Young musicians are quite literally the future of your business. So it’s important to know how well you’re connecting with them. How do they view your brand? Are you a destination for local young musicians – in-store and online – or do they overlook you?


A recent study of the future of music retail found some interesting things about young musicians and music retailers:


  • Independent stores can beat big retailers by developing personal relationships, especially with younger people.
  • Kids and millennials avoid music retailers that have poor or nonexistent mobile sites.
  • Music store customers, including teenagers and young adults, view themselves as very informed about music. Their information is largely based on internet research.
  • Innovation, social media, and e-commerce solutions are the future of music retail.


Interesting stuff – but how do you incorporate it into your marketing strategy? Let’s take a closer look at how young musicians discover music stores and brands, so it can inform your audience-building efforts.


Music Mentors

First, let’s look at the influence of music mentors. Many young musicians find inspiration in a mentor – a parent, friend, family member, celebrity, or educator who takes special interest in helping people fall in love with music. These music mentors play an important role in shaping how a young musician explores music.


In fact, mentors are so important to music education, many schools, universities, and nonprofit groups have established music mentorship outreach programs. The nonprofit organization Musical Mentors, for example, matches young learners with more experienced players and teachers who can guide their musical voyage.


As a music retail brand, it’s important for you to have a good reputation among these music mentors and offer ways to connect with them. They’re often teachers in the local community – band teachers, orchestra leaders, tutors – who have frequent contact with young learners.


Keep in mind that local bands are also extremely influential for young musicians. When they see someone they know up on stage performing an audience, it can be a deeply emotional experience that sparks their desire to play for the rest of their lives.


The Power of Parents

Never underestimate the influence of parents on young musicians. A family’s income, hobbies, amount of free time, and educational background come together to play a huge role in nurturing children’s interest in music.


A child’s entire sense of musical identity can come from early childhood experiences with their parents. If kids get the sense that hip hop music is preferred in their household, they’re more likely to listen to that music. If they have early exposure to classical music, they’re more open to hearing it for the rest of their lives.


Pew Research found that 54% of American children age 6 to 17 have taken some kind of music-related lessons. But if a parent doesn’t step in to provide early musical guidance, 85% of adults who don’t play musical instruments end up wishing their parents would have supported their desire to play as a child.


Stay connected with parents and grandparents, because they buy instruments and gear for years to come. Even people in their 20s and 30s are still heavily dependent on parents and grandparents for financial support.


Together, all of this means your music store has great opportunity to assist families in building a love of music. If parents feel welcome in your store, or on your website, they’re much more likely to choose you as their child’s go-to music provider.


In-Store Gigs and Events

One great way to attract young people – and their parents – to your store is through special events and shows. Your store could be the first place a young musician ever performs, singing or playing for a small audience while building their confidence.


Do you have space for free gigs? Support the struggling musicians in your community by setting up a unique space for local performers to do free gigs at your store. Bands love it, customers enjoy being serenaded, and the whole experience is easy to share on social media.


You can even offer lessons to nervous performers and encourage them to explore educational materials you sell. Or connect them to local resources that will further their careers. They’ll be forever grateful for your help, especially if they get their big break through you.


Here are a few ideas for special events that draw young people to your store:

  • New band nights
  • Meet-the-instrument seminars
  • Celebrity chats
  • Live-streamed performances
  • Contests and competitions

Promote Your Causes

For young people, a company’s ethical beliefs are an important part of the story. Young adults want their money to go to companies with a clear mission for causes they agree with. If they can’t figure out what you stand for, they’ll go elsewhere.


Does your company have a clear mission that’s well-known in the music community? State it clearly on your website and in your store. Print it on bags. Add it to receipts.


In addition, make sure your mission is genuine by adopting philanthropic causes and making donations. Young people are particularly interested in issues beyond making a profit like local product sourcing, youth education, diversity, volunteerism, social justice, and building healthy communities.


Social Media

Young people use social media to develop personal connections at a time when their social circle is rapidly expanding. The latest Pew Research shows that the vast majority of all Americans use Facebook and YouTube, but people under age 24 are particularly heavy users of YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram.


A Nielsen study found that Instagram users are both more likely to follow bands than other types of celebrities, and are 42% more likely to spend money on music-related purchases. A whopping 75% of Instagram users have made a purchase after clicking on an Instagram advertising post.


This means Instagram should be one of your top priorities, in terms of spreading the word about your brand to younger people. Snapchat and Facebook can supplement your plan too. And now, a word about the social channel that might be most important of all: YouTube.


Video, Video, Video

For 94% of young adults age 18 to 24, YouTube is their primary video channel. Most people under age 24 rarely or never watch network TV, or if they do, they’re not actively watching it – it’s just on in their household, mostly ignored.


Young people tend to view video as an interactive experience, not a passive way of mindlessly absorbing information. Fully 95% of American teenagers own or have access to a smartphone. After watching a video on their phone, they want to share, comment, and become part of the conversation about music.


Make and share tons of videos. When you think about it, lots of things you do are YouTube-worthy: receiving a fresh shipment of brand-new instruments, tuning a high-end guitar, watching a local band frontman try a new microphone.


Many music retailers are having success with demos and 360-degree imagery. These cutting-edge formats welcome people into a friendly, shareable experience, while introducing them to your brand.


Video provides huge opportunity for music retailers. Young musicians are excited about sharing music and having deeper conversations about the industry. If you can reach out to them and speak their language now, you could have thousands of new customers for life.


Young Musicians in Your Marketing Plan

Ready to build new connections with young music fans? Octave Media helps music stores and brands build new audiences. If you need help reaching young musicians, connect with us now to start a new conversation about music and marketing.


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