Hitting a moving target audience

Was in a T.J. Maxx recently when this song came on.

I love this song. I feel like I’m one of the five people in this country who know this song. I own two (2) copies of this CD. I was completely digging the experience of hearing this obscure music from an obscure band created in an obscure time; it was like a cosmic chain of events that aligned the planets so when I entered this store at this time this song played.

However, two questions came to mind:

  • Why this song?
  • Why this place?

The first question is easy to answer: it’s a great song. At the time, the song charted in the U.S. at #2 on the modern rock tracks and #29 on mainstream rock tracks.

However, its inclusion meant that someone, somewhere chose this song to be included in this particular rotation of songs to create a particular mood for a particular audience. This person had to be familiar with the tune in order to warrant its inclusion — therefore, we can assume this person is of a certain age. If this person were a teenager when the song came out — 1990ish — they are probably 35-40-plus years old. If the person who chose this song is younger, their boss is probably that age.

The second question leads us to another set of assumptions. Music in stores is not arbitrary. If Joseph Lanza has taught us anything, it’s that the music playing over sound systems is carefully chosen in order to create conditions leading to a certain end. Music is chosen for a specific audience.

But who is that audience? Well, me, I guess. I like this music. But, am I the target audience for T.J. Maxx? I rarely go inside one, but now I’m wondering: Am I a potential Maxxinista? I mean, I’m not young, but I’m not really old either. I’m not very hip, but not a square. Truth be told I’m (Gasp!) normal. So this song is played for all the normal people who shop there?

Wait, that doesn’t sound right. I assume that T.J. Maxx’s potential audience is young-to-middle-aged, middle-class women hoping to look good on the cheap. That’s what their advertising says. When’s the last time a man was the main character in a T.J. Maxx commercial?

So, the song is for women?

Wait … that doesn’t sound right either. But then again, the song’s inclusion couldn’t be for the husbands of women of a certain age and socio-economic class in the off-chance that said husbands will be inside the store an hour before it closes looking at clearance football jerseys. Or can it?

I dunno … maybe that’s exactly what it says. Big brother is always watching and the Man is always to stay above me.

Or, maybe the song was included because it was cheap to license. All I know is that as I hummed the song, a little part of me died while hearing it inside that place at the time. I am a commodity. My music is my currency and they are using this musical currency in order to get me to spend real currency.

I still love the song. I hope if you’ve read this much you’ll at least watch the video and see what the fuss is about/ However, I intentionally didn’t get the jersey. After pondering these thoughts in the store, I guess it was a case of this target audience member trying to stick it to the Man and his attempt to cash in on my musical knowledge.

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