Younger Music Fans Demand Constant Access

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MTV report on young music fans

MTV’s report shows younger music fans expect free music and a seat at your breakfast table

A few weeks ago I was at The Trocadero, my favorite venue in Philadelphia, waiting for The Dandy Warhols to take the stage. Turns out, I was at The Troc seeing the Dandys exactly ten years before, and now I was looking around the place thinking, "Man, this crowd is aging out. There aren’t a lot of younger music fans in the audience."

There were some, to be sure, but I was surprised not to be feeling like the old guy in the room. And the Dandys are pretty savvy. Their new album is great, their website is cool, they serve as tastemakers for movies, books, and music… What do young music fans want these days?

Well, the answer comes to us by way of MTV Research, which released a report titled "Music to the M Power" that explains how Millennials (born 1980-2000) expect "zero distance" from the artists they like, an effect reportedly caused by social media.

"Zero distance?" you say. "What is that?"

Younger music fans crave "constant access" to artists, want an artist to act like a friend, and expect an artist to be constantly accessible via social media. As a matter of fact, Millennials have different expectations from different social media. Facebook is the "official outlet" for tour updates and information, Twitter is good for day-to-day highlights of life and interactions with celebrities, Instagram is like "seeing the world through [the artist’s] eyes," and Tumblr gives an "intimate glimpse into an artist’s psyche/spirit."

But don’t expect to sell your music to this group. Only 28% of the people surveyed had bought music within the past month, and 68% only pay for music "out of respect to the artist because they believe music should be free." Of course, 81% are more likely to buy your music if they feel close to you. Grant them constant access and you might make a sale.

The report also shows Millennials have a penchant for diversity, as the shuffle generation’s playlists include wildly varying genres and eras spanning Etta James to One Direction.

I know, things have changed, get over it. But still, I remember sitting in my room as a kid, listening to a vinyl record, just staring at the album cover and liner notes, extracting every possible ounce of meaning from the art the artist had provided. I never wanted to know what they did during the day. Boy is that over, huh? Your new single might make a playlist, but your tweet about coffee with JLo is really where it’s at. Social media may beat the days of the snail mail flyer for gig alerts, but don’t expect a whole lot of down time — or music sales.

Oh, but it’s now cool to sell out. Kids these days understand you have to make your money somehow.

STUDY: MTV’s ‘Music to the M Power’

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11 thoughts on “Younger Music Fans Demand Constant Access

  1. This is an overgeneralization. I have no interest in the details of artist’s personal life or what they had for breakfast; I want to know about their work, their art, their vision, artistic philosophy, etc.

    Let artists have some privacy and dignity.

  2. I’ve been stunned by the disregard fans have for the bands they claim to love. Most of the working bands out there are having a hard time justifying their existence. Venue owners pay up and coming bands next to nothing, and fans don’t want to pay for bands’ music and buy very little in the way of other merchandise. The love of making music can only take you so far when it’s literally becoming prohibitive financially. My daughter loves to tell me that bands who love to make music will keep making music whether they make any money or not. And I keep pointing out to her that while that may be true, the reality is that if bands can’t make a living from their music they’ll have to find other ways to support themselves (meaning regular jobs that will limit their ability to make music). Point being, those bands might keep making music, but my daughter will likely never hear them or hear of them because those bands never got any farther than local music scenes or their own basements. I’ve never been able to process how young people think stealing a band’s music and scoffing at the idea of paying them anything is still seen as supporting their favorite bands. The cognitive dissonance in that is just stunning.

  3. i say it fine to give one or two songs away for free but all the music. i was out at a show not long ago . i watch as fans try to talk the band down on the price of their merchandise that was for sale. i was speechless and in shock. the band only wanted 10 dollars for a shirt and thats a great deal to start with. this kind of stuff needs to stop.
    maybe next time they can reword the question they ask the younger fans. ask them if they had 20,000 dollars of more invested in a car or something along those lines. would they give parts of it away for free peice by peice.
    when they say no then ask, why do they expect band with he same amount invested to give it away piece by piece for free.

  4. So, what’s the message? “Don’t feel comfortable with folks all up in your s**t? Then do something else with your life.”
    Is that it? This seems like advice for aspiring pop stars and boy bands. An artist needs to have a relationship with their fans but this is ridiculous.

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