It turns out that 94% of the top touring artists are over the age of 40. Not only that, 40% are over the age of 60!
The findings raise some interesting questions for both the music business and radio.
Why are successful tours so old? Is it that only boomers can afford today’s ticket prices, or is there something more fundamental at work?
It takes an investment of something like $1 million to break a new act. Given the poor health of the recording industry, the labels are backing fewer new acts.
That’s good news for adult formats, but bad news for young formats.
Formats like CHR and Alternative need a steady stream of new product. And the more product coming out, the pickier music directors can be.
There’s a direct relationship between the quality of product and the success of a format. The stronger the music, the more listeners are drawn to a format.
(This is true for all formats, but adult formats have larger libraries that soften the impact when new hits become scarce.)
Formats that rely on a high proportion of new music have fewer options. When the quality of new music declines, the choice is between playing weaker new product, or playing a higher proportion of older product.
Either solution has a negative impact.Weaker product drives listeners off. Playing older music weakens the station's position.
One frequent criticism of broadcast radio is that it has abandoned young listeners. This isn’t really true.
The absence of young superstars has created a dilemma for potential new music stations. Superstars mold homogenous music tastes, a condition ideal for broadcast radio formats.
Today’s contemporary music is characterized by a tremendous number of niches that each attract small proportions of listeners. There is no homogeneous body of music that large proportions of listeners want to listen to, just the occasional surprise.
This impacts the concert business because there are fewer acts that can fill large venues. This impacts the radio business because it is more difficult to find a cohesive body of music that a station can play.
All this plays into Internet radio’s strengths. Specialized streams make more sense when the hits aren’t really hits. Today an artist can have a top 10 album and sell fewer than 30,000 units.
All these factors add up to a challenge for radio stations targeting younger listeners.
It also raises the specter of Lady Gaga going strong into her 60s. That will be something.