Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Metallica and changes in its youth market – A case were the consumer becomes older

I’m reading the article in Techdirt and Wired about the debacle with Metallica and its fan base. What struck me is the strong feelings this topic seems to arose among the commentators. There is an overall consensus that the business decision about this Napster thing turned out to be horrible bad and that the band consistently and continually has mishandle the situation with their fan base. It seems that many of the commentators were big fans of the band. Not so anymore. The reason for this is e.g. that Metallic does not create any good music anymore and/or that they have behaved greedy and selfish.

The arguments seems reasonable to me. I do not dispute them. But can there be something more to this passionate discussion? There is one more additional factor, which I can think of. That is the fact that many people of Metallica's market have become older. When you become older your interest changes and you get little different perspectives on things. All this influences your views.

The reason for my reflection is my own experiences. I have never been a hard-core fan of Metallica. However, as young I was a devoted fan of Bob Dylan. But over the years I more and more come to view some of his more "political" texts as to simplified and naive. Today I still have a lot of respect for the "living legend" and what he has achieved. But I do not consume the music so much anymore. I have a much more "sober" view as far as his texts go - detached if you will. Conclusion? I have become older.

Yes, it is different with the case of Metallica. The opinion is that the band has done wrong and should be criticized for that. But is also the factor of "older and wiser" colouring the comments and reactions? I suspect that could be the case. When you are very young, you consume cultural creative offerings as music wholehearted. Many may do this somewhat unreflective and uncritical. Afterwards, this can make some feel a little embarrassed. Especially if the object of the desire turned out to be doing wrong.

My point here is that the case of Metallica highlights an interesting problem of these types of youth cultural markets. The customer base of these markets changes very rapidly. Out of the particular perspective above, due to consumer becoming older. How do producers of creative culture goods such as music cope and adapt to such changes? In the next blog I will deal with this problem.

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