LET’S TALK ABOUT TEENAGE GIRLS & TUMBLR
Typical Tumblr user: airheaded teenage girl who listens to metalcore bands that have cute singers.
When it comes to music, teenage girls make the world go ’round. It’s a fact: they are the ones who obsessively fawn over every word out of a band’s mouth, go to every show within a 200 mile radius of their parents’ house, and most importantly, they actually buy stuff (whether CDs or merch). Before you rage, I’m not trolling– this is how it’s worked for as long as pop music has been around (and explains why D.R.U.G.S. sold three times more records than Darkest Hour last week). Basically, any band who ignores the social currency and purchasing power of teenage girls is a bunch of dumb-dumbs.
While Facebook and Bandcamp are great tools for streaming your music and communicating with your fans, I think Tumblr is the most interesting social media platform right now. It’s the closest thing we have to a magical window into the minds of the consumers who drive the music industry (teenage girls), but I haven’t really seen many bands/labels take full advantage of it.
In this post, I will discuss the dynamics of Tumblr culture, share some examples of typical content and draw a few conclusions about what it means for bands and labels who want to market their product to not only Tumblr users, but the lucrative market of teenage girls in general. Also, please follow my Tumblr to keep your finger on the pulse of contemporary youth culture!
Part 1: TYPICAL TUMBLR CONTENT
Lots of pictures of screamo, metalcore and deathcore merch. LOTS. This photo probably got reblogged like 1200 times (srs).
Self-centered, longwinded, lulzy conversations about teenage nonsense (in this case, taking a break from her math class to discuss how stoked she is for an upcoming The Ghost Inside/Parkway Drive show).
Animated GIFs are the heart and soul of Tumblr, especially GIFs made from Youtube videos of popular metalcore/screamo/easycore bands.
Teens love taking a line of the band’s lyrics, and filling it in with the cover of their album. Not sure why.
ITS NOT A PHASE MOM, I WAS BORN THIS WAY
I don’t have time to read 4chan, so I rely on Tumblr to give me the digest version of the best memes the internets have to offer.
If “Feels bad man” isn’t a God-tier meme it definitely should be
She doesn’t care what you think, she is all “u don’t know me, i do wat i want ur not the boss of me Emmure is amazing and haters gonna hate.”
Tumblr, like the rest of the internet, is approximately 75% cat-related content
I feel old when I see kids non-ironically reblogging unaltered pics of random merch like this. I guess to them, there is something special about actually purchasing/owning physical media? Not sure. I will have to do further research and report back to you all on this one.
Another big thing is screencaps of movies with the closed captions on, I guess so you can remember the lulziest parts of the movie without actually having to watch it? Also, Hot Rod is one of the best films of all time.
Lots of people on Tumblr post pictures like this of hot, slutty girls. The internet has always been full of those, but what’s interesting is that on Tumblr, GIRLS post pictures of hot girls as much as boys do. I blame early exposure to porn for conditioning them to pretend they like girls in order to get male attention (srs).
Please let this be some girl’s high school senior portrait!! I can just imagine her mom facepalming when the photographer tells her daughter to “bring something that means a lot to her” and she shows up with a Suicide Silence hoodie.
Pretty accurate IMO
Part 2: CONCLUSIONS
So what does all this mean for bands and/or labels? Like I said, I really haven’t seen many who are taking full advantage of Tumblr — most of the stuff that I see kids reblogging is just from other kids; the bands/labels aren’t taking control of their presence on Tumblr. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but I do think it’s a missed opportunity. Other than a few artists like Big Chocolate, whose Tumblr is pretty much a case study of how to do it right, I just don’t think people understand how to talk to kids. And even if you don’t want to get into the Tumblr world, observing Tumblr culture yields some useful insights about marketing to teenagers in general. I could literally write a book about it, but here’s a couple things to keep in mind, along with applications for bands/labels:
They have the attention span of a hyperactive gnat
Tumblr is the ultimate example of how kids communicate who grew up on video games, the internet, cell phones and 5000 other kinds of media stimulation at all times. Anything that takes more than a split-second to process gets ignored. Even Youtube videos are fairly uncommon on Tumblr, presumably because they take too long to watch– better to just make a GIF of the best two seconds and post that.
Application: Challenge yourself to make retardedly simple, highly rebloggable content
They have no filters
I didn’t post any of it here because MetalSucks is a family site, but there is a ton of pretty intense gore, porn and racist humor on Tumblr. This is the South Park generation, and they are basically impossible to shock thanks to being completely desensitized. Personally, I don’t think this is the end of the world, because every generation gets more edgy than the last one, but it’s definitely weird for people my age to see a 16 year-old girl with a Tumblr name like “-ilovegayblackdicks” posting pictures of shotgun suicides and wearing t-shirts that have “FUCK” on the back in huge, white letters (as 90% of deathcore merch apparently does).
Application: Don’t be afraid of using offensive, shock humor in your marketing. Also, don’t take it too seriously when they say ignorant shit; they don’t really mean it.
Big Chocolate = marketing genius (srs)
They express themselves through the things they buy/consume
Kids reblog pictures of band merch, their iPhone wallpaper, or the interior of Hot Topic because that’s how they tell other kids who they are and what they’re into. To me it’s pretty funny to see a picture of an Asking Alexandria shirt get reblogged 2300 times, but I get it — it’s a very easy, fast way of saying something about yourself (that you want to bang Danny Worsnop, presumably).
Application: When it comes to teenage girls, the actual music often takes a back seat to the fashion/merch. Make sure your merch is something young girls want to buy
Bands better have a hot, charismatic singer
Speaking of Danny Worsnop, the sad truth is that nothing has really changed since the 50s: it’s still all about getting girls to swoon over the singer of the band. Ask yourself if Suicide Silence, Asking Alexandria, Whitechapel, or A Day To Remember would be popular if they had you or me as the singer — it’s all about the hottie frontman. Alternatively, you can also have an “empowered girl singer” ala Hayley Williams or Cassadee Pope, but that’s a trickier one- you have to find that sweet spot where she’s pretty enough that she’s desirable, but not so hot/slutty as to remind fangirls of the popular girls at school who get all the attention (like how shampoo commercials always feature a highly relatable, pretty-but-not-too-hot non-threatening brunette with small boobs).
Application: MUST HAVE PRO GEAR/LOOK
— Sergeant D.
Sergeant D. says chest tattoo = jailbait slutz by the shitload at Stuff You Will Hate.