Marketing Music Multi-Generationally

222211048_416deb9c00While still a young disk jockey back in my native Champaign, Illinois, I was captivated along with much of my radio audience by a new group out of Bath, England that took its strange name from American psychologist Dr. Arthur Janov, whose Primal Therapy suggested tears as a replacement for fears. Thursday night, some 25 years later, the band Tears for Fears will kick-off their 2010 U.S. Tour from MotorCity Casino Hotel’s Sound Board.

Besides reliving the old classics I am particularly eager to see the demographic makeup of those in attendance. Last year, I attended a Steve Miller show at DTE and was amazed by the sea of young people. It was, in fact, one of the most packed shows I had ever been to at the venue. When I asked one of the 20-something attendees why the appeal of the artist, they replied: I grew up listening to him because my parents listened to him. I could identify; with an appreciation for Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick and Johnny Mathis borne out of hearing their music, as enjoyed by my parents, on the family stereo as a youth.

As I’ve written before, for older alternative/art-rock tinged groups such as Tears for Fears, radio has not been kind in recent decades. Classic rock will play a Steve Miller Band—not so a Genesis or Rush. Instead, a band like Tears or Asia or Toto have continued to market themselves directly to their core constituents through their Web sites, touring and new product. And, quite often, the most ideal means by which to engage new “customers” (fans) is through “referrals” (endorsements) from existing customers. In this way, for bands, a fan base can be strengthened and built upon from generation to generation.

Moreover, the ability to transport and listen to a music collection anytime anyplace via iPod and other MP3 players, is only fueling a multi-generational demand for new tunes, from new, established and artists that might be considered by some to be “long in the tooth.” For groups like Tears for Fears, their latest “coming out” could be one of the best times ever for them to shout, shout, let it all out—now and for many years to come.