[Dixielandjazz] AARP - Will it become a thriving Music Marketer to old folks?

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun Nov 26 08:31:35 PST 2006

Interesting. The baby Boomer Market in the USA will become a very large
market segment for music over the next decade or two. So far it has been a
tough segment for many OKOM bands to reach.

However, note AARP's pushing of Tony Bennett concerts. Hmmmmm. Should we be
playing more American Songbook Tunes and less "My Canary Has Circles Under
His Eyes" type music in order to reach this segment?

Should we try and adapt the music of Elton John, James Brown, Beatles, Elvis
and others to the Dixieland format?

Or maybe some Streisand? After all, the boomers pay up to $750 for a ticket
to see her 90 minute show. Nice contrast to $100 for all events at a 3 day
OKOM festival. 

Steve (Show Me The Money) Barbone

And I do mean show me the money. I just turned down a Brazilian appearance
for Barbone Street because they offered only $1000 a man plus all expenses,
door to door for two nights in a concert venue. This from a promoter who
books Pavarotti there for a hell of a lot more. That's too damn far to go
for chump change while the promoter makes a killing.


NY TIMES - By JEFF LEEDS - November 26, 2006

AT 52, Martha Stinson is not quite sure where to turn when it comes to new
music. The local Tower Records in Nashville, where Mrs. Stinson is an owner
of a general contracting company, is going out of business, and she never
did figure out how to load music onto the digital-music player she bought a
couple of years ago.

But she may soon receive an overture from a source not known for its musical
savvy: AARP. She is the kind of consumer that the association is targeting
with a sweeping marketing campaign that it hopes will entice millions of new
members, as the first kids weaned on rock ¹n¹ roll turn gray.

And if Mrs. Stinson is any indication, the group faces an uphill battle. She
has repeatedly thrown out AARP membership solicitations, after all. ³It¹s
going to be tough,² to market to those like her, she said. ³Our generation
has always been a little revolutionary. We feel like we¹re in middle age.
Were out bike riding, running businesses. Our kids are fully grown, and
we¹re kind of footloose and fancy free.²

Older consumers (along with children) represent one of the few reliable
markets in the music business these days, and AARP, the organization for
older Americans, is keen to capitalize on that. On Tuesday the group
announced that for the first time it will sponsor a national concert tour,
by Tony Bennett. And that¹s just a start. Other sponsorships will follow,
and from those, AARP hopes, many new members. With plans in the works for an
alliance with a major retail chain, a Web-based music recommendation service
with Pandora and even a music blog, AARP is looking to graduate from
advocate of the shuffleboard set to the ranks of cultural concierge.

³I hope that we make this thing so relevant and so cool,² said Tena Clark, a
music consultant helping to devise the group¹s marketing strategy. ³I would
hope that one day in the future that my 20-year-old daughter would want to
borrow my AARP card to get into a concert just like she tries to borrow her
sister¹s I.D.²

Consumers like Ms. Stinson may not be the only skeptics however. For
musicians, a deal with AARP is a different matter than a deal with a hip
coffee house or a fashion retailer. No matter how hard the group may try to
change its image ‹ even with the likes of Paul McCartney and Susan Sarandon
on the cover of its magazine ‹ some people still associate it with the
Saturday-night-bingo set. And many musicians may want to keep their
distance, even if it means sacrificing enormous sales.

³The problem is going to be getting the artists to allow, next to their
name, those four feared initials,² said Jonny Podell, the longtime talent
agent who books appearances for artists including the Allman Brothers Band,
Alice Cooper and Peter Gabriel. ³I¹m the agent for half a dozen acts they¹re
going to want,² Mr. Podell said, and ³short of saying, ŒIn addition to your
normal fee we¹re giving you $1 million in cash,¹ I don¹t think they¹d have
one taker.² For the artists, he said, ³It¹s about not admitting they¹re
old.² For his part Mr. Podell, who is 60, said he has been receiving AARP
entreaties for years, and each time ³I drop it like a hot potato.²

Jan Reisen, who along with her partner Peter Kooiker runs the Web site
aginghipsters.com, said she plans to join AARP at some point to take
advantage of financial benefits like discounts on insurance, rental cars and
hotels. But as for recommending albums, ³If I want to know about cool music,
I¹ll ask my 22-year-old.²

Whether AARP succeeds in its new venture, it¹s on to something significant.
Like Madison Avenue it is responding to the marketing challenge posed by the
huge but fickle post-war generation, which for the last 60 years has driven
cultural trends from hula hoops to the S.U.V. Consumers over 50 used to make
marketers¹ eyes glaze over. The assumption was that older buyers¹ spending
habits had solidified and their earning power had peaked. No longer.

Now they control too much disposable income ‹ and live too long ‹ to be
ignored. And nowhere is the shift in attitudes more pronounced than in the
beleaguered pop music business, which desperately needs their money (who do
you think is buying all those $750 Barbra Streisand tickets?) and shares
their aversion to illicit music downloads.

The graying of the music market crept up on America. Even during the ascent
of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys in the late 1990s, when teen
sensations were getting all the attention, consumers 45 and older were the
industry¹s biggest market, according to survey data compiled by the
Recording Industry Association of America. The gap has only widened since
then. Last year fans 45 and older accounted for 25.5 percent of sales, while
older teenagers (a group more prone to music piracy) represented less than
12 percent. So it¹s little wonder that Rod Stewart¹s raspy remakes of pop
standards emerged as a franchise, or that Bob Dylan in September captured
the No. 1 spot on the Billboard chart for the first time in 30 years.

The trick is that conventional marketing techniques don¹t always work with
this group (if they work with anyone anymore). Older listeners don¹t have
much interest in traditional commercial radio, which targets children and
young adults, as do TV channels like VH1 and MTV. And they don¹t spend much
time in traditional record stores.

So labels, publicists and marketers have had to learn new tricks to reach
them. Older acts show up not on MTV¹s ³TRL² (Total Request Live) but on
morning shows like ³Today,² and hawk their wares in infomercials and TV
mail-order ads. Instead of seeking Top 40 radio airplay, they look to
National Public Radio and satellite radio. And to entice more casual
consumers, artists now regularly guarantee exclusive recordings to mass
retailers like Target or high-end chains that cater to grown-ups.

While Starbucks is the most prominent example, other chains are finding
their own niche. James Taylor struck platinum with a CD that was initially
sold only in Hallmark stores. Nordstrom has introduced music to its
offerings, starting with a previously out-of-print Marvin Gaye release and
an exclusive CD from the jazz-tinged singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum.

But perhaps the most surprising results have been online, where the over-50
set accounted for almost 24 percent of the industry¹s Internet sales,
according to NPD Group, a market-research company.

While these consumers didn¹t grow up with the Internet, they have grown
comfortable with using it, at least to order CDs if not download music in
digital form. All of that helps account for why Amazon.com¹s recent Top 10
included Mr. Bennett¹s hit ³Duets: An American Classic² CD, the new
collaboration from J. J. Cale and Eric Clapton, and holiday albums from
James Taylor and Bette Midler, while over at iTunes, the best sellers were
rap hits from the Game, Akon and the pop-punk band Plus-44.

Overall, marketers say, older consumers need to be made comfortable. So
House of Blues, the concert promoter, found that it could boost ticket sales
for older artists by offering pre-show dinners or wine tastings. Sometimes
they added seating in clubs that had required fans to stand.

AARP is heeding such lessons by developing the machinery of modern
tastemaking. That means bulking up its Web site with music offerings,
licensing the Pandora online radio and recommendation service, and
negotiating for shelf space at a major retail chain, which would carry
exclusive versions of certain CDs with discounts to AARP members. And of
course it will advertise at Mr. Bennett¹s concerts and perhaps sign up new
members there too. 

Thanks in part to Target and Starbucks, his ³Duets² album has racked up the
biggest sales of his career (almost 650,000 copies in its first seven
weeks). Mr. Bennett¹s son and manager, Danny Bennett, said the album is
succeeding because it appeals not to older buyers specifically, but to a
wide swatch of the audience. And that multi-generational appeal, the younger
Mr. Bennett said, is what makes his father a perfect ally for AARP. ³It¹s
not a matter of ŒI¹ve fallen and I can¹t get up.¹ It¹s ŒLet¹s stay healthy
so we can rock.¹ Tony¹s the poster child for AARP. He¹s 80 years old. He¹s
young at heart.²

AARP seems intent on a more generation-specific approach, putting its stamp
on albums individually chosen for older consumers.

As for the wary artists, in an era when record labels are cutting back on
marketing expenses, AARP, with about 37 million members, could be a great,
rich friend to have. The message is not lost on the labels. Jay Krugman,
senior vice president for marketing at Columbia Records (which released Mr.
Bennett¹s CD) calls the group ³like the golden chalice.²

Elton John performed at the association¹s ³Life at 50+² convention in
Anaheim, Calif., last month; officials said they have booked Rod Stewart and
Earth, Wind & Fire for next year. James Taylor played two years ago, and the
group¹s magazine has named him as one of the hottest people over 50. (He was
listed under the ³babelicious baldies² category.)

His manager, Gary Borman, acknowledges that for artists who still compete
for radio airplay and television exposure, ³their reputation could be
somewhat tainted² by an AARP affiliation. ³On the other hand, for many, many
of these artists, they¹re no longer playing that radio and record game and
they just want to serve their fans and keep them coming back.²

³Our generation,² he concluded, ³as much as we were once intuitive
discoverers of music, we have lost that intuition. And now we need to be
spoon fed.² 

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list