This article examines music consumption amongst young people, and uses the concept of “tribe” to define consumer centric profiles and characterize them over how music is consumed, market awareness, technological knowledge and the use of music in the construction and maintenance of the personal identity.
Six consumer profiles were identified and characterized using qualitative methods based on focus groups interviews. Some profiles tend to comply with the industry’s rules and traditions, while the others put an active resistance to the normal modes of licit market exchange of music.
The industry compliant faction is comprised by the Conventionalists and the Loyalists profiles, which share as main similarity usually legal consumption of music. The Conventionalists have limited music knowledge, depending on the music charts, radio and friends recommendation, being highly influenced and ultimately concerned with developing a music taste that is socially acceptable among peers. The legal consumption is mostly related to their lack of technical knowledge. The Loyalists have deep affection and loyalty towards artists, which is demonstrated through the legal acquisition of music and ownership of physical formats. They use music to define their identity and frequently consider themselves to be opinion leaders in their peer groups. A third profile also fits in this faction, the Experience Seekers, although not averse to illegal acquisition due to budget reasons. Their desire for memorabilia, nostalgia, and for consumption supports the importance of physical ownership.
Within the industry resistant faction, lie the Preachers, the Revolutionists and the Techys. The Preachers, which are non-mainstream and perceive the record industry as commercial, privilege their spending on smaller, obscure, ‘more deserving’ artists. They consume music either legally or illegally, so they can have access to an infinite selection of music, which is in turn used as social capital. They are often highly opinionated, and consider themselves influential in discovering new music. Like the Preachers, Revolutionists are into non-mainstream music, are overtly opinionated, and may support legitimately smaller artists. They possess a strong anti-market perspective, which leads a heavy use of illegal downloads and are considered movers in the music market due to their strong beliefs. Techys possess advanced knowledge either about music software, hardware and the music industry, and value sound quality and the methods for listening. Together with the Revolutionists, they are considered drivers of change in the industry.
Regarding the latter faction, which is considered increasingly relevant, the authors suggest that new marketing efforts should be taken, possibly more akin to a partnership approach, that may generate more engagement and empathy, and ultimately, enlighten these consumers of the benefits of legal acquisition and the necessary commerciality required to finance new music development.