Stanford Lively Arts Strikes a Deal with iTunes

Stanford Lively Arts, Stanford on iTunes U and iTunes have launched a new promotion that will allow Stanford University's faculty, staff, students and Lively Arts patrons to download music by artists featured in the upcoming Lively Arts season using free iTunes gift cards. From now through March 15, the cards will be made available to patrons at all Lively Arts performances and to customers at the Stanford Bookstore, Tresidder Express, the Track House Sport Shop, the Cantor Arts Center Gift Shop and the Stanford Shop at Stanford Shopping Center. Lively Arts plans to mail the cards to Stanford students, faculty and staff in early February and will make the cards available to its community partners, including the Palo Alto Unified School District and East Palo Alto's educational program College Track.

The first Lively Arts event where patrons received the iTunes gift cards was the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's performance on Friday, Jan. 25, which featured a new work with music by composer Mikel Rouse titled eyeSpace. During the performance, the audience used iPods distributed at the theater to select and personalize the music that accompanies the dance. Rouse's music is also on the gift card.

In addition, the card will include music of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Blind Boys of Alabama, Meridian Arts Ensemble, Academy of Ancient Music, Turtle Island Quartet, Rosanne Cash, Kronos Quartet, Rob Kapilow and the Pacifica Quartet. Recipients of the cards will be able to download complete tracks from the artists at no charge until they expire on March 31.

This is iTunes' second such promotion with the performing arts at an educational institution. The first was with the University of Illinois' Krannert Center in September 2007. With all of the performing arts centers located at colleges and universities throughout the nation, I wonder if this is beginning of a new trend in the presenting and touring industry. It strikes me as a great way to use iTunes as an audience development tool.