Concert Production: Do You Pick Your Audience or Do They Pick You?

  • Robert M. Brecht, PhD.
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Anyone involved in concert production should be interested in the music genres favored by Americans. The results of a new survey released by CBS News/YouGov at the beginning of April validates once again America’s taste in music and how they listen to it. It’s one of a number of such surveys over the years that describes the changing music tastes of various demographic groups in the U.S. This particular poll asked over 1,600 people, 18 years of age and older, what their favorite music genre was. It provided 7 options for their responses.

top genres of musicFor all respondents, rock music was the favorite choice of 32 percent of adult Americans. Rock was followed by popular (pop) music with 15 percent choosing this genre. Hip hop or rap was chosen by 14 percent, country/western by 12 percent, Christian and gospel music by 10 percent, R&B or soul by 7 percent, classical by 6 percent and jazz by 4 percent.

It confirms the evolution of music tastes especially among young adults (18 to 28).  It also confirms the distinct demographic preferences among various groups for particular music genres. This survey also demonstrates that looking at the overall results distorts the true picture of what music genre is most popular.  The results listed above showing the overall results are less meaningful without segmenting the survey’s audience by demographics and psychographics. More about that in a minute.

Getting back to my initial question. The music genre you select for a live entertainment event will largely determine the audience who attends, given everything else is equal. Or the audience you want to attend will come because of the music genre you book for your event. Either way the music genre you select for your concert will play a large role in self-selecting the audience that will attend.

Put another way; will your marketing efforts be driven by the audience you want or by the music genre performing at your event?

Let’s use the CBS News/YouGov survey to discuss what I mean. There are many other surveys taken over the years that might provide additional insight for those seeking more information.

best genres of musicThe overall results show the rock music genre as by far the most popular choice as the favorite type of music by Americans. But when we review the demographic subgroups, we find that the genre of rock music is the overall favorite of all white Americans in the survey. That’s for all ages of white respondents.

top music genresCompare those results with those of black American respondents. The rock music genre ranks 5th on their list of favorite music genres. Hip Hop/Rap and R&B/Soul are far away their favorite music genres. If you look at the young adult subgroup (age 18-29) you also see that Hip Hop/Rap is the favorite genre of this group as well, with rock ranking third as their choice for favorite music genre.

best music genresAdding the Psychographics to the Demographics When Doing Concert Production

Psychographic segmentation is a type of market segmentation that takes into consideration psychological traits when categorizing consumer groups. Examples of such traits include lifestyle, personality, social status, beliefs, perceptions, and interests to name a few. A good introduction to psychographic segmentation can be found here at instapage.com.

For instance, If I’m a concert producer, I would want the results cross-tabbed by the 30% of the respondents who indicated that they would probably attend a concert in the next few months. What I mean by that is that I would like to see the results of the subgroup that indicated that they would probably attend a concert in the next few months. After all, it’s the people that attend live concerts that I’m interested in targeting. Not people who just sit at home or work and stream the genre they like.

This 30 percent of respondents might be the most important group to me as a someone involved in concert production. That is if there are enough respondents in that subgroup to be statistically significant. Often by the time you break results down by subgroup, the numbers are too small to draw any conclusions.  In the case of the CBS News/YouGov poll, the margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 points for the subgroups they break out.

Now the answer to my riddle. If I produce a rock concert, who should I market to if I want to sell out the venue? Or if my target market is your adults, what type of music genre should headline my event?

My point is that the music genre you select will determine your audience or vice versa. Click here to see the CBS/YouGov Survey results.

Related Post:

Festival Production: Leveraging the Fan Experience

About the Author

Robert M. Brecht, PhD.

Doctor Bob has been in the marketing and production side of television and music for over three decades. He, Mike and Glenda form a formidable team in helping artists and venues put on the best events possible.

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