Today’s NYTimes has an article that suggests the record industry is latching onto aging customers, whose buying habits were defined in the pre-Napster era. Boomers Buoy the Struggling Record Industry [pdf] is full of record industry quotes, but the example at the opening of the article shows that the real winner in this kind of market repositioning will be the retail outlets. Of course, most industries have already learned that association with the older generation is not a formula for success, but I guess the record companies have decided to make their own mistakes — they certainly have a creditable record of doing so up to this point!
The growing success of albums by older artists — and of singers like Norah Jones, who appeal to less cutting-edge tastes — offers some solace to an industry mired in a three-year sales slump. Record executives are desperate for any hopeful sign, even if it comes from people with more wrinkles than tattoos.
The record labels have placed most of the blame for the decline on the file-sharing networks on the Internet, and have sued or threatened to sue hundreds of people for illegally distributing free music online.
But the older audience, typically more affluent consumers who grew up buying their music on vinyl LP’s, seldom uses the free file-sharing sites, according to Forrester Research. And because they account for a growing segment of the record-buying public, labels are increasingly tailoring their releases and their marketing, particularly on television, to reach them.