First released by Kate Bush in 1985, “Running Up That Hill” topped the charts again this summer. While re-releases and remixes of old songs are hardly new news, the interesting point in Kate’s case is that she is testimony to a new young army of curious and influential music consumers.
Alpha Generationeither Gene A as they are more commonly known, they are the generation born since the year 2010. Relatively nascent at the moment, they are projected to reach 2.2 billion in volume globally by 2025, making them the largest generation in history.
It is Generation A, along with some of their younger counterparts from the Generation Zwhich is currently shaking up the music scene in the way they discover, consume and share music.
Qualitative and quantitative research was recently carried out in the UK by the firm the7starsto better understand the attitudes and behaviors of this unique group of early adopters.
The results are illuminating, not only about how young consumers are influencing new patterns of consumption and communication right now, but also early indicators of future consumer behaviors.
A new generation of music fans
Music and technology have always been intertwined and together have helped shape consumer culture and behaviors.
At the center of driving new trends in consumer behavior are the younger generations. Repeatedly, teenagers and younger generations represent the first users to discover and join new platforms until they expand to the mainstream.
Two out of five 7-14 year olds agree they have a broad taste in music and a third agree they like listening to new bands.
They are open to the influence of video games played by the creators they follow on social channels. As a result, we see them taking a mosaic approach to their musical appreciation in the face of the tribal nature displayed by the youth of previous generations.
The study found that among children ages 7 to 14, 31% of fans of the hip hop/rap they also like the reggae29% listen R&B and 24% also listen to world music.
new “for me”
Young audiences are increasingly turning to a plethora of content and cultural references that help them create more complex and varied identities of their own. In return, they are helping to shape new trends that follow and create culture.
This is summed up in the concept of “novelty«. For this young audience, the whole concept of “newness” within music is different from previous generations.
It’s no longer determined by when a track hits the market, but rather as a symptom of a digitally enabled, on-demand music industry distribution model where “new” simply means “new.”new to me«.
Reaching the coveted number one spot on the charts is no small feat. At first glance, it might seem like a typical response to the timing that was featured prominently in season 4 of stranger things from Netflix.
However, while the democratization of digital access through platforms such as Spotify Y TikTok It helps make timed consumption more accessible, it also makes the reality of launching a number one hit even more challenging.
Today’s model is all about scale, with streaming being the dominant consumption model. This means that success can only be achieved on a large scale and indicates how endemic “new to me” behavior is, with Kate Bush herself crediting “all these young people hearing this song for the first time and discovering it.”
access for all
The changing focus on music to become more of a complementary medium, rather than defining identity, also has implications for detection in new environments and accessibility to more audiences.
The gaming landscape is an excellent example of this. Platforms like Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite they’ve thrived on their role as “the new afterschool club” where kids play with their friends while discovering new content, and it’s the perfect place to find Gen Alpha.
With 54% of active players on Roblox under the age of 13 (Statista), there is a captive audience, which is also receptive to discovering new content, as seen in the 72% of Minecraft users agreeing to use social spaces on line to interact with brands. (GWI).
In Robloxgroup chat functionality allows for a seamless shared experience, which has been harnessed by artists such as Lil Nas Xwhose live concert in December 2020 was viewed 33 million times.
Looking to the future
When we consider the disproportionate influence of young audiences on music, and in turn music’s influence on popular culture in general, it becomes clear why it’s important to keep an eye on what happens next.
Today’s teens are tomorrow’s influential cultural touchstone and rarely revert to previous generational behaviors in terms of their preferences and consumption habits.
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How does the “Alpha Generation” consume music? – Music Industry