Finding the Grownup Audience

Ballroom Dancing: SXSW panels

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Finding the Grownup Audience

Austin Convention Center, Thursday, March 18 Contrary to what MTV might lead you to believe, music isn't just for hard-drinking spring breakers and mall rats sporting belly-button jewelry. Fully 60% of CD sales comes from the wallets of geezers aged 30 and up. How then, queried Texas Monthly Editor Evan Smith, do you corral a fractured audience with sundry musical tastes? Nic Harcourt, music director at L.A.'s KCRW, stated that he makes his programming decisions based on instinct; his instincts usually prove to be dead-on, Harcourt having launched many a career via his show, Morning Becomes Eclectic. Alan Light, editor of Tracks, a music magazine for the more mature music fan, concurred, saying, "It's a taste issue rather than a decision based on marketing data. We deal with a hugely underserved audience, so there's a lot of potential there, but there's not one button you can push to reach them. You can't just pop something on MTV and say, 'There, I've reached my audience.'" But there are outlets to reach those busy grownups. Matt Hanks, publicity director at Shore Fire Media and "go-to guy" for Norah Jones, cites the huge cultural influence of NPR and respected dailies like The New York Times, as they're less beholden to trends than to the tastes of their critics. "When NPR or the Times does a feature on an artist, you can watch their sales rank rise almost immediately on Amazon.com," he claimed. The first step? Determining what, exactly, a "grownup" is.

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