How older music fans can get into streaming

[Younger generations (i.e. people under 30) are all over the convenience of streaming music services. But what if you’re from an age where ownership (CDs, vinyl) was paramount? How can these demos learn to embrace streaming? Contributor Jess Walter takes a look. – AC]

How Can Streaming Services Entice Older Adults?

Almost two in every three listeners under 25 use Spotify to listen to music, according to Jackdaw Research, yet statistics are markedly different for older listeners. Around 37% of people over 35 listen to Spotify, while a whopping 62% prefer the radio. YouTube (47%) and CDs (39%) are also faring better than streaming services. The numbers suggest that greater efforts need to be made to entice older listeners to the benefits of streamed music.

What Are Impediments To Streaming For Older Listeners?

For adults below Generation Z, who have grown up visiting record or CD shops, the sensation of being able to physically sort through and select music can be difficult to beat. Others feel ‘lost’ with issues such as how to record streamed songs for subsequent listening in their car or on the train. Even aspects that can come as second nature to millennials – such as creating playlists or using algorithm-driven playlists like Discover Weekly – can seem difficult since for listeners in their 50s and 60s. Moreover, there can be a lack of opportunity to discover and learn how to use these features. The Jackdaw survey, mentioned above, also found that the popularity of YouTube is standing in the way of older listeners’ interest in streaming. As there are so many songs available for free on YouTube music channels, older listeners prefer to simply search for their favorites, consistently finding what they need.

How Can Streaming Make Life Easier For This Age Group?

Streaming enables user to take their music ‘on the go’. Thus, over-35s who are having to either buy CDs or watch videos online can enjoy their favorite tunes while driving or commuting to work. Streaming also enables them to access material that is not available on YouTube. Many senior owners who are alone enjoy the company of pets, yet music that appeals to pets can be  hard to find on the radio. Streaming channels are often more specific, appealing to seniors regardless of their hobbies. Their chosen playlists can then be played on a device like Alexa, which boasts its own in-house streaming services and can also be hooked up to other services. Modern homes allow for an optimal listening experience via intelligent sound systems that connect up to different rooms, create playlists, and enable users to wake up to their favorite tunes. With streaming, it’s a case of never going back after experiencing its benefits, but may older listeners have yet to take the leap.

What Strategies Can Streaming Services Take To Amend The Age Gap Issues?

Only one in five people aged over 35 pay for music via streaming services (compared to 57% of Gen-Z’ers). Streaming services are therefore losing out on a big market that needs specific targeting. Education is one thing; streaming services should consider tutorials and other tech awareness classes specifically aimed at those older than 35. Hypebot’s Heather Willensky notes that in order to attract older listeners, streaming services will have to feature new, unreleased material from catalogued artists. She notes that series such as Bob Dylan’s bootleg recordings (comprising rare and live footage) were so successful for this very reason: you simply cannot find them elsewhere. By focusing on cult artists and new material, streaming services can mark themselves as clear leaders in terms of variety and novelty – qualities that may just make older listeners spend a buck on music.

Research indicates that while younger listeners are happy to spend on streaming services, older ones are still more reticent to spend on music they can easily find online on sites like YouTube. A divide in technology awareness is another obstacle streaming services should take seriously. By marketing educational material to older listeners and offering unique musical recordings that they will need to pay to access, streaming companies can go a long way towards changing current views on their perceived value among older age groups.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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