“Those Oldies but Goodies Remind Me of You” | radioinfo

“Those Oldies but Goodies Remind Me of You”

Sunday 12 July, 2020

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What is an oldie? 

This is one of the most commonly recurring questions facing music radio programmers. It is so easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking that the songs we once considered to be recent have become “oldies.” Time has a habit of fooling us. We are often unconscious of the passing of weeks, months and years. Could it really be 2020? Are we really 20 years into the 21st century? The older we become, the easier it is to think that things that happened 10 or 20 years ago were recent events. 

Oldies are relative to one’s age and, in turn, one’s generation. An interesting phenomenon occurs when you ask someone when was the time in their life that the best music was created. The majority of people will tell you that it was the music that came out when they were between 15 and 25 years old. The songs that they remember from those years are usually the ones that they cherish the most. They are the songs that they associate with pivotal events of that era. 

One of the reasons that songs heard between the ages of 15 to 25 years have such a powerful impact on people may be related to the fact that these years are critically important to one’s development intellectually, emotionally and socially. Few people are the same at 25 as they were at 15. 

If your listeners say that they want to hear a balance of old and new songs, a simple formula can help to determine what they mean by “old” songs. If your target listener is 30 years old, oldies are songs up to 10 years ago. If the target listener is 40 years old, oldies are songs up to 20 years ago. For a 40 year old in the year 2020, an oldie is anything prior to the year 2000. In brief, oldies are songs that were popular around the time that a person reached the age of 20, + or – 5 years. 

This explains why for 20 year old listeners, there are virtually no oldies. Their music tastes are almost completely contemporary. They may know of songs from the past but they have little passion for them. 

If the median age of your listener is 40 years old, songs from the 80’s are too old because your 40 year old listener was 0-10 years old during the 80’s. Your 40 year old listener is much more likely to think of songs from the 90’s as “real oldies.” 

So, the next time you promote your station as playing the best of old and new music, consider how that message is being interpreted by your target listener. 

Andy Beaubien, BPR 


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Anthony The Koala
13 July 2020 - 12:01pm
I wish to make two remarks.

First, "...if the median age of your listener is 40 years old, songs from the 80’s are too old because your 40 year old listener was 0-10 years old during the 80’s..." My challenge to that is that there may not be a relation to age and the type of music enjoyed by a particular age-group. If someone listens to ABC-FM or 2MBS-fm, playing Chopin or Mozart, does not mean that the listener is 200 years old! Then there are thirty-somethings that like listening to the Beatles, David Bowie or the Rolling Stones. You cannot assume that listeners to that music should be 50+.

Second, why do some formats concentrate on the "hits and memories"? A person may not remember that "Ruby Tuesday" but may remember "Help!" was a hit. If the repertoire is focussed on "hits" it becomes high-rotation, boring and predictable. Why not focus on the artists of that time. For example if "hits and memories" station plays only Fleeetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" and "Dreams" from the 'Rumours' album, why not expand that to "Songbird", or even "My Dream" from the Mac's album "Then Play On".

In my opinion, while the music of the "Hits and Memories"/"Golden Oldies"/"Classic Hits" and its variations play fine music, there is a lot of overlap. Playing only the "hits" tends to forget the other songs by other artists. Nothing wrong with the music, but the repertoire/playlist is predictable and bland. I suggest that radio stations reserve some free time to test and expand the repertoire and measure the listener's response.

For some listeners they're off listening to Spotify or other streaming/subscription service.

For me I rarely listen to music radio. I don't subscribe to iTunes/Apple Music nor Spotify. I have a collection of CDs and Vinyls which I convert to the wav format, denoise, depop and equalise (even CDs have noise) and lawfully store as high-quality mp3 backups under s109A of the Copyright Act (Cth).The repertoire is a mix of music from many eras including 1990s dance. I press "shuffle play". It is rare that I listen to music radio stations for any music inspiration.

Thank you,
Anthony of wider-thinking Belfield

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