Tag Archives: The Rolling Stones

What I Learned at a Tom Jones Concert

A few weekends ago, Sue & I traveled to Wolf Trap to attend a Tom Jones concert. Tom is 82 years old and his concert was SOLD OUT. Ticket prices for some of the best seats went for over a thousand dollars apiece. So, what was the make-up of the audience that evening? People like us, senior citizens.

America’s Age Tipping Point

Today’s 65-plus demographic in America has increased to 17% of the population, or about 56 million people. Back in 1960, this age group only made up about 9% of Americans.

While the over 65 age group is comprised of 55% women, when you get to those 85 years and older, the percentage of women increases to nearly 66%.

In just 8 more years, 2030, every Baby Boomer will be over the age of 65, and in just four years after that, people over the age of 65 will outnumber children for the first time in the history of the United States.

Music of YOUR Life

Back in the early 1980s, I worked with Al Ham to put his Music of YOUR Life format on a radio station in Western Massachusetts. The format was targeting senior citizens and we played the music of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, The Mills Brothers, Rosemary Clooney, and Frank Sinatra. The format was perfect for an AM radio station, as the audience we were targeting grew up with AM radio and these artists.

I remember joking that one day, The Rolling Stones would be played on a Music of YOUR Life radio station.

Well, it’s happened. Radio stations like WMEX-LP 105.9FM are thriving by playing the artists of the Baby Boomers, and The Rolling Stones fit right in; Mick Jagger is 79, Keith Richards is 78 and Ronnie Wood is 75. Their average age is 77.

117th Congress

The current Congress of the United States is the oldest, on average, of any Congress in two decades, with half of the members being over 65 years old.

Turning 70

Next month, I will be turning 70. The 50th high school reunion that was to have taken place in 2020, was delayed two years and when Sue and I get together with our fellow classmates, it will be for the Class of 70 Turns 70 reunion.

How Has 70 Years Changed Me?

First, let me tell you that the 18 year old me and the 70 year old me are really not all that different. The younger me has merely become part of the many layers of the person I’ve grown into today, with one caveat: the music that I loved in my youth, is the music I love most today.

This is why it puzzles me that it’s so hard to find my music on today’s AM/FM radio.

We have more radio signals broadcasting into the ether in America, than at any time in our history. Yet, the variety of programming is so very narrow.

It’s Not Unusual

Which brings me back to Tom Jones. When the audience knows the words to all of his hit songs and sings along with him, why is it so hard to hear any of his songs on today’s commercial radio stations? The fact that Tom Jones continues to perform to SOLD OUT audiences should be a wake-up call to radio broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies.

America’s citizens aren’t getting any younger. By 2060, the United States Census Bureau says 1 out of every 4 Americans will be 65 or older.

  • The Motely Fool*, on February 28, 2022, says that as of 2019, the median net worth of Americans under 35 years old was $14,000, while the median net worth of Americans aged 65 to 74 was $266,070. In other words, Americans at retirement age had a median wealth 19 times that of those in the under 35 age group.

Venues like Wolf Trap understand this and know that if they want to stay in business, they need to cater to people who have the money to spend on live entertainment.

Why should radio broadcasters think it’s any different for them?

*The Motley Fool is a private financial and investing advice company based in Alexandria, Virginia.

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Millennials vs. Baby Boomers

31The radio world was all a buzz this week when it was announced that Millennials now out-number Baby Boomers.

Well la-te-da.

Let me tell you why that doesn’t really matter.

William Francis Sutton’s Advice to Radio Operators & Advertisers

Sutton was famous for making money, lots of money. Actually, he didn’t really make money as much as he stole money. Sutton stole an estimated $2 Million over his forty year career. And while he denies he originated it, Sutton’s Law states that when diagnosing, one should first consider the obvious. So when Willie Sutton was asked by a reporter why he robbed banks all his life, he replied “because that’s where the money is.”

Boomers Are Where the Money Is

When the Boomers were growing up, rates of productivity and hourly compensation rose in lock-step. Productivity rose 96.7% and hourly compensation rose 91.3%. That changed in 1973. While productivity continued its upward slope, compensation flat-lined; productivity was rising around 75% in the period of 1973 to 2013, wages went up a mere 9%.

Worse, today a college education not only doesn’t guarantee increased earnings, it is more like an economic boat anchor that saddles a Millennial with student loan debt of tens of thousands of dollars as they begin to enter the workforce. Paul Campos wrote in the New York Times that “if over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition; the average car would cost more than $80,000.”

Unlike us Baby Boomers, Millennials have come of age at the very moment when economic opportunities are few and far between.

Trading Places in Income

Trading places: The income of younger working-aged families was falling long before the Great Recession and has now been surpassed by the rising incomes of families well into retirement age. (Median Income for Younger and Older Families in Inflation- Adjusted Dollars)

 

Stagnant Income

The average middle-class family today makes the same household income as it did thirty-six years ago. The problem is that today’s heads of household weren’t even born yet. We’re talking about different people. So the advantage of a middle-class family today over one three decades ago has evaporated. That’s if they can even be considered “middle-class” as 61% of Americans considered “middle-class” in 1971 comprise less than 50% of those families today.

Vastly Different Economic Trajectories

In the more recent economic history of America, each new generation would far surpass that of their parents’ in material standard of living. Millennials, and Generation X’ers who came before them, “are falling farther and farther behind their parents’ generation in most measures of economic well-being.” This represents a change being experienced by today’s living generations that is unprecedented in America’s history.

Millennials Number 75.4 Million vs. Baby Boomers at 74.9 Million

Here’s why radio and advertisers shouldn’t be freaking out over the headline that Millennials now out-number Baby Boomers. There may be more of them, but when it comes to discretionary income – the money that buys stuff – Boomers are still your “bank.” Don’t take your eye off the ball.

If Willie Sutton were operating a media company or an advertising agency, he’d be focused on putting his marketing investment where the best R.O.I. (Return On Investment) is, radio and its #1 reach that delivers 93% of Americans every week. It’s the traditional mass media that Boomers grew up with and still use in great numbers. Radio still delivers.

The “Music of YOUR Life” is Now The Rolling Stones

Back in the 1980s, I managed one of the first Al Ham “Music of YOUR Life” radio stations. Next to Rush Limbaugh, this big band based music format was one of two formats that were attracting people back to AM radio. I remember joking that one day, when we Boomers were their age, the music of our life would replace the sounds of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller.

That day is here!

And there’s money to be made.

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