How to Maximise the Commercial Potential of the World Pipe Band Championship Grade 1

Following our recent articles on the Worlds 2022, these social media responses are worth repeating. The first is from from reader Mark Christy:

In past years I too was annoyed by the inability to hear the Grade 1 bands. Indeed the free seat location was far better than the paid seat. The RSPBA should have a study of the professional production down the road.
At the Edinburgh Tattoo it’s all about the customer experience. Nine thousand seats at £40 minimum a pop, sold out for 25 shows is a very big number. That confirms a good customer experience! There is no reason that the best piping on the planet can’t be showcased properly in a professional manner. 

The Edinburgh Tattoo….bands are closer to the crowd

It’s always been difficult to hear the Grade 1 bands, so fix it! The march-on into the circle, how important is that, really? An archaic tradition that was thought up in a bygone era. Concert formation is much easier to create a good listener experience. Get the crowd closer to the band. The distancing from the performance is ridiculous.

The feeling you get as a player with a huge crowd close by is fantastic. An adjudication bench can easily be factored in. Invest in a good professional sound system that eliminates the talking in the crowd simply by overpowering it. Learn from the BBC as they have the sound production figured out. Come on RSPBA, you can do better!


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Another reader wrote: The stand is overrated and grossly over priced. Seats are too far away to properly hear the bands. The emptiness really devalues the excellent performances. The RSPBA need to offer the seats to school / juvenile bands to fill them and further encourage interest from the next generation, and to people who simply need to have a seat due to age or mobility – or at least make the seats a cheaper supplement price to the core entry ticket.

It really doesn’t look good on TV/ livestream having empty stands. It looks as if no one is interested in the world-class, excellent performances. I can’t see there ever being an opportunity for revenue from TV sponsorship as no one would want to put their company logo on a stand with no one interested in sitting there. Companies (and TV audiences) want to be associated with popularity and success, not emptiness and a sight of disinterest. At least have the TV cameras pan onto the large crowd opposite the stands a bit more.

And another: I agree completely [with Mark Christy]. How demoralizing for bands to play in front of 23 people in the stands and four judges. Not to mention the optics. If that’s the World Championship where are the people?


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7 thoughts on “How to Maximise the Commercial Potential of the World Pipe Band Championship Grade 1

  1. I agree that improvements in band presentation (say, into a semi-circle) would benefit the audience and, arguably, the judging.
    However, I would strongly advocate against the use of sound reinforcement in competition settings.
    Sound systems inherently add ‘sound’. Their use at Tattoos or in entertainment settings is totally appropriate where the audience experience doesn’t (shouldn’t) demand the pure sound of the pipes and where the balancing of many numbers of players, some maybe not even from the pipe band idiom, is required.
    However, in competition settings it doesn’t work. And, no professional, live production sound person would ever promise to be able to project a ‘pristine’ representation to a large audience. And, the ‘pristine’ is what the judges, and the discerning audiences, want.
    Yes on the presentation of the bands.
    No on the sound system reinforcement for competition.
    IMHO.

  2. Having just read Jim’s comment, that being the case I would still expect the RSPBA to raise all these issues with Glasgow Life, seek improvements and ensure these are implemented. If the product is the Worlds, the RSPBA still has ownership of that.

  3. What is obviously not common knowledge is that the RSPBA do not arrange, or charge for the seating at the Worlds. RSPBA only “run” the pipe band competition. Everything else is down to Glasgow Life (Glasgow Council) who pay a contracted sum to RSPBA each year to host the competition and then take in all revenue including entrance money, merchandise and fees from trade stands and beer tent.

    1. Well said Jim. It never fails to amaze how many do not know that Glasgow Life , as promoter, is responsible for the general running of the event! The association on the whole run their side of the event in a professional manner with bands arriving at the circle on time etc (even though the judges do struggle to get the results correct – tongue firmly planted in cheek). But as partners both should canvas the thoughts of participants (bands) and other so called stakeholders (the posh word for customers) with a view to continial improvement.

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