Since the early 1980s, classic rock — spanning the album-rock eras between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s — has dominated the radio airwaves. Now, with its mix of longtime mainstays like Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, ‘80s rockers like Journey and U2, and even grunge superstars such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the classic rock format has never been more popular.
However, it might surprise you to learn that classic rock fans are not only diverse, but they are also influential decision makers in their household. Here are five facts that may make you consider marketing to this important demographic group for your next advertising campaign.
5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Classic Rock Listeners
1. They Are Affluent
Classic rock listeners may have grown up listening to the Grateful Dead or Metallica, but their jobs as adults are far from their hippie or headbanging roots. Rather, they have gone on to become leaders in their fields (for example, Apple founder Steve Jobs was a noted Bob Dylan fan).
In fact, Eventbrite shows that high-income earners (those making more than $90,000 per year) predominantly prefer going to rock concerts over blues, jazz, classical, and opera. Furthermore, a 2015 study by the Canadian Review of Sociology found that rock music is now classified as “highbrow” and preferred by those with incomes above $40,000. In other words, classic rock appeals to an increasingly affluent demographic—making it ideal for advertisers.
2. They Are Young(er)
When classic rock radio was in its infancy, it appealed directly to Baby Boomers eager to hear the music from their formative years. However, according to FiveThirtyEight, classic rock now extends far beyond Boomers. In fact, the number of younger fans jumped 50% in the last three years alone.
And they’re only getting younger: Nielsen ranks classic rock as the ninth most listened-to format by millennials, which the New York Daily News attributes new technology, such as streaming audio, and cultural influencers, such as popular movie soundtracks. Marketers can take this to heart and push for more social media and digital integration with their radio advertising campaigns.
3. They Are Nostalgic
While younger fans are tuning in, the primary feeder for classic rock stations is the coveted 35-52 demographic. These Gen-Xers, who make up the majority of classic rock’s listeners, want to hear the music one which they grew up, and the more classic rock radio plays ‘80s and ‘90s bands, the more they tune in. Since the shift towards incorporating ‘80s and ‘90s music has already begun on classic rock stations, it makes now the perfect time for advertisers to explore options in the format.
4. They Are Not Just Men
While the majority of the rockers heard on classic rock tunes may be largely thought of to be male, female fans still tune in loyally. For example, Cox Media Group’s The Eagle has a weekly make up of 43% women. That comes out to 450,000 women listeners in a major market location. Furthermore, a review by Music Machinery about the difference in male and female listening shows that while males do prefer harder classic rock bands and songs, women are more loyal to their favorite artists and tend to be more nostalgic in their listening. Familiar brands and products will appeal when trying to speak to female fans.
5. They Are Family-Friendly
In the 1950s and ‘60s, rock ‘n’ roll was enemy #1 in many households. But today, a new generation of parents looking to turn their children on to great music look for radio stations that feature artists such as the Beatles, Bob Marley, or even AC/DC. Psychology Todayattributes the increase in family listening of classic rock to several factors: classic rock music features more talent than today, parents are more hands on in what they teach and share, and certain generations are “culturally enshrined.” Advertisers should not be afraid to go “family friendly” with their advertising as it has a good chance of reaching a multigenerational group of listeners.
Classic Rock for All
From the wealthy to the millennials and the parents in the minivan, classic rock music has made its mark on music listening. With its diverse group of fans ranging in almost every age and demographic, classic rock listeners are a prime target for advertisers looking to reach a wide variety of audiences.