Putting it simply, I think as a whole we are.
As the years change, so does the demographic (your audience). 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 all of the time.
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 before) 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 just their year alone.
Then there’s the massive songs from the TV or movies that we constantly get reminded of.
So, when you have a more diverse and difficult target market – what do you do? Some are 24 – 45… Can you appeal to them?
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’. You have to be 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”, “easy-listening”, “rock”… Those are my descriptions for a radio station, but basically it’s that one style that says what and who you are.
I do believe in focused playlists and making sure that music is more likely to appeal to mass than an individual. 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 too much about if the song was released before our time, if it’s still liked by many and is famous enough… Put it on. Particularly if you are a smaller station competing against some of the bigger stations in your TSA.
Any comments on this are very welcome below!