Kid Think Inc. – What Today’s Kids are Thinking: From classical to classic rock: Tweens talk tunes

To help us keep up-to-date with what's happening with kids, we've asked Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, to investigate and report back to us on a wide range of issues in kids' lives. Since today's kids spend so...
November 1, 1997

To help us keep up-to-date with what’s happening with kids, we’ve asked Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, to investigate and report back to us on a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Since today’s kids spend so much time on-line, Kid Think talked with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online, a proprietary panel of 600 on-line families across the United States.

Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York communications agency specializing in the youth and family markets. If you have any questions or subjects you would like Kid Think to cover, call Bob Horne at 212-337-6410 or e-mail

This month, LiveWire asked kids age 10 to 14 about the role music plays in their lives.

What we found:

Whether it’s for the entertainment value or the emotion that a particular song evokes, it’s certainly clear that music plays an important part in kids’ daily lives. Although the styles of music they prefer are as diverse as the kids themselves, the majority seem to strike a balance between alternative and classic rock, with sprinklings of hip hop and pop. Other kids, like Lucas, age 12, from New Zealand, who tells us he enjoys alternative, blues, classic rock, country and classical, have tastes that span all genres. And like most of us, kids use music to match, as well as to shape, their moods. Aron, age 14, from Washington, says that ‘if I’m depressed, I’ll put on sad music, but most of the time music puts me in a good mood.’

To find out what’s cool in the music scene and ultimately to make a decision about which CD to purchase, kids say they rely on a combination of radio, friends and music videos. While the majority of panelists enjoy new acts like Jewel, Hanson and Spice Girls, classic artists like Elvis, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones are also popular. We were surprised to discover that some panelists even enjoy their parents’ music collections from time to time. Such is the case with Kelsey, age 10, from Colorado, who doesn’t buy CDs. ‘I play my dad’s,’ she says.

LiveWire was also curious if the music in movies, TV shows and commercials has any impact on our kids, and whether it influences their purchasing decisions. What we discovered was that many of our kids recognize music as a helpful tool for movies or television shows and that it sets the mood, adds drama and gives insights into the plot direction. Jarom, age 13, from Utah, says that ‘[music] is very important, because if there wasn’t any, there wouldn’t be any thrill in the movie.’ Jessica, age 12, from New Hampshire, adds that ‘movies and TV shows would be boring without music, and the music gives you hints as to what’s happening.’ Our panelists are also frequent purchasers of movie soundtracks.

Music in a commercial, on the other hand, has far less impact. The majority of our kids were adamant in pointing out that the music in commercials plays no part in convincing them to buy a product. Joanne, from Brooklyn, explains that ‘even if the music is good, it doesn’t persuade me to purchase the product because the music doesn’t have anything to do with it.’ Kids did admit, however, that if there’s cool music, then perhaps it would inspire them to watch. Interest-ingly, some of the kids did name specific commercials with music they liked. Although subtle, the very fact that they recall the product and commercial is perhaps enough influence.

What kids said:

About buying CDs

‘First, if I like the band, I get advice from my friends and try to listen to the albums from other friends who might have it. Then comes the price. If all is good, I’ll buy it.’ Karen, New York, age 12

On artists they would like to meet

‘Kurt Cobain. He started it all in my opinion.’ Rose, Michigan, age 13

‘Jimi Hendrix. I think he was a genius with his music. He could almost make his guitar talk.’ Dan, New Jersey, age 12

‘I would want to meet Geri of the Spice Girls, because I like the way she dresses and sings and because she is a girl.’ Katie, California, age 12

‘Mozart.’ Jason, Pennsylvania, age 10

‘Notorious B.I.G., because he seems so good in his videos, and I like his music.’ Melissa, Pennsylvania, age 14

‘Backstreet Boys. They seem like real go-with-the-flow kind of guys.’ Matthew, Pennsylvania, age 12

‘Elvis, because he was cool.’ Patrick, Maryland, age 12

‘Jewel. She wrote three of my favorite songs.’ Corie, Massachusetts, age 10

‘John Lennon helped change the whole music scene. He seemed extremely intelligent and a nice person who would be interesting to talk to.’ Aron, Washington, age 14

Next month: KidThink will ask kids how they see the future.

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