When you think about the truly seminal bands that made Classic Rock the iconic music (and format) it has become, the Beatles, Stones, and Led Zeppelin immediately come to mind. Others might mention Queen, Aerosmith, and the Eagles as bands that played a key role in the history of rock during this magical area for music.
And then there’s Pink Floyd.
Arguably, they belong at this elite level. While not usually thought of as a British Invasion band, the original Pink Floyd was formed in London in 1965 at the same moment that so many groups broke through. Yet, Floyd has always stood apart from the Kinks, the Animals, the Dave Clark 5, and Herman’s Hermits – all big hitmakers from across the pond.
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Floyd has the added distinction of being a so-called psychedelic group, based on the flavor, vibe, and tone of their music. Early on, their compositions tended to be longer and more flowing, with lyrics that were deeply rooted in philosophical messaging that connected with the hipsters of the day.
Like many bands that came up in the 60’s, there are stories and tales surrounding the band. Original member and leader Syd Barrett left Floyd in 1968 for mental health reasons. He was never to rejoin the band. Other traumas with bandmates took place over the years as well.
And yet, Pink Floyd’s music rapidly became an indelible soundtrack of the times, not just to the early generations that discovered the band on FM radio, but to later legions of fans. When you think of artists that have been adopted by fans too young to have experienced a band in real time, Floyd is one that instantly comes to mind.
The band’s albums, “Wish You Were Here,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” and “The Wall” are among the most popular and best-selling of all time. But their remarkable success was about more than their music – Floyd’s album artwork was always the most original, recognizable, and iconic even throughout the Classic Rock’s golden age. And their concerts became multimedia extravaganzas, complete with lighting, graphics, and even inflatable pigs.
Still, it was about the music. Pink Floyd albums were always more than just collections of songs. They were referred to as “concept albums,” with themes, visuals, and sound effects that were connected and thematic.
And they had monster hits. Floyd’s best songs almost always tested extremely well – back then as well as today. In most Classic Rock gold tests, it’s not unusual for anthems like “Money,” “Another Brick in the Wall,” and others to occupy the upper regions of the results.
Sometimes programmers balk at playing Pink Floyd songs with the frequency they deserve. That’s because they’re spacey, moody, and sweeping. In other words, not always radio-friendly, especially when programmers are going after tempo and energy.
But Floyd endures, on the radio, on vinyl, and in the hearts and minds of fans that go back decades.
And now, they’re on TikTok.
Now, at first glance, that extension may seem like an overreach, maybe even a miscalculation. After all, the prime audience for TikTok is still Gen Z.
And while the social platform has experienced demographic growth across the spectrum, it is still dominated by youth.
So, what is Pink Floyd thinking?
1.It’s time to cash in – According to Bloomberg, the band has entered negotiations to sell its catalog, following other Classic Rock-era artists, including Springsteen, Dylan, Neil Young, and Steve Nicks. Racking up impressive TikTok numbers would demonstrate the size and scope of Floyd’s following, even in 2022. Their best music may be decades old, but their appeal as artists remains vibrant and contemporary.
2. Going on TikTok symbolizes a red-letter occasion for Floyd – On the same day they launched on the platform (May 30), the band entered the studio 50 years ago earlier to record “Dark Side of the Moon.” The planets have indeed lined up.
3. Their music works on the platform – TikTok users will be able to use clips from Floyd classics to create videos with their audio and effects, another way their hits will gain huge exposure among a younger crowd.
4. The band knows how to make great TikTok videos – While other mature celebrities have struggled with the short video format, Floyd’s team “gets” how to use the platform. I spend time on TikTok, and was expecting the usual fare when I pushed “play” on one of the band’s first videos. And I watched this mini-masterpiece:
5. Why not go on TikTok? Over the decades, Pink Floyd has endured, attracting new fans to their spacey syndicate of sound. Who’s to say they cannot attract teens and college students of today’s Gen Z?
I usually suggest brands stay in their social media
@pinkfloyd Pink Floyd has arrived #pinkfloyd #anotherbrickinthewall #fyp ♬ original sound – Pink Floyd
lanes. In other words, fish where your fish are. Be proficient in tech spaces where your audience typically congregates. That philosophy usually works, but up to a point.
That’s because as Classic Rock stations know so well, their core audience is aging. It is essential to replace long-time fans with new blood. And the format has shown great resilience these past many years. There are increasing signs young people are great candidates to become hardcore followers – if you just activate them. We see this all the time at Classic Rock concerts where young people are in attendance, far more than logic would suggest. TikTok is a place where the best vintage rockers have a chance to reach a whole new audience.
And let’s not forget that Pink Floyd was always a groundbreaker, even in the earliest days when the band released songs like “See Emily Play” and even appeared on the BBC’s “Top of he Pops” show. Later, albums like “Ummagumma,” “Atom Heart Mother,” and “Meddle” became underground favorites, earning heavy airplay on FM progressive rock stations.
So is it a major leap to think Pink Floyd can take on TikTok and make it work? Not at all. In fact, platforms like TikTok and Twitch may have a strong youthful appeal, but any brand can succeed if they bring the right mindset and great content.
And does it mean adult radio brands have the chance to connect in these youth-oriented portals as well, utilizing well-produced, breakthrough videos? Absolutely.
Pink Floyd’s videos on TikTok and the response they hear will be closely watched by other artists wondering whether they, too, can tap into new reservoirs of fans that spend mass quantities of time on TikTok.
As always, Pink Floyd is the pioneer. Being a trailblazer is in the band’s DNA.
Don’t be surprised if it starts a trend.
P.S. I ran across the Little Rock Store while researching today’s post. It’s a cool online store with great music-themed merch for kids. Here’s the link for all your rock kids’ needs: https://www.littlerockstore.com/bands/pink-floyd-baby-kids-clothes
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