The Covid-19 pandemic left arts venues empty and performers unable to connect with live audiences, making it a challenging time for performers and music fans alike.
However, it also drove musicians to create new opportunities to connect with wider audiences and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) leveraged its presence on online channels to do just that.
Thanks to the SCO’s online performances, audiences new and old, at home and abroad, have been able to enjoy cultural experiences from their homes during lockdown, something that has been possible thanks to the Orchestra’s established relationship with Pulsant.
A world-class ensemble
Recognised by BBC Music Magazine as “one of the finest ensembles of its kind in the world today”, the SCO brings together a diverse group of world-class musicians.
The SCO’s objective has always been to connect with and inspire people of all ages through the power of music, from classical to contemporary and beyond.
Led by young, exuberant and inspirational conductor Maxim Emelyanychev, the SCO is on a mission to provide as many people as possible with opportunities to hear live orchestral music. It has toured the length and breadth of Scotland and travelled throughout Europe, the Far East, India and the US.
It’s not just the SCO’s performances that enrich Scottish life – the Orchestra’s award-winning Creative Learning programme sees it working with schools, universities, hospitals, care homes and community centres to help people from all walks of life learn about music and explore their creativity.
A harmonious partnership
The SCO’s partnership with Pulsant dates back more than 25 years, helped due to the strong presence Pulsant has always had in Edinburgh where the SCO is based.
Three Pulsant data centres, including Scotland’s largest data centre (South Gyle), provide colocation and networking services to businesses in and around the city.
SCO’s partnership first began when the emergence of the internet required the SCO to establish an online presence. Since then, Pulsant has provided the SCO with broadband connectivity, web hosting and event sponsorship.
The evolution of the internet, including email and social media, continues to drastically change how organisations operate and Pulsant has been on hand every step of the way to keep the SCO connected, agile and able to reach its digital potential.
Over the years, hundreds of Pulsant staff have had the pleasure of attending the SCO’s energetic and memorable live performances.
“We know we can trust Pulsant after a quarter of a century working together,” says Gavin Reid, Chief Executive of the SCO. “Having such a reliable partner that is ready to help us out at every hurdle has certainly reduced the burden brought about by the pandemic while keeping us well and truly on the map.”
A new way to connect with audiences.
The SCO prides itself on its energetic live performances, but opportunities to perform quickly disappeared as the pandemic hit and concert halls around the world fell silent.
However, the SCO knew there was a wide audience, perhaps including further afield, that would welcome and benefit from its music – people stuck at home, dealing with the struggles and restrictions which had been ladened upon them.
“We knew there were new audiences to reach and opportunities to connect with people burdened by lockdown who were yet to discover the magic of live orchestral music,” says Reid.
The Orchestra’s musicians were also lacking the outlet they were used to through their performances. To put it simply, the SCO needed to do something to reach its full potential under the limitations of the pandemic.
Authentic orchestral experiences in the digital domain
To solve the challenges brought about by Covid-19, the SCO outlined a new set of brand principles. It would place excellence, quality, and accessibility at the heart of everything it would do moving forward. Taking its performances online was the answer.
By recording live performances and broadcasting them ‘as live’ via YouTube, the SCO would be able to connect digitally with new and existing audiences online, providing excellence, quality, and accessibility for all.
The SCO’s channel views in the year prior to the pandemic totalled just over 25,000. 12 months on, the channel’s views were 231,900. Similarly, watch time increased from 705 hours in 2019 to 17,000 hours during the pandemic, an increase of over 2300%. Finally, impressions across social media also increased over 600%, totalling over 1.3 million.
It was clear that this would not just be a short-term fix while Covid-19 restrictions were in place. It would enable the SCO to connect with audiences all over the world online beyond the pandemic.
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“Our pivot to online performances has been incredibly well-received,” says Reid. “The uplift in viewership has been so gratifying for all of us at the Orchestra during this otherwise challenging time. While we have not been able to get out and tour, we’ve still been able to connect with international audiences.
“Pulsant has played a pivotal role in establishing and sustaining our digital presence, both historically through keeping us online and supporting our presence over the years, and recently, with the reliability of their connectivity helping to make our online performances so successful.
“Thanks to Pulsant, what otherwise could have been a really stressful shift was in fact seamless and delivered without a hitch.”
Pulsant is proud to continue supporting the SCO, providing the digital underpinnings that allow the Orchestra to connect with audiences in Edinburgh and beyond.
The firm also continues to sponsor SCO live events and both parties are looking ahead to more opportunities to bring performances to audiences both in-person and online.