LSO Live: an evolving partnership with Marquee TV

It is rare to find an arts organisation that has truly flourished in the face of the difficulties of the past two years, but in the realm of the digital concert hall things have been a little different.

Founded in 2018, arts streaming service Marquee TV began to establish itself firmly as a leading player in this sphere. Now, just three years later, Marquee TV has forged partnerships with orchestras, ballet theatres and opera companies all over the world.

Marquee TV’s Director of Partnerships, Susannah Simons, began her career in broadcasting, and has since worked with multiple major cultural institutions such as Classic FM and BBC Radio and Music. Susannah has long been a passionate advocate for digital distribution for the performing arts and a firm believer in the benefits it can create. At Marquee TV she now finds herself putting theory into practice.

Susannah sat down with us to discuss Marquee TV’s humble beginnings, the London Symphony Orchestra’s growing relationship with the platform, and her goals for the future.

Could you tell us about the early days of Marquee TV?

Marquee TV was set up in 2018, and originally focused on licensing existing films from a variety of mostly European distribution companies. This allowed us to build a sizeable collection of great performances from the likes of the Royal Opera House, Royal Shakespeare Company and Glyndebourne. I joined the company in April 2019 with the express task of developing close partnerships with the arts organisations themselves so we could work together to build a strong, engaged audience.

Fast forward to 2021, have any changes taken place at Marquee TV as a result of the pandemic?

The year 2021 was extraordinary in many ways. We saw a huge increase in subscriber numbers as people around the world realised that they could still enjoy the best of the world’s performing arts whilst they were forced to stay at home. It also meant that many arts organisations who had been reluctant to consider streaming their work realised that digital distribution platforms like Marquee represented an opportunity rather than a threat.

During the year, we also started co-commissioning work and have had a really fruitful discussion about the benefits of filming work specifically for the screen as opposed to simple capture. I am particularly proud of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw from Glassworks Opera and Bach’s St John Passion from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Have there been any unexpected positives?

One of the most exciting things we have discovered is a large audience among 18–35 year olds, attracted, perhaps, by the way filming these concerts in an innovative way allows the music to breathe – set free from the constraints of the concert hall. We know from the feedback that we get from audiences that they love being introduced to new performers, as well as familiar compositions.

What have been the highlights of your partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra so far?

We also started to work with the London Symphony Orchestra for the first time in 2021, the Orchestra has helped to form the backbone of our new Music strand. Classical music now accounts for about 30% of our viewing, which is very exciting for us. Many of those viewers are outside the UK, particularly in the US, which is a great opportunity for those organisations we work with to develop their fan base. Sir Simon Rattle also led the way in providing short interviews that put the concerts into context for new audiences.

What is your vision for Marquee TV over the coming years?

We have just signed a new two-year agreement with the LSO so, as we look forward to 2022, we will be working together to introduce this marvellous music and this great orchestra to new audiences around the world.

Where can you find us?

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Programme notes

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