Demystifying Youth Culture’s Marketing Myths - Part 4
by Bill Carter
Youth Culture and the Decline of Music
As we continue to explore various youth marketing myths, this month we focus on another pillar of youth culture – music. Despite everything you’ve read about flagging record sales, the importance of music – and how a brand uses music to connect to teens and young adults – has never been greater.
For more than a decade, it has been reported time and time again that record sales, and the music industry as a whole, are in decline. A 2010 CNN report detailed the decline as so severe that in just ten years the industry was worth only half of what it was in 2000. This steep drop in music sales prompted some to believe that music consumption was also declining rapidly, but in fact music consumption is as robust as ever.
Consumers are still buying, downloading, sharing and talking about music through a growing selection of online agents like YouTube, Hypem, Pandora, and Spotify. Digital components of various music verticals like Pitchfork’sTumblr or Billboard’s Twitter have also increased the frequency and depth of discovery for consumers. Aigerim S., an 18 year old member of Fuse Source (Fuse’s proprietary teen and young adult panel), embodies the behavior of many young consumers: she listens to music online every day and uses sites like Pandora to continue discovering new artists. “Pandora is an amazing way for me to find new bands and new songs,” Aigerim said in a recent Fuse Source study on music consumption habits.
Not surprisingly, the rise in popularity of many newer pop stars can be attributed in part to how music is consumed online. Take for example Britain’s One Direction, the five member boy-band that launched its major North American debut almost entirely with an online marketing strategy that is resulting in exceptional exposure and record sales. Earlier this spring the group announced its trans-oceanic tour on YouTube while hinting at ticket giveaways for their 4.7 million Facebook fans. To date, the video has received just over half a million views. With over 54 million views and 60 videos on One Direction’s YouTube channel alone, it’s evident that value has been placed on creating and maintaining a powerful digital fan base. In April of this year, One Direction was listed as No. 2 on Billboard’s Social 50 chart, outranked only by one of the pioneers of digital music marketing, Justin Beiber.
So considering where music is today, how can a brand best include music in its marketing to stay connected and relevant to youth consumers? We recommend to our clients that they begin by answering three basic questions: 1) How certain are you that the music you’ve selected is “on brand” and resonates with your targeted consumers? If you are not 100% sure, consider accessing consumer feedback directly to gain valuable insights; 2) How are you utilizing music at the “experiential” level? Your live events (ones you own and ones you sponsor) as well as retail should include a relevant music experience – if they don’t, then implement a strategy that does; and 3) What is your digital music strategy? The range of tactics available online is vast and yours should include music, whether it’s selecting the right soundtrack for Youtube videos or developing your own channel on Pandora.
Bill Carter is a partner at leading youth culture marketing services firm, Fuse. Bill has advised some of the most successful companies in America, including Pepsi, Yahoo!, Sony, Harley-Davidson, Gatorade, Converse, and others. He has been awarded Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Award as one of the most influential and important young executives in sports and named one of the 20 most influential people in action sports by that same media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fuse is an award-winning youth marketing agency that connects brands with youth through sports, music, fashion and other relevant youth cultural interests. Located in New York, NY and Burlington, VT, Fuse’s services include Consulting, Social Media and PR, Creative Services, Research and Event Marketing. For white papers, research, and other information, please visit us at www.fusemarketing.com, www.facebook.com/FuseLLC or www.twitter.com/fuse_marketing.