Marketing Music to the Over 50s

Marketing music products has always been difficult, whether it is live concerts, digital or on cellulose. The challenge is even greater when marketing to the Over 50s and can at times be a tricky thing for marketers to get their heads around. Take a look at a few thoughts on what works, and what doesn’t, when marketing music to an older audience.

Segment, Segment, Segment

Whatever you do, don’t lump everyone into one homogenous group! Detailed segmentation of your audience remains crucial when focusing on the over 50s, particularly when it comes to music. Tastes will vary hugely decade by decade, even year by year, as will the methods and means of consumption. A 50-year-old man is clearly far more likely to be still heading off to a stand-up gig in a bar than an 80-year-old woman.

How is Music Consumed?

Similarly, it’s important to be aware of how older people listen to their music, as not everyone will have Spotify or Apple Music! The AARP in the US took this to heart, identifying the huge potential for marketing accessible digital music to the over 50s, and launched a free streaming service, identifying it as ‘music for grownups’. The combo of a simple message, an easy to use and understand user interface, and a catalogue of classics designed to address the tastes of their audience was clever and effective.

There is a huge differentiation in attitudes towards consumerism between the over 50s and the younger market. Older people tend to be far more individualistic and follow the crowd less than younger consumers. This means that you can’t just play off established trends in the music industry, but need to dive deep into your audience’s likes and interests, and be as targeted as you possibly can.

Music Marketing Success Story

Although word of mouth and physical, analogue marketing plays very well to the over 50s market, and it is critical to reach out to critics and reviewers, don’t be tempted to completely ignore digital marketing! The right, targeted ads and campaigns, on the right platforms, will deliver results.

The campaign around Tony Bennet and Diana Krall’s latest collaboration album is a great example of this. First announced on Bennet’s 92nd birthday, they reached out on their social accounts, solicited fan interaction including birthday wishes and singalongs to his classic hits, and rolled out teaser content. The eventual release was accompanied by a crowdsourced video of fan contributions, personalised thanks and offers for fans, and a virtual history of the songs on the album. This direct engagement was immensely successful, and the album was the #1 jazz album in the US.

Throw Out The Stereotyping – Go Inclusive

It is rare for older people to feature prominently in advertising except in ads for products only of interest to an ageing demographic. If you are looking to address the dearth of good music marketing for the over 50s, then the key, as with any demographic, is representation! Throw out the tired stereotypes of elderly people, and use dynamic, vibrant images of people over 50 engaging with and enjoying the music you are promoting. Photos of gigs with a diverse age range, and other forms of inclusive marketing will go a long way to improving your reach with an older audience.

This can be a tricky thing to get right. In the UK, retailer Marks & Spencer launched a campaign focusing on ‘leading ladies’, a group of musicians and performers from a diverse range of ages. Unfortunately, their airbrushed view of older women turned audiences off, and the campaign bombed. Far more successful was the BBC’s remake of The Beach Boys God Only Knows to launch their BBC Music platform, which featured musicians of all ages, a classic hit, and zero dusty stereotypes to be seen.

Essentially, the main takeaway is to treat an older audience as you would treat anyone under 50 – be aware of their distinct and different music tastes and methods of consumption, don’t lump them all in under one bracket, and appeal to them with inclusive, representative and above all, targeted marketing.