Teenager Matthew Robson of Morgan Stanley wrote a report* that has the blogosphere buzzing. I thought I'd respond to his points from the viewpoint of a parent of three teens/post-teens (18 to 22 year olds):
- Teens don’t want to pay for music, and certainly not CDs. They’ll either download it illegally or going on streaming sites to listen to what they want, when they want.
The issue is not paying; the issue is access. When they hear of a song they like (through friends, in a movie, or a music-conscious tv show like The OC), they want a copy now.
They will buy CDs, if they feel the disc provides good value. But music stores are shutting down or cutting back on selection, eliminating sales.
Another flaw in the system is that record companies have ensured that music is now everywhere; it no longer is the rare commodity it was 50-100 years ago. The lack of scarcity makes the value of each song < $0.01.
As for music sharing, teens see no difference between hearing songs on radio for free, sharing an iPod (one earbud each for two people), sharing by copying, or downloading. In fact, teens see free downloading as wise, since it saves them money -- no different than getting 80% off a new piece of clothing.
Here in Canada, downloading is legal (only uploading is illegal).
- Radio is dead to teenagers.
Mine will listen to radio in the car, but will frantically switch between stations to hear songs they like. If stations play more than one song they don't like, the radio goes off.
- Teens hates intrusive advertising.
- Teens spend money going to the movie theatre because it’s a social activity.
Movie theatres seem to have replaced other forms of location entertainment: rock concerts are too expensive, symphony concerts too boring, theater plays to stuffy, museums too rare, local street festivals too corny...
- Print media is irrelevant to them.
Not at all. My son gets car magazines; my girls get girl magazines. They will scan the front page of our local paper.
- Teens don’t use Twitter because no one is reading their tweets.
Mine don't use Twitter, because it makes no sense to them. My youngest has several times asked how it works; that "anyone" can read her Tweets is meaningless to them.
- Teens use Facebook.
Mine will sit on the couch with friends, and use Facebook to text message the person sitting next to them. Heck, my daughter has done that with me.
Facebook makes sense, because it defines their group of friends, the people to whom they need to show off. "Look at the clever words I wrote." "Look at my latest photos of myself."
- Teens don’t watch live TV anymore, preferring to watch content online.
Almost true. My teens want to watch shows at times that suit them, not at times that suit networks. They still watch live TV of special shows (Olympics) or when it is a shared family experience, such as The Office.
- Sony Ericsson phones are seen as being high-end.
True. Both my son and one daughter have this brand. My son is on his 3rd one. He doesn't understand why everyone doesn't have one. OTOH, I think he likes being "the only one" with a Sony Ericsson, making him stand out.
- Well-to-do teens listen to music on the iPod, less well-off teens use their cellphone.
I disagree. Snobby teens listen to iPods; all others use anything but an iPod. Go into an electronics store, and watch the battle between mom (wants to pay for the "jsut as good" cheaper model) and the daughter (wants the overpriced white or pink iPod).
My youngest uses an iPod; she cares about looks. My middle one cares about the music, not the playback device; she uses a gray SanDisk. My oldest cares about the convenience factor (Sony Ericsson cell phone with music player, hi-res camera, Internet browser -- all in one). Me, I care about small size and user interface, so I use a Sony Walkman MP3 player.
What Else Teens Want
This list is necessarily media oriented. What gets left out is what teens really want:
Their parents. Both of them. Together.
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*) This version of the list from Nicholas Deleon at CrunchGear.