Music Marketing

Does The Record Industry Ignore Baby Boomers?

image from www.eaglesband.comMore specifically, can they afford to?  On a national touring level, it’s easy to see that most of the acts out there, making rounds, aren’t targeted towards today’s youth, as much as they are adults. While teens listen to the groups and may go, the legacy acts and their dominance has more to do with the economics of live music and the subsequent failure of the record and tour industries to produce more talent that can draw as heavy of crowds as the older groups than it does lack of interest among youth. 

Not surprisingly, if you turn the dial to the area Top 40 radio station, you’d be pressed to find a handful of acts that have any relevance to the older generation.  In a period of declining physical music sales, is this an oversight? In a recent nielsonwire post, they argue that by solely focusing their marketing on the youth, “advertisers and consumer goods manufacturers are overlooking a group that has tremendous buying power: the 78 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. today.” 

Apparently, the conventional wisdom that Boomers spent little, resist technology, and are slow to adopt new products needs to be reevaluated. The post reports that, contrary to popular belief, “Boomers are an affluent group who adopt technology with enthusiasm.”  As well, in the market, they have also shown a willingness to try new brands and products. Is it possible that Baby Boomers would actually be interested in trying out new artists too?  There is reason to believe so.  After all, parents do share the ride home with their kids and inevitably are overpowered in determining what will be listened to.  But, if none of the music has any relevance to them and the quality of the content, arguably, doesn’t meet their "higher" expectations, why would they even consider buying the music?

This is disheartening, in part, because they are the group most likely to want to buy the whole album and own it.  Yet, in a market where popular music is only being pandered towards their children, maybe Baby Boomers are turning away.  According to the nielsonwire post, the record industry may have their thinking backwards. “Boomers,” they say, “should be as desirable for marketers as Millennials and Gen-Xers…” Why?  Because they happen to be “the largest single group of consumers, and a valuable target audience.”  While some parents may be open to listening to songs like “Cooler Than Me,” "Billionaire", and “Ridin' Solo,” it’s likely that they won't be running out the buy the albums anytime soon.

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  1. The problem I see with this, is that a lot of the older groups never release any new material. Instead, they rely on their catalog of hits to sell tickets. Songs that still get played on classic rock stations, but are no longer relevant on today’s top 40 stations.

  2. Hell, I’m a Gen-Xer and most of MY friends only listen to legacy acts from the 80s and 90s these days. This has been a real pet peeve of mine for the last few years because I’ve been trying to introduce my friends to new music so I could have the joy of sharing music with friends and going to gigs with them like we used to.
    But even though some of the acts I listen to now are firmly in the same musical genres as those legacy acts, almost none of my friends could be bothered to get out of their comfort zone. My sincere recommendations are met with the sound of crickets chirping and then “OMG! Bon Jovi are tourig this year!!!!”.
    Very frustrating.

  3. Many excellent points in the blog post which confirms why we created the music site Our focus is classic artists (Peter Frampton, Elvis Costello, Shawn Colvin, Colin Hay) as well as the new generation of artists making names for themselves (Cory Chisel, Tift Merritt, The National, etc.). We have found that all of these artists appeal to the Boomer audience. It is possible to attract the Boomer group without being in the past. It is more about inclusion than exclusion. Ultimately, Boomers just want to hear great music and be invited to the party.

  4. I am a baby boomer and I think we suffer from “marketing” fatigue. Frankly, anything that hints that I “must have”, “must listen,” “must see,” inspires me to hit the delete button. As a musician, my most potent sales tool is me performing in venues that look more like Washington Square Park and not Madison Square Garden or even the local bar. As people stroll by and find my music arresting, whether it is my original tunes written in genres they recognize or beloved covers, they seem to buy out of a desire for personal connection.

  5. I play in a band that is heavily influenced by classic rock while still maintaining a fresh sound to the music. All of the members are 25-27 years old, and we’ve had tons of success in appealing to baby boomers, so I definitely agree that baby boomers are open to trying out new music. The biggest issue that we’ve had is finding venues that suit their needs and make them comfortable. I think that they are used to going to bigger venues where the legends play, so it’s difficult to get them out to smaller venues. But when we do find those venues they come out and we make a good chunk of change. I think that A&R’s and booking agents tend to stay away from bands like us, when in reality baby boomers would love some new acts to fall in love with.

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