Putting it simply, I think as a whole we are. I do also understand that you need a good reason why…
Let me explain a little further. We’re obviously now getting well towards 2016, but as the years change, so does the demographic (the age of your listener gradually heads out of your target and into another, in theory). Stations which only play ‘current’ music have a clear target audience which is young people, however, does that mean that ‘old’ music is going to always only appeal to older people. In a mass target audience, it’s not always the case.
In commercial radio especially, there’s a lot of testing and research that’s gone behind the music that is played, to help make sure that they are playing what the audience likes. A lot of thought is also put behind which year the song came from, in case it wasn’t released in the time they were born. But does this matter? I don’t actually think it does.
When we’re growing up, we’re exposed to such a wide range of music. We hear it used in films, commercials, on the radio itself, walking outside, shopping, nightclubs, discos, parents… The list goes on. So, what about the music they’re playing back then? Surely they could be playing music from the 80s (and under) and we still could have memories of hearing those songs, even though they were released before we were born. You only have to go places and see that this actually happens, people remember or know songs for many more reasons than their jsut their year alone. This is why so many stations now drop their ‘guess the year’.
So, when you have a more diverse and difficult target market – what do you do? Trying to aim for those in their 30s and 40s?
Well, firstly, I think we need to get over that age barrier and play songs that most people can sing along to, songs that are easily recognisable regardless of the year they were from, maybe some from big movies or TV shows (bringing back memories still) yet still keeping to a ‘format’. For example, being careful not to make it too diverse and attracting nobody…
Stations can have too much of a wide range and end up pleasing pleasing nobody. Stick to your “sound” of the station, whether that be “friendly”, “singalong”, “edgy”, “rock”… Those are my descriptions for a radio station, but basically it’s that one style that says what and who you are.
Having said all of this, I do believe in focused playlists and making sure that music is more likely to appeal to mass than an individual (every good ‘controller’ would anyway). I just thought I’d share my view on our perceptions of the age of music, particularly when it comes to commercial radio. Maybe we should stop worrying about a song being from the 60s 70s, 80s or 90s and think if it’s still liked by many and is famous enough… Put it on.
Any comments on this are very welcome below!