Should we care?
Few American radio stations actually target teens today.
Oh, they’ll take them if they get them, it’s just that the money demos are 18-49, not 13-19.
And since we can’t make the most money with teens, we don’t really spend time thinking about how they use radio, or even if they’re as into music as teens a generation ago.
We certainly don’t hire talent designed to be teen magnets on our stations.
We think teens aren’t listening as much. We think they must love Pandora and Spotify. We think they find new music on YouTube…
but is any of that proven in empirical studies and then replicated for comfirmation?
Plus, the very testing of teens in one-on-one interviews or focus groups automatically skews the results, a bit like how studying particles in quantum mechanics changes them instantly, nullifying our results.
The truth is, according to The Atlantic, no one really knows how teens find and listen to music. Here’s one study conducted by Piper Jaffray, which is an investment bank, for goodness sake which purports to show what teens use most when they want to hear music:
I think we should care about teens. I think we should worry about producing and playing the music they love. I think we should find and hire talent that they want to hear when they’re using radio — which may no longer be at night, as it was for decades.
Nights belong to iPads and smartphones, texting and watching — not listening to radio, because none of them have a radio in their bedrooms.
Anecdotally, just watching teens, at malls and sporting events and in the homes of friends who parent teens, I never see them listening to anything I can discern. I see them, head down, even within a group of friends, texting or interacting with their smart phones.
Streaming music on a smart phone isn’t the best experience, at least outside of South Korea, so if I owned thousands or even hundreds of radio stations, I’d do my best to make one in every market superserve teens.
How about you? Is this a lost cause?