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Tapping Into the Next Generation

Catering to a group that loves music, diversity, and technology

Music is all about living in the moment. Although most of us enjoy and sell music in our daily lives, rarely do we have the opportunity to experience what it truly is: living art. As a fatherand- son team at the three-day Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, both my Dad (SpeakerCraft president Jeremy Burkhardt) and I were fortunate enough to be able to indulge with 160,000 others in the beautiful Southern California desert, warm sun, amazing art, and great music.

Looking around at all of the smiles on people’s faces last month, no one would have known that we were in the midst of the worst financial crisis since 1929. Music has the ability to take you to imaginary places, soothe the soul, and transcend problems. As a custom installer, the masses trust you guys to provide them with a musical escape in their daily lives.

To me, Coachella isn’t just another concert. I’m currently a high school junior, and I’ve attended every Coachella since the first grade. However, it’s not just the bands that get me excited; it’s the true Coachella experience that pumps me up and

The annual Coachella music festival, held April 17-19 in Indio, California, featured an eclectic blend of musicians, such as headliner Paul McCartney, Leonard Cohen, M.I.A., Morrissey, and My Bloody Valentine. keeps me coming back each year. The quality of Coachella surpasses that of other festivals because of its commitment to customer service and lack of mainstream consumerism.

Each year, my friends and I save up our money in anticipation of Coachella—not because of some cliché down-your-throat marketing that they have implemented, but because we know that they have improved the concert and will provide us with the best customer service possible. For example, a new program this year allowed guests to bring their own water container and refill it for only a dollar. At most other festivals, guests are raped of their money and forced to spend more than five dollars for a bottle of water. Parking is also free at the Coachella, and my eyes are able to enjoy the beautiful desert landscape free of huge corporate banners. Coachella targets my generation perfectly, for my generation is the most skeptical ever. We don’t like to be marketed to, we have more options than ever before, and we demand instant gratification. So how can you sell us?

My generation has grown up with a “we want it all and we want it now” attitude. Diversity is key to pleasing us. For example, last year Roger Waters from Pink Floyd headlined Coachella with classic rock, while Jack Johnson played a chill, surf, and island vibe set, and Irish punk band Flogging Molly belted aggressive and energy filled music at the crowd. At this year’s Coachella, Paul McCartney headlined along with more than 100 other bands from many varied genres.

Most of my peers are not single-minded and do not like just one genre of music. Generally, we are open-minded and the majority of us like all types of music. Most of my friends have iPods and own at least five gigs of music. I have a multi-room home audio system, but I also have an iPod dock speaker system, because it is easy to carry around. From the skate ramp to the pool, I can just dock and play. In reality, all we want is music everywhere and in abundance.

My generation’s music essentially lives on iTunes. The only

time we buy CDs is from local bands at live shows. We buy virtually all of our electronics at the Apple store and other mass market retailers. Honestly, if my Dad wasn’t in this industry, I wouldn’t know what a custom installer was.

At Coachella people were spending money while enjoying life. The ticket for this show was $270 for three days, and yet thousands bought tickets. I read in The New York Times online that despite this depressed economy, the concert season this year is forecasted to be one of the best in years. This proves that we want to be entertained and music and art are a necessity. I suggest you open up and start marketing to us. People want to escape and music is ingrained in us.

As I hear my Dad talk about the custom industry and visit trade shows with him like CEDIA and HTSA, I realize that you are not marketing to my generation, and I can’t figure out why not. Why is it that when a custom installer sold us a $200,000 audio, video and lighting system, he didn’t talk us into a great-sounding computer audio system, even though my generation spends an average of over 40 hours a week on the Internet?

We spend more on electronics than any other generation in history. To us, electronics are disposable. I have owned more than five pairs of headphones, three iPods, eight cell phones, three iPod docks, three video cameras, one digital camera, and eight gaming systems. I bought almost all of it online, and I used Google to research everything before I bought it. My suggestion for the custom industry is to start marketing to us now by proving that you can give a better experience and sell me something exciting. I still work, earn my own money, and plan on buying the next greatest piece of electronics as soon as I know what it is.

Cody Burkhardt is a 16-year-old, 4.0 student who has worked in tech support at SpeakerCraft, plays drums and sax, and now plays bass guitar in the band Rise To Honor.