The Importance of Reaping Revenue From the ‘Other’ Category

Chiscago Symphony Orchestra. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg

Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg

In contrast to the gloomier news in other spots in the symphonic world, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has reported increases in revenue from both tickets and donations and a much, much smaller operating deficit.

In fact, this year’s ticket sales record of just over $22 million surpassed last year’s sales, which were also a record. Very interestingly, to me, about $10 mm in revenue came from what I’d call the “Other” category, which included “tour fees, merchandise sales, space rentals, royalties, recording fees and miscellaneous activities.” Here’s the thing about that. $10 mm is a big number, and it takes a lot of work to drive that kind of revenue. Without it at this level, or even if it were just half its current level, this financial report would change from one that is full of reasons to be optimistic to catastrophic.

It’s commendable because those are easy kinds of activities to either overlook or minimize, but they can make all the difference in the world to the financial viability of the organization.

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