As we move into summer music festival and tour season we plan on running a series of stories that have to do with music including specific bands to note in terms of trendsetting styles and influences, and the correlations that result from music in youth culture markets in North America, Europe, Japan, and China. To start, we wanted to provide a quantitative report that shows just how powerful the correlation is between music and youth culture markets.

However at Label Networks, we are often asked why we concentrate on asking the youth market so many questions regarding music preferences, and how such information can be useful. How, for example, can knowing that a particular demographic such as 15-17-year-old males who tend to prefer Punk Rock or J-rock going to help with selling shoes or apparel or correlate with beverage preferences? How does the fact that Rap/Hip-Hop’s popularity will affect future business? What does it really mean in terms of fashion business strategies that ’80’s and ’90’s Nu Rave is being recontextualized by new bands? Or what does the resurrection of the b-boy scene mean when it comes to business strategies?

For companies working in youth culture markets, knowing music and the subtle shifts in subculture preferences among young people should be a vital part of their overall business strategies and direction if it isn’t already. Music is so connected to the thoughts, ideas, and emotions of young people that you cannot disconnect the two: music industry/youth market industry. For the most successful new brands in youth culture, they know what’s going on in the subcultures of music and use it. In some cases, such as Volcom Vans, Famous Stars & Straps, it’s almost difficult to see which is the main driving force -the brand or the music. But for others who have a difficult time making the leap towards correlating such music knowledge with specifics of their business, this report is dedicated to you.

To measure where trends in fashion, lifestyle preferences and influences, communication, identity, and style are coming from and going to, look hard at the subcultures within music, mainly Rock, Punk, Rap/Hip-Hop, R&B, Indie and Alternative, as well as Reggae, Dancehall, Reggaeton, and now, the resurgence of ’80’s retro music, Nu Rave, the Metal scene, J-rock and J-Pop, LAM (Latin Alternative Music), Hyphy out of Oakland, and Emo among the top categories (there are many sub-categories as well). In North America especially, music is one of the main driving forces influencing trends among young people ages 13-25-years-old. Why? Because music is emotional, heartfelt, and gives many young people a sense of connection they can barely understand or describe. Music touches on something that’s beyond logic, statistics, and charts. It taps into the mammalian part of the brain, which is also where the best advertising works. It makes you feel things -even buy things. It gives you identity. And when asked why a particular band is a favorite, the #1 response is often “because I can relate.”

By knowing various types of music preferences either by demographics or preferences you can also “profile” your target markets’ sense of identity, influences, likes and dislikes. For example in sports, based on our research over the past 8 years, there are direct correlations among those who skateboard and those who prefer Punk. Both tend to appeal to younger demographics (13-17), people who are into short sound-bites and video clips, are motivated by experiencing something new or something funny, and are often in a phase of discovery about themselves, others, and their surroundings.