Kids and Coachella

The Coachella Music and Arts Festival isn’t exactly your parents’ rock concert. Well, unless of course your parents were born after 1964 and are part of what’s known as Generation X or Y. If that’s the case, it’s possible that you’ll attend Coachella with mom and dad.

Generation X is, after all, the original MTV generation (back when MTV actually played music videos). It’s no wonder that Gen X parents continue to be huge consumers of music, and are more in-tune with current music trends than past generations of parents. And, they’re much more likely to share this passion with their children. How else can you explain the popularity of lullaby renditions of Gen X bands such as these:

It should be of no surprise that the next logical step for music-loving Gen Xers is to bring their kids to one of the largest music festivals in the world—Coachella.

And with older Gen Yers entering their child-bearing years and mirroring Gen X’s affinity for music (courtesy of 24/7 access via iPods, streaming, Internet radio, video on demand, etc.), young families are packing up the diaper bag, stocking up on juice boxes and slathering on the Coppertone for Kids … and toting their hip toddlers to Indio, California to take in the three-day music festival.

In between great sets by Arcade Fire, PJ Harvey, Mumford & Sons, The Joy Formidable and many, many others, I had a chance to speak to a number of parents with kids (and teens) in tow.

First there was the forty-something mom who was there on a photo assignment for a local newspaper. She took the opportunity to bring her son and his two teen friends to the concert. During their dinner break together, she shared her day’s work (tons of fantastic shots) while the boys mapped out the rest of the evening’s musical choices. The whole thing was strikingly similar to a typical end-of-the-day kitchen table conversation.

Then there was the Gen X mom enjoying a quick drink in the beer garden while her daughter and friend watched a band. “I bought my daughter Coachella tickets for her sixteenth birthday,” she explains. “It’s a big milestone, so I decided to do something nice for her.”

On the younger end of the spectator spectrum was a local family carting a fully-stocked stroller. “This is our third Coachella as a family,” mom says as dad plays with their two children in front of the Do LaB, an oasis of sorts in the middle of the grounds, featuring misters and various water sprays. As she takes in the pulsating music coming from inside the Do LaB she admits, “We won’t take them in there, because it’s too loud. Out here is where the fun’s at.”

One of Coachella’s many featured artists brought his wife and two young daughters to enjoy the show for the weekend. “When my wife found out I was exhibiting at Coachella, one of the first things she did was research headphones for the kids,” he says. The headphones seem to do the trick—even the youngest, a toddler, was grooving to a set by Erykah Badu.

Even the stars of Nickelodeon children’s series, Yo Gabba Gabba, have made a Coachella appearance in the past:

So does all this mean Coachella is rated G? Hardly. Funny-smelling smoke still fills the air at times, and just one listen to headliner Kanye West’s lyrics will have parents struggling to explain the meaning of new, colorful words.

However, it does mean that the music industry has an opportunity to review how they package outdoor festivals in light of generational shifts. For instance, Goldenvoice, the promoters that put on Coachella, also produce a festival called Stagecoach, usually two weeks after Coachella. Stagecoach focuses on country music and offers family activities such as a petting zoo, games, live music for kids and a free “tag-a-kid” service to prevent lost little ones.

On the broader front, it’s a reminder that in many ways, today’s youth market is really the family market. Unlike past generations, parents and kids today actually talk to each other. They share many of the same musical tastes and fashion sense. They watch many of the same television programs.

Whether it’s a parent influencing a teen on where to open a savings account, or a child influencing what brand of peanut butter mom buys, the opportunity for co-marketing in today’s family-centric environment is immense.

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  1. Pingback: Kids Rock Lollapalooza | X/Y/Z Mashup

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