Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Rock Music for 25-54s

While Classic Rock is no doubt a great format and we've seen a whole bunch of winners playing the 'music that's stood the test of time' it's a tough format to keep alive in the long run. The problem is New Music. Yes there are so many great songs that seem to never completely burn out in the library, but it's still a challenge to make Freebird sound exciting enough to hang out for a spot break to hear it for the millionth time.

There are new songs out there that could be played. Just look at the new Springsteen E Street Band reunion. It debut at #1 in sales and hung in there for 2 weeks. The song is a very well done Springsteen tune that in the 80s would have been zipping up the charts. There's a ton more of the vintage artists that have tried to keep putting out new music and there's also a bunch of artists that really are compatible with rock. Why couldn't we play Coldplay if we play U2 or perhaps even taken on John Mayer or Dave Matthews if we played the Eagles? We play old Ozzy all over the place, but little happened with the new Ozzy outside of all the active rock airplay which is really not directed fully at the boomer 40 plus audience that Classic Rock targets.

This same audience is paying thousands to see the classic artists perform in concerts and they are really the last ones buying CDs today. Part of the problem lies in the positioning of Classic Rock. Just like we saw in the name 'oldies,' which meant only songs from the 50s and 60s to the audience - Classic Rock means only songs from the 70s and 80s. It's been sold to the audience that we only deliver those decades and new music, even from these artists, is not in the package. So when we play it the audience rates it low on the scale. We could build a station that blends the classics and new music from compatible artists but it will take a whole new platform. Someone has to try.

A while back we revamped the Fox in Grand Rapids to include currents and still focus on a Classic Rock base. It took a whole revamp of the positioning and imaging, but in the end we were never able to make it fully work. The station gained a lot at first then fell behind as the marketing dried up just as we needed it and internal changes pushed the station off target. Had they stayed the course it was likely it could have been a breakthrough station. It's an approach that needs some research, fresh marketing, and you have to be very careful with finding truly compatible newer music.

If you look at other 25-54 formats like AC or Country they have NO PROBLEM playing current songs and getting compatible new artists in the mix. Why can't rock?

If you want to get some other views visit Lee Abrams' blog here. While Lee is seeing it from the XM perspective the reality is still there. BTW his views are a bit buried in his blog entry this week - you'll have to wander through Lee's airplane tales (always entertaining to those of us who fly and wish we could just take off in our own rig) and a few sales pitches for the XM channels, but it's always a worthwhile read.

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