profit or growth motives of outside investors" (social entrepreneurs, take note!); and that the Met Board frowned on the licensing idea and only permitted it to go forward after staff had already sold a few licenses on its own initiative and had the cash in hand to prove it worked–a fact so rich with meaning it beggars any comment.

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3 Responses to “Softly, I will earn you softly . . .”

  1. Tessitura User Says:

    Most, if not all, of the largest arts nonprofits in Chicago use Tess. There’s a learning curve, ’cause it’s not for a company that doesn’t have IT expertise. But the info it can provide is very, very impressive.

  2. Anita Bernstein Says:

    At the risk of demonstrating I’m the dumbest person on your site: Could you explain the headline? I don’t recognize it … even though I’m an opera fan and opera seems to be the subject.

  3. Nonprofiteer Says:

    There’s less to the headline than meets the eye–it’s a reference to a 1950s pop standard “Softly, I will leave you softly, for my heart would break if you should wake and see me go.” It seemed apt only because the Met didn’t set out to be entrepreneurial but fell into it–softly, as it were. You didn’t get it not because you’re dumb but because it was.

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