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Three questions with the same answer:

Story #1: For a couple years I played as a sideman in a band that’d made a pretty good name for itself in “indie” circles after more than a decade of national touring. While we were on one of those tours, they were simultaneously shopping a new album to labels and contemplating a name change.

I asked them, why the hell would you change your name (and a cool name, at that) after spending so much time building a reputation and following?


Story #2: I once opened an email from a Portland musician who was starting to have some success nationally, and the email was basically an apology to his fanbase for lying about his age. Turns out, he was actually 5 or 6 years older than he’d let on. He had a career outside of music. His life wasn’t all rock-n-roll glitz and glamor like he’d wanted us to believe.

I asked myself, why lie about a handful of years?


Story #3: I heard about a band that recently had a major (MAJOR) hit after two decades of releasing music. The band was consciously trying to avoid drawing too much attention to their back catalog or their career prior to hitting it big.

I thought to myself, why — if you suddenly have millions of new fans — wouldn’t you encourage them to stream or buy the best stuff from your previous records too?


I think the answer to all three of these questions is: the artists (and the managers, publicists, or labels they worked with) assumed — correctly or not — that age isn’t an asset in this industry; that audiences want freshness (if not youth); and that acknowledging you’ve been in the trenches for so long might somehow tarnish a prospective fan’s impression of you.

What’s in a number!?

Oh, I’ve never heard of you, but you’ve put out 6 records already? You must be old news!

Oh, You’re making pop music in your mid-30’s? Ewwww. 

Oh, it’s so much easier to promote an up-and-coming band. Less baggage!

Like, we’re all supposed to be fully-realized artists by age 18? Debut at #1? Never have any missteps or mere brushes with success? I call bullshit.

In all three of the cases above, I didn’t blame the artists. I felt bad for them. They were just dealing with a very real (or at least really perceived) pressure often placed on musicians to be young — and if not young, new.

But let’s deal with real life for a second.

Real life, where most people don’t hit it big on their first try.

Real life, where everyone ages, and sometimes for the better.

Real life, where diligence, productivity, and passion can yield results in the long run.

Why should it be any different in the music world?

Here’s the silver lining: it’s not different (under sane circumstances); you really can be young, old, new, seasoned, whatever. You can be YOU, and still find success — IF you define success as something that sustains you, pays the bills, and connects with audiences.

Sure, if you want to be a teen-targeted pop star who sells out Madison Square Garden, you better get famous young. But if you’re making music for a more mature audience, it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how far back your career reaches, or how many albums you’ve put out.

Don’t invest your soul or your art in something that only pays dividends to the young and new. Everyone eventually is neither of those things.

Youth-obsession is a sickness in our culture. It’s a black hole that swallows our time, money, passions, relationships, health,… and it often pays nothing back but anxiety and self-contempt.

As far as your music career goes though, there’s a cure!

  1. Every year at Folk Alliance International I’m reminded that a whole economy exists around house-concerts and listening rooms where audiences pay good money to listen to older artists (some of them relatively obscure) perform their songs. It feels so freeing, inspiring, community-oriented — especially because the music is kickass — to be in a musical space where age is not a barrier to success. No matter what genre you perform, there’s probably a similar community out there for you. Find it. Join it. Nurture it. It will nurture you back as you develop your talents, go gray in the beard, and change the ways you interact with your audience year after year.
  2. With streaming platforms, music releases no longer have a shelf-life since there’s no such thing as shelf space. This also means there’s less focus on the “end-cap” mentality of pushing whatever is newest. My automatically-generated Discover Weekly playlists on Spotify contain just as many catalog songs as they do new releases, meaning old songs can continually be served to new listeners. They never get stale! Also, Perrin Lamb and Craig Cardiff, two CD Baby artists who’ve seen big things happen through Spotify playlisting, have both had their biggest playlist successes with songs that’d already been out for years. And when an artist like that finds success, their new fans DO go back and listen to other previous releases. That means a deeper connection, more loyal fans, and more streaming revenue.
  3. And as for changing your name, or hiding your history, in order to appear shiny and new — okay, maybe you’re one in a thousand bands who takes that approach and has a big win. But the other 999 bands are now left traveling the same road they were already on, only without the benefit of whatever fanbase, press quotes, touring history, and catalog was associated with the old band name. If you have a crappy or confusing band name, change it right away. If your name suits you but you’re just worried the magic has worn off, dig in instead. Stick with the name, the fans, the “journey” (self help alert!). Keep putting out better and better music. Just like your actual name, hopefully the band name that you kept over the long haul comes to represent something that improved with age.

At least that’s my opinion. Do you disagree? What’s your experience been like as a musician when it comes to age or “newness?” I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • Daniel Ruffing

    Great article. I personally don’t think age makes too much of an impact, as I have found a small following within a few months of releasing my first song. Though who can really be sure? I know I won’t be overly popular, but just knowing that at least one person enjoys my work is enough for me to keep writing. I’m an instrumental composer and I would absolutely love if anyone could follow my Spotify artist page! I will of course follow you back- just let me know you followed me and leave a link!
    My profile: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5X4aSzU69G4imhYYRMge3E

  • Marc Schmidlin

    I think it does matter but not in those factors you mentioned above. From my experience as you get older people take you more seriously and treat you with much more respect from the beginning.

  • Victoria Storm

    In my 20s and early 30s I played a lot of live shows, did some quality recording, and then life happened. I landed a good steady job that kept me from doing any touring, got married, had kids and a dog. Now I am again playing in a band, having a blast, and enjoying some successes and drawing a crowd for our gigs. I am releasing some tracks that never got out there before. I’m struggling on how to approach this – how do I share the songs without making myself sound dated in my press releases, album notes, etc. My new band doesn’t have any recordings of our own yet, and we are playing these tunes at our shows, so I thought I could breathe a little life back into the old tracks. Got any suggestions? Anyone else out there dealing with this too?

    • One way to get around that… don’t mention WHEN it was recorded. For all anyone knows, you went into the studio last week.

      • Danie

        I am getting serious airplay on some “local” internet radio stations from a bunch of acoustic tracks I recorded in 2004. It is literally in the Top 20 charts!

    • Yeah, this really resonates with me. Feel ya.

    • 3 Doors Down

      I suggest re-recording the songs again in a different style, you could also feature a younger artist on some of the tracks. It helps you bring the song back to life.

  • Izzy Ignacio

    I agree with this article, but it doesn’t apply to me since I’m young, so I’m just starting out, it might help in the future though. Follow me on spotify though, I follow back https://open.spotify.com/artist/4jnm3g9ayrD6AtYA0aMYWl

  • Izzy Ignacio

    I agree with this article, but it doesn’t apply to me since I’m young, so I’m just starting out, it might help in the future though. Follow me on spotify though, I follow back https://open.spotify.com/artist/4jnm3g9ayrD6AtYA0aMYWl

  • Dawna Marie Wright

    I manage a band of 4 salty and seasoned musicians here in Toronto.Their fan base is 35+ yrs.”They are Toronto’s BEST Original Rock Band that you never heard of.Your mom and dad will love them.” As a band ,They have been on the LIVE local music scene for about 4 yrs and in the studio recording non stop.Age is but a number because music in itself is ageless.I think the older we get our tastes grow deeper for the appreciation of great song writing and craftmanship of a tune and we become more interested in the musicianship of the players involved.Young or old or new,there is an audience big or small for all kinds of music.Play ON!
    check out http://www.soundcloud.com/SimpleDamnedDevice
    Then check out their bios: http://www.SimpleDamnedDevice.com

  • As an ‘aging’ musician singer/songwriter I can identify with this article. A few months ago a gal who is promoting her new strategy for growing a music career came on quickly using Facebook. I watched her intro video on her strategy, giving just enough that it encouraged the listen to purchase the entire program. To her credit, she is defining ‘making it’ in musc as earning a living and not that whole total stardom thing. Unfortunately near the end of her video she took a huge stab at ‘old, out of touch’ musicians and that she isn’t one of ‘them’. She lost me right there. If someone has to attack you due to being experience they aren’t the kind of person that has advice I want.

    • Great point. Hopelessly closed-minded? That’s one thing, and you find it in every age group. But “out of touch”? Easy solution: get them in touch!

    • Jody Whitesides

      She’s making her living via getting other musicians to purchase her program. I found that to be disingenuous as she’s actually being a teacher or consultant. I say that because if you look at her streaming numbers, its pretty obvious she’s not making money via fans.

  • Angwish

    Great article!

  • Richard Sorce

    After years of writing and producing for others–and making the Billboard Charts–I now write and produce what has always been MY passion, and although it’s not in the commercial, popular genre/style, it is receiving international airplay and excellent reviews. Follow your passion regardless of age and what others say.

  • Sankarshan Das Adhikari

    I am turning 70 this year, and I am reviving the old singer/songwriter that was me cranking out songs 50 years ago. I can write songs a thousand better that I did when I was young. So I agree with your article. I’ve been told that I am the only one who is writing songs of significance. Sankarshan Das (www.turnontheworld.com)

  • At 73, and still writing, recording and performing, I totally agree! I joke with my fans saying things like – wow, all my groupies are in their 60’s and 70’s LOL! Still dancing up a storm!

  • Me

    So if you have an album that was released say 9 years ago, I could also say that you have experience right?

  • Gary Bixler

    Chris, I was a busy pro/amateur musician early in life, traveled, recorded all between 14 and 23. After that, married, had kids, went into business, had a long career, without music. I ignored it, because it was painful, as it had been my passion. Last year my grown kids gave me a Michael Buble CD for Christmas, and said, “you used to sing like this, Dad.” And after a run through that recording, plus more listening to my favorite artists who do jazz standards, I realized it was still in me. I got a friend’s advice, put in the simplest recording setup possible in my home office, and started singing again. I’m in the stage where lots of people say they love my music, have gotten fans on RN, SC, LinkedIn and dabbled in FB. But the big issue has been my age. I’m 64 and look a bit like Burl Ives, with a voice more like Andy Williams or Jack Jones. And the age thing has been a sticker, because my wife doesn’t want me to post pictures. I maintain that if they like Greg Porter (hat and all), and they listen to Tony Bennett at 90 and Jack Jones at 80+, and so many artists now, even in the rock genre, are playing into their 70’s (is there an uglier bunch than the Stones?), then why not a graybearded, largish, guy who sings the way they like it? Yet it is still there, this nagging sense that nobody will represent a guy who is this old with only his new stuff to sell. Just appreciated your article, because i’m discovering thousands of older musicians on the web, trying to enjoy their later years still being musically productive.

    • Not to question your wife’s judgement, but holding back on posting pictures of yourself when you’re trying to promote your music is just playing into that whole youth/beauty-obsession. I mean, don’t post crappy pictures. But there’s a way to get some good photos with a good vibe that convey something about your music, whether you’re 20 or 90, big or small, or anything else. I think it’s all about conveying an attitude, not a standard of beauty. Anyway, I’m happy to hear you’re finding some inspiration and community in your return to music. Keep me posted!

  • Ronnie Lee

    Wow. This really his home. I’ve been “in” the music scene for over 20 years. That’s right. When I was in my 20s, I said when I turn 30 I was going to quit music. When I was in my 30s, I said when I turn 40, I was going to quit music. Now, at 42, I just see where every day takes me. I’m an Independent Drummer, Producer, Singer-Songwriter, and a full-time Husband and Father. I have released several solo albums and a bunch of band albums. Currently I am in a new band called RADIO with other friends who have struggled with the solo gig. Now that we are a band, we feel more energy and drive to get out there and perform. The problem is finding the right gig. Being a ProgRock band, it’s hard to get gigs at venues that can hold our production. I play a large drum kit that takes up an 8 x 8 space and I’m not going to shave it down to a four piece. After reading this article, it has encouraged me to keep going and to never give up. Because you just never know when or if you’ll become successful in music.

    • Right on. “Success” — you get to define it however you like too. Making music that inspires you while you also have a family, that’s one version of success right there.

  • Peter Enola

    Chris, thanks for this. Made my day. I’m 40 now and have been producing music since more than 15 years and never quite hit it, in spite of great reviews and very positive feedback. Sometimes I feel old already and feel that it’s not gonna happen anymore for me and I’ve even lost some of my passion for music due to it, which is a shame. And then I listen to all these young kids who increasingly lack musicality and instead are just great with a mouse. And that hurts. I don’t want to complain, but it does hurt when you were raised with the idea that it’s not about the money or the technical knowledge, but about music and passion. Anyways….it’s good to read that not everyone thinks that age is a drawback. Thanks!

  • Peter Enola

    Chris, thanks for this. Made my day. I’m 40 now and have been producing music since more than 15 years and never quite hit it, in spite of great reviews and very positive feedback. Sometimes I feel old already and feel that it’s not gonna happen anymore for me and I’ve even lost some of my passion for music due to it, which is a shame. And then I listen to all these young kids who increasingly lack musicality and instead are just great with a mouse. And that hurts. I don’t want to complain, but it does hurt when you were raised with the idea that it’s not about the money or the technical knowledge, but about music and passion. Anyways….it’s good to read that not everyone thinks that age is a drawback. Thanks!

    • Glad to make your day. Thanks for reading and sharing. And yeah, when I go to conferences like Folk Alliance, I totally see age as an asset. The older writers have, to be cliche, experience. Their songs always seem a little more lived, patient, authentic, poetic, etc.

  • Ageism is very rampant in this business. I can remember being told time and time again by my former majer label: “It’s a young business..” If I had a dime for every time I heard that statement from them, I may have gotten paid more royalties than for the records I sold for them (sold 500,000 btw)!

    But I digress. Age is a number. What advice I do give to artists that are older is this: You cannot escape the ageism, so don’t take it personally. And don’t apply ageism to yourself. Work YOUR following, be the best at what you do, give all of yourself to the fans that support you. Don’t make excuses for your lack of inspriration or energy as you being “old”. Artists (and I’ve done it), have a tendancy to be affected by this ageism without realising that for every music known to man, there is a fanbase. Find yours. Cater to it, love it, support it!

  • Paul Baxter
    • Denise Jones

      Paul… I definitely needed your post. I am 48, and wrapping recording on my first full length CD. I’ll also be using CD Baby. I’m trying very hard to have no expectations. Life took me down a road for a while that had no music, and I can’t imagine going back to that, so in some ways I have no choice but to put it out there. Good luck with your single!

  • Lawrence Collins

    Hi Chris- great article. Gives one faith. I’ve been playing music for 25 years, living and gigging full time for the last 15… Put out 11 albums, all indies. made a little money of them, but it’s the stage that pays the bills. We’re now averaging 80-100 gigs a year. 2 cats, a home, a divorce, and especially a beautiful daughter later, I have a massive smile and a good laugh every time I load up the gear with the boys and head off to gig. You’re tip about working the Spotify playlists is a good one… I have a tune that’s been selling my albums, just on it’s own, called Another Sky… going to keep your advice close at hand. The age thing really bugs me… but then again, when I see 20 year olds come up to me and ask me for autographs and dates… I laugh inside at the industry “standards” and the bean counting weenies that often come up with them… The secret to longevity is, to put it simply, love what you do and do it live, every night, week after week. That passion is transmitted to your fans, then, through them, to their friends. Regardless of their age- or yours. As to re-cycling older tracks. A good song will always be… a good song. Peace from Bordeaux and keep the great advice coming!
    Lawrence Collins
    http://www.lawrencecollinsband.com

    • Great to hear. Good advice about just… keeping at it, and the energy spreading. Thanks for sharing.

  • jboaudioe

    Great article. I found this very helpful.

    Producing and managing three artists right now who are in their early to mid 30’s. This read gives more confidence for me to tell them that age doesn’t really matter.

    Continue to make more music, & you get better each time.

    Thanks Chris Robley.

  • Patricia Shih

    I found this article interesting, but I am in a niche that DOESN’T CARE how old you are — family/children’s music! To kids, ALL adults are “old!” I have been a full-time professional musician since I was 15 (first recording contract) and now I have 9 albums: 5 for kids and families, 4 for adults. Yes, I still have been performing for adults too. I get a kick out of adults who come up to me to say “I used to bring my kids to see you back in _______, and now I’m bringing my grandkids to see you!” I have managed my career so that I can perform for all ages — EXCEPT the “music industry holy ages of teens – 20s.” But once they start having kids, I get them; I KEEP them with my music for adults.

    I aim for longevity in a business that spits out musicians when they want you to believe you are washed up if you’re over 30. I am proud to say I have had a nearly 5 decade-long career (yes, I’m THAT old!) and have made a lovely living in music all that time. Now I’m aiming for the senior citizens!!!

  • Patricia Shih

    I found this article interesting, but I am in a niche that DOESN’T CARE how old you are — family/children’s music! To kids, ALL adults are “old!” I have been a full-time professional musician since I was 15 (first recording contract) and now I have 9 albums: 5 for kids and families, 4 for adults. Yes, I still have been performing for adults too. I get a kick out of adults who come up to me to say “I used to bring my kids to see you back in _______, and now I’m bringing my grandkids to see you!” I have managed my career so that I can perform for all ages — EXCEPT the “music industry holy ages of teens – 20s.” But once they start having kids, I get them; I KEEP them with my music for adults.

    I aim for longevity in a business that spits out musicians when they want you to believe you are washed up if you’re over 30. I am proud to say I have had a nearly 5 decade-long career (yes, I’m THAT old!) and have made a lovely living in music all that time. Now I’m aiming for the senior citizens!!!

  • KATE

    Just the article I needed to read. Great article. I don’t think age makes a difference at all. I’ve had some reviews saying I sound too young for my songs but Im in my upper 20’s.
    If any one has soundcloud and wants to give me a follow, I follow back! https://soundcloud.com/bateskate

  • William Ford McGee

    Great discussion- I started recording as a horn man in 1970 – recorded and backed Stars – had a Top 40 Funk Soul Disco hit as a member of Trussel “Love Injectionl” played trumpet on the classic Pioneering Rap hits “Freedom” and “Apache” for Sugarhill records.. 1980 / 81 – recorded for the OJay’s – Started a rap label had underground hits and a great Remix with Aaliyah and The SupaFriendz… started my own solo jazz career at 49 years old – Last year at 64 as a Soloist the single off of my 4th solo CD went to #18 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Chart – highest chart position in my life at 64 Years old.. on the other charts the single made the Top 15 for the entire year of 2016. With digital technology and distribution there is NO AGE LIMIT to making good music!!! I advise all of my 1960’s and 1970’s colleagues to go for it.. make these you guns step up their game… Bill McGee – CEO The 804 Music Group

  • pjmuck

    If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s the apologetic, self-demeaning, older artist who gives themselves a name like, “The Old Fogies”, or “The Ageless Wonders” or some BS like that. Why are you so self-conscious and embarrassed with who you are, and why do you feel the need to draw attention to your age? It’s as if they have to head people off at the pass before people realize they’re older and will formulate a negative conclusion. Nobody knows how old you are, and nobody cares. And if they do, you don’t need them at your shows, ’cause they’re not your audience.

  • I am a 63 year-old musician and have been playing since 1963! I pursued music as a vocation after graduation from college in 1975, and until about 1990, had to work day jobs to sustain myself. Since 1990, I have made a living from music. I don’t make a BIG living, but a living I make. I own a home in Seattle and I have a family. My son, also a musician, graduated from Berklee College of Music, and my wife and I paid for his education completely. So while we are not affluent, we are doing okay. My point is that I am still capable of making my living as a musician. I am a recording artist, have released five CDs under my own name (currently planning my 6th), and my compositions have appeared in minor film soundtracks and in television/radio commercials. I am a well-established guitar and music instructor in Seattle, teach workshops around the US/Canada, and teach through one of the largest online guitar instruction websites in the world, with students all over the world. I also coach many young singer-songwriters in guitar technique, so that they are able to adeptly perform as soloists, as well as work within ensembles.

    I am not important, not a star, not a big deal in any way. However, I am still relevant (even if only in my own delusional mind), and I work to continue my relevance. I do not advertise my age, but I also do not avoid people knowing about how old I am for fear that no one will want to hire me anymore. I perform quite regularly, teach workshops regularly and have private students. I would not be surprised to find out that some venues (that show no interest in my overtures to them for gigs) are not interested in me because I am not the hottest, new thing, or because they feel “If he were any good, he’d be famous by now……”. Okay, fine. But you and I know that this is not necessarily the case. I am sure that I am also able to be relevant because I am also known as (and forgive this ridiculous title) a “guitar virtuoso” and a “master of the blues”. I think that, if I were a pop musician, my situation would be quite a bit more dismal at this age. I know, and have worked with, many jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass and rock musicians over the years (and still do), as well as blues musicians. Many of these musicians make a living doing what they do also. But it isn’t easy and one has to constantly reinvent and/or redefine oneself, if one is not a star.

    I still aspire to greater heights, to realize more of my lifelong dreams and to leave a legacy in which I can take pride. I really believe that one cannot let age define or limit oneself.

    Yours in improvisation………

  • brad813

    For me at least, being in my late 30s, I am using it to my advantage. I realize I have to be able to get the teen and young adult market, but have the age to understand that it is the older audience that tends to be the most loyal fans. I do a sort of harder pop rock with a 70s/80s feel, and that has broad appeal. I am also in a unique position to cross-promote since I am also involved in film and television, which allows me to sync music I write to my own productions. Older new musicians just have to be more creative in how they approach the business.

  • Steve Vertun

    I just turned 59 years old. Was not previously famous or well known. I recently released (February 2017) my first solo artist CD “Ghost, Shadow and Sun”. The CD is a blending of Rock, Alternative, 70’s, Grunge, Pop. I also released a video “Ghost” in the same time frame (https://youtu.be/OWE3MElJf3Y). To the point of this article, I don’t believe that age should be a limiting factor. Perhaps there are some unavailable or more challenging roads to travel, however there is still plenty of landscape if you’ve got the fire in your belly. Check this out as valiidation: In the past 8 weeks, I have completed the following:
    By the numbers:
    Released “Ghost, Shadow and Sun”. February 2017 (CDbaby, iTunes, Spotify and many other major sites)
    @ Steven J Vertun
    Released “Ghost” video February. Check it out, the quality of it is outstanding!

    Launched Artist Site: 1 (www.Stevenjvertun.com)
    Number of Artist pages created: 2 (Facebook: Steven J Vertun and Steve Vertun)

    Number of Videos: 1
    #2 filming in May 29th, 2017

    Number of FB friends pre-January 2017: 164
    Current number of FB friends 3/30/17: 4259

    Number of followers Pre-January: 26
    Current Followers: 747

    Number of FB views of “Ghost” on January 13th: 0
    Number of views current: 14,463 and counting

    Number of YouTube views January 13th: 0
    Number of current YouTube views: 1,801 (Made some rookie mistakes on this marketing, pushing the YouTube marketing angle beginning next week!)

    Number of written interviews: 6
    Number of phone interviews: 5
    Podcasts: 2

    Number of album reviews: 6 (Rock internet sites)
    Average ratings on Reviews 4.7 stars (out of 5)

    Most Notable: https://www.facebook.com/RADIOMEMPHISAROUNDTHEWORLD/photos/a.236598449864879.1073741828.231392610385463/650498315141555/?type=3&ref=notif&notif_t=mention&notif_id=1488860280979595
    Chosen as Artist of the month: Radio Memphis (300K unique daily listeners) for the month of March
    Played 3-4 Steven J Vertun Tracks each Saturday for the entire month
    Live interview in their studio, in Memphis March 18th! What a great experience it was!!!
    Future: Releasing a previous re-mastered version of a “Waterline” Summer of 2017
    Currently writing a new collection of songs, looking at a January 2018 release date
    Filming next video May 29th

  • Jaclyn Steele

    Love this article! Thank you. Regular life pressure is enough without this perverted expectation that we have to defy nature by not aging. It’s bizarre and totally not normal. Thank you for being real. I’m 30 and I love making music. And I’m not going to stop because someone tells me I’m too old to do what I love. (BTW… 30 is NOT old!)

    • 30? Spring chicken! But yeah, keep making music for the next 80 years.

      • Jaclyn Steele

        HAHA!! Thank you… and I will! This was a fantastic article and I hope everyone takes it to heart. It’s never to late to do what you love to do. <3

  • 3 Doors Down

    Great article Chris!
    Though I still believe age plays a big role in music, I feel the biggest role is how you mature and grow as an artist. Fans always watch out for that musical growth in an artist, when they see you creating more appealing music, selling out larger shows, etc, they (fans) tend to get attached and be part of what you’re doing.
    I also believe that there can be an age cross-over; where the young artist can break into an older audience and an older artist breaking into a younger audience. It all depends on open mindness, hard work and a bit of luck. But luck seems to come easier at a younger age.

    Lewisland
    https://www.facebook.com/lewislandofficial/timeline?ref=page_internal

  • TK Bap

    Thank you. I love this!

  • TK Bap

    Thank you. I love this!

  • Sky Dolphin

    Very cool and important article for all…Thank you, Scott Huckabay / *Please enjoy a recent live video clip performing one of my songs, ‘State of Profusion’: http://youtu.be/J_LgtyA4E4A

  • tunez

    We do it to ourselves. Show me a person who practices ageism and I’ll show you a person who discriminates because of appearance or looks, or thinks that millennials are lazy. From any viewpoint assumptions can be made about any group. Young or old. America is famous for this.

    The only thing that will change minds are artilcles like yours and for society to fix it’s disfunction by educating itself better. The truest reality is that somone who is mega talented will eventually rise to the top. The mediocre with love for their craft will just have to get by.

  • John

    This was a great article Chris! One of the best topics yet I’ve seen covered!

  • David Havrilla
  • David Havrilla
  • Tom Hendricks

    May I ask that you stop saying bands as if all musicians are in that 60 year old formula. Many like me don’t want to fit that formula. Music industry is in a nosedive and it is time for something new.

  • Tom Hendricks

    Right now music has 3 CEOs that control 80% Warners,Sony,Universal , and they only promote six aging teen pop stars Gaga Swift Adele Beyoncé Perry Bieber . No matter our age all other musicians are out of career till this changes.

  • Tom Hendricks

    Right now music has 3 CEOs that control 80% Warners,Sony,Universal , and they only promote six aging teen pop stars Gaga Swift Adele Beyoncé Perry Bieber . No matter our age all other musicians are out of career till this changes.

  • Brian Gale

    Pretty much what I’ve been saying for years. It’s nice to have it “verified!”

  • Stuart Snyder

    Excellent Advice!

  • Matt Lewis

    For me, it isn’t about my age or my years of experience and musicianship. But rather the people in the business today, who for the most part are looking for that young green performer/musician. My target market for my music, is 55+yrs of age. Got to face the fact that unless you have had success in the past and have a name, trying to inspire a young audience who listen to music on cheap ear plugs and cell phones doesn’t make for success for older unknown performers.

  • Donnie M

    #1 Christian Rock Artist in CT for two years, now! 60 years old! Thank You, Lord! https://www.reverbnation.com/q/6we2uh

  • Debbie Zepick

    I am old…I mean REALLY old!!! I definitely can relate to this article. I put out 8 albums and then decided that no one wanted to go to a concert and see someone as old as me….perhaps I need counselling, but as a female I think it is especially difficult. Anyway, I have decided that I need to get rid of these cds before my kids have to get rid of them after I die. Coasters anyone???

  • Debbie Zepick

    I am old…I mean REALLY old!!! I definitely can relate to this article. I put out 8 albums and then decided that no one wanted to go to a concert and see someone as old as me….perhaps I need counselling, but as a female I think it is especially difficult. Anyway, I have decided that I need to get rid of these cds before my kids have to get rid of them after I die. Coasters anyone???

    • Tom Hipps

      May I respectfully submit: It would be a shame to let your negative attitude toward age stop you. You’ve got 8 ALBUMS worth of songs to share!! Aretha Franklin, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Yoko Ono, Cher and Loretta Lynn are all, if I’m not mistaken, still performing, and are all in their 70s or 80s. If the music is good, there will always be an audience. I encourage you to book a show and simply enjoy performing without worrying who’s NOT there, but rather celebrating the ones who do show up, however many. Us “older” folks may draw smaller crowds than some young stud or studette, but we do tend to draw “quality” attendees who are there for the MUSIC, not the image. Best to you!

      • Glennie Scott

        I appreciate your words to Debbie – and as you might see I completely agree. Are you performing any songs of the 2000’s that seem to have lasting and cross-generational quality? Or are you strictly a do-your-own-thing performer? I ask because I would really like to update my repertoire by adding something beyond Frozen and City of Stars … I

      • Glennie Scott

        I appreciate your words to Debbie – and as you might see I completely agree. Are you performing any songs of the 2000’s that seem to have lasting and cross-generational quality? Or are you strictly a do-your-own-thing performer? I ask because I would really like to update my repertoire by adding something beyond Frozen and City of Stars … I

  • I’m 59 this year and have recorded over 500 songs in 3 years,mostly covers of the greats from the 60’s to now in Pentultima. Rock On old timers!!!:)

  • Karen Thornton

    I love this, thanks for writing this. I turn 56 this year and have been a gigging musician for years and put out my first record just 2 years ago and just recorded another in January. For the first time in a long time I’m really enjoying performing because the motivation is coming from such a different place than it was 35 years ago. You are right, there are different audiences and different venues. I love playing in small intimate rooms where people actually come to listen and age is not a factor and those venues are out there. It’s good to be creative at any age, it feeds our souls.

  • Berington Van Campen

    All very true. As far as WHEN something was recorded, it’s completely irrelevant if the song & recording are GOOD. If it sounds dated, “very 80s” or or something like that, then maybe it WOULD be a good idea to update your recording – and FUN! But NOT to please any particular audience or “demographic” – only to optimize your chances of grabbing a WIDER audience, of any & ALL ages. I’ve often recorded singers for commercials, etc., who say they want to be “another Madonna, Rhianna, Beyonce…” you name it. I ask them why. They LOVE them! I say, “Okay, but they’re already DOING it… you’ll never be better at what THEY do than they are, but THEY could never be better at being YOU. So BE YOURSELF!” The same goes with the “age” of a song. If it’s good, it’ll BE good, and will be good for any listener who identifies with it. Hey, a classic example: 2 of the Beatles are sadly gone, as is Bach, but their music will ALWAYS work, including with young people who’ve never even SEEN an LP! It’s the power of the music, NOT the age of the creator, OR the recording artist! Get OUT there & DO it!

  • Don LaValley

    I am 64 years old, but I feel like 30 years old when I’m writing new songs in my studio. I admit, I’ve had my ups and downs in the music business. There are some days I hate everything. Funny, there’s a song called that if I remember. I have spent money in recording studios in Nashville, #3 on the charts, and I have paid the toll on the music road many times like so many have. I feel some days I haven’t done anything right. I still get frustrated feeling nothing is going right. But, I keep trying and playing, putting my songs on websites and trying to get listeners to hear my music. I can say I get a lot of complements which I appreciate. There are days I don’t even want to go in my studio, but, that doesn’t last very long. I believe there are many good writer/artists out there that are lost in the closet that are good enough to have great hits. It’s the way they are marketing that is holding them down as a prisoner. Never give up!!!!!! Good luck to all of you in your music ventures!
    Don Lavalley Music.

  • Kristin Center

    Nice, Chris! Super empowering. I say even while you’re still young get in the mindset of “the older the better.” Then you can really feel comfortable concentrating on your craft instead of stressing about inevitable aging.

  • Michael Popienko

    There you go man keep as cool as you can! Face miles of files with smiles and this riles them to believe that you’ve perceived the web they’ve weaved!! Great article Chris!! I love it and thanks for sharing. I hear you loud and clear and will think about the house concert stuff. Great stuff! I just finished my 10 year project “Being a Baby Boomer” and it feels great!! Hope to do some public singing/home concerts soon. Got to polish up my vocals a bit and go from there. The folks at CD Baby have been great I appreciate yall what you do for us commoners! LOL aka…old folks! My view on subject is right on with yours. I feel the Beatlesque connection big time when I write so much so and their title names seems to make its way in all the time. And since I love John Lennon the most… his titles appear Nowhere Man, Ticket to Ride in this tune. https://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=1SkbU5ifjZw

  • J. Wolfman

    I personally think that age matters less in music now than it probably ever has.

    Back in the 80s record labels would have laughed at people like Adele or Susan Boyle focusing on their image while completely ignoring their talent, and well, they’ve both sold millions of albums now.

    If anything after all the manufactured artists we’ve had ever since the 80s I think people wanna hear “the real deal” again, no matter if the artist is 40, 45, 50, 55 etc. After all, what does it matter? Only the music does.

    Look at bands like Metallica or Black Sabbath. NO ONE out there is saying they’re too old to do what they do. No one is even suggesting that, quite the contrary people are saddened that Black Sabbath are calling it quits. So there you have it! 😉

  • Rebecca Parks

    Older listeners buy and even stream more music. The music biz tends to assume that older listeners don’t want to hear anything new, but as an older performer I can tell you that this is not the case. Older listeners just want to hear music that addresses their concerns, and much of the new music they hear on the radio addresses teenage concerns, so they aren’t interested.

    But in defense of the music biz’s obsession with youth, for an artist to make it requires a punishing touring schedule, and it helps if the artist and their fans are unencumbered by demanding jobs, mortgages, health issues, and most especially children to raise. It’s not impossible for an older artist to make it, but it’s more difficult for practical reasons even in the absence of ageism.

    • Tom Hipps

      Spot on about older fans actually BUYING more music. I also perform earlier in the evening these days if at all possible. My crowd simply doesn’t stay out as late any more. When I put together a show with multiple acts, my band almost always goes first or second, rather than going on last at 11pm or later, even though we’re “headlining”. We’d rather appear to be the openers, play for more people, and let our crowd get home at a decent hour than take our “rightful” place at the end of the night. (Some artists may have to swallow a bit of pride to do this, of course:)

  • Please focus an episode of the podcast on this!

  • True. Despite all the difficulties, I suppose there’s a freedom in reaching a point where you’re doing music for yourself first.

  • Haha. Exactly. There’s a bit of that at Folk Alliance too: the teen bluegrass prodigy singing about hard livin’ and decades of regret. Age certainly helps in that regard. Also, great tips on how to set yourself up for a sustainable life in music. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Sure thing. Glad it was helpful. Thanks for reading.

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    • Alias Jim Wirth

      Right now all I can do is subscribe to your YouTube channel, which I will do. I am not involved with social media at this time. I intend to join Spotify, in the near future, though.

  • I definitely didn’t mean to imply in my article that ageism doesn’t exist. It was more a wish that it DIDN’T exist, while suggesting that it’s possible to still find (or maintain) success in your 40s, 50s, 60s, etc.

    I noticed about ten years ago (when I was still in my 20s) that my most ardent supporters were all older than me. It was a hard truth to admit that my music didn’t really connect with younger audiences, but then, when I thought about it more: of course it doesn’t! I’m influenced more by older songwriters anyway. Once I had that realization, things became a little more focused. I played more rewarding (and less fussy) gigs at smaller listening venues instead of playing the hip rock clubs. And older audiences have more $$, which helps in obvious ways.

    Anyway, I guess I’m saying this because you mentioned that you felt like your existing older crowd might be drying up a bit. But I bet a slightly younger audience (people in their 40s and 50s) have matured past the place where they need their music to be made by youngsters… and maybe you can find some connection there?

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  • Nice! Prolific. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Amen.

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  • I suppose you’re right. But if it’s something she’s self-conscious about already, I don’t think she HAS to address the time between recording and release.

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  • That would be one hell of a genre leap. Haha. And yes, I suppose it’d be worth changing band names at that point. Thanks for commenting.

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  • Hi Ernest,

    Beatlesque musicians unite! Thanks for reading and commenting. Glad you liked the article, and pop-rock on.

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  • That’s so awesome. Way to be bold about it. I’m happy that your audience was receptive and supportive. Thanks for commenting!

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  • The good news it that if your fans accept your age, you don’t need the industry to. That’s a sign that you can maintain a fanbase regardless of your age, and maybe you bypass the need for industry help or approval?

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  • What about adding some more contemporary songs to your repertoire, but arranging them in such a way so they fit stylistically with the older material you usually play. Like, a retro version… whatever is cool these days?

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  • Yep. Good luck helps too. But it’s always good to be realistic, as you say. Hope for something big; except something… less big.

    I appreciate you commenting and sharing your thoughts.

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  • Great to hear from someone who’s not aiming to be the star performer, but happy to write “in the background” (which is perhaps a bad way to put it, since the song itself is so vital). Thanks for commenting.

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  • That’s great. Another example of the importance of never giving up on your old catalog, and not letting yourself get (too) tired of performing your older material. Thanks for sharing.

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  • What about performing solo (voice and guitar) most of the time, but paying some good players in your area to back you up whenever you have a bigger show?

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    • Donnie M

      I’ve always played with a band. However, I sang to a backing track at a Yale ministry coffeehouse, about two months ago. I was terrified at first, but, I muscled my way through the first verse of my latest song, and then was a bit more relaxed. When I finished, people (more than 50 were there, I’d say) clapped AND cheered ! It was really a confirmation and strengthening from God. I’ve been asking some friends from church if they’d do an “unplugged” style show with me, when God provides another chance. They say they are interested.

  • Right? I feel like I’m writing WAY better material now than the stuff I put out years ago. I’m “proud” of that old stuff (in theory), but I’d much rather perform the stuff I’m writing today. And like you say, there will always be the rare artists that arrive on the scene as massive creative forces from a young age. Doesn’t mean the great stuff that’s being written by older people that matured in their creativity is any less vital or worthy of listeners. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  • I know you have to slow down a bit (or altogether) when you have a kid, start raising a family, get added responsibilities in the day job, etc. I don’t mean to say “keep at it!” in the face of reality, just for the sake of keeping at it. But for people who determine they still need to make music in order to feel fulfilled in life, there’s definitely hope out there for finding a receptive audience/community.

    Thanks for commenting!

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  • Right?! I played 2nd guitar as a hired-gun in a band made up of players who each had 15-30 years on me. In the span of two years I made as much progress in my playing as I had in the previous ten. So good to play with folks who challenge you.

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  • I too water the garden. I think it’s very hip. ; )

    Also, not pandering is the most hip. I’m glad you’re making the music your feel inspired to make, regardless of how well you can market it to younger audiences.

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  • That’s so great. Congrats on the radio success. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Awesome. Thanks so much for sharing, Tom.

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  • You’re not alone in the “senseless” insecurity. Glad you found some relief here. And wishing you the best in your music career, life, parenting, adventures.

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  • I suggest don´t overthink all this … Music & passion never asks your age. I know i´ll continue songwriting, producing and playing live till I die. So… enjoy the ride.

    By the way… I´m trying to verify my Spotify artist page and i need just 80 more followers. ¿Can you help me with my ride? Let me know your link and I´ll follow you too!
    https://open.spotify.com/artist/4lB64uKibLAvCstyl49lS2

    Tnx!

  • I don’t know if the insecurity is senseless. There’s definitely a reason why so many people have, from time to time, been insecure about their age. But there are opportunities out there regardless of your age; you just have to find the right ways to make sure age isn’t an obstacle. Glad the article was helpful. Thanks for reading and sharing your perspective.

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  • I don’t know if the insecurity is senseless. There’s definitely a reason why so many people have, from time to time, been insecure about their age. But there are opportunities out there regardless of your age; you just have to find the right ways to make sure age isn’t an obstacle. Glad the article was helpful. Thanks for reading and sharing your perspective.

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  • I don’t know if you need to worry about melody so much, since you could alter the melody to be more catchy or sophisticated or whatever, based on your need. I think it’d be good to focus on a song that you think has lyrics you wouldn’t be ashamed to deliver, given that you re-arrange the music to suit your style. As an example, I play Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” sometimes in a really slow and folky way, and I bookend it with the Neil Young/Emylou Harris song “Wrecking Ball.” In that context, the lyrics — which admittedly, are kinda intentionally naive and YOLO — seem more like a sad reminiscence of youth, rather than a present celebration of it. Not sure what your lyrical tastes are, but I think bands like Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, and Father John Misty have good lyrics. If you’re going for pop stuff, it’s definitely gonna be slim pickins’, but Robyn is decent. The weightiest lyrics are probably in hip-hop (not necessarily pop hip-hop though): Kendrick Lamar, for instance. But a lot of that music is probably difficult to translate into your genre. Going back to big pop hits, sometimes it’s okay just to play a song you know is dumb but fun. Especially if you deliver with a smile, everyone will be in on the joke with you. Just some thoughts! Let me know what you end up doing.

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  • That sucks. “Venues want young artists” seems a little broad to me. Plenty of venues want good artists. Other venues want artists who can draw a crowd. Others want a drinking crowd specifically. None of those things depends on age. In fact, some of the local bands that have a consistent draw (and drinkers too) are in their 50s and 60s.

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  • Debbie Zepick

    Thanks for being an inspiration!!!

  • Debbie Zepick

    Thanks for being an inspiration!!!

    • Glennie Scott

      I hope I really am … we give up a lot to pursue our passion – hopefully the payback is worthwhile, even if not what one might have hoped for in one’s youth. I truly love making music – however, wherever – and I love the special bond that happens with other musicians – the ones who get what you’re trying to do and support your efforts even if their own “ears” are different… and I especially love the audiences,though small they are eager & loyal…they make me feel like my life has purpose. I hope I never have to quit!
      Tell me about your CD’s… I’d like to hear 1)what they consist of and 2) why you made them and 3)how you followed with them. I’ve always just been happy if I recouped my costs … and gave a few people something different and unique to hear. My most successful (if one can call selling a few hundred a success) CD was a Christmas concept. It will be interesting to see what happens with the one that’s cooking right now … it’s such a new world for me as an independent … it’s like having a baby but you don’t know who’s going to parent it or love it – heart/mind/gut-wrenching!

    • Glennie Scott

      I hope I really am … we give up a lot to pursue our passion – hopefully the payback is worthwhile, even if not what one might have hoped for in one’s youth. I truly love making music – however, wherever – and I love the special bond that happens with other musicians – the ones who get what you’re trying to do and support your efforts even if their own “ears” are different… and I especially love the audiences,though small they are eager & loyal…they make me feel like my life has purpose. I hope I never have to quit!
      Tell me about your CD’s… I’d like to hear 1)what they consist of and 2) why you made them and 3)how you followed with them. I’ve always just been happy if I recouped my costs … and gave a few people something different and unique to hear. My most successful (if one can call selling a few hundred a success) CD was a Christmas concept. It will be interesting to see what happens with the one that’s cooking right now … it’s such a new world for me as an independent … it’s like having a baby but you don’t know who’s going to parent it or love it – heart/mind/gut-wrenching!

  • Glennie Scott

    Wow, Alley, you are really into the online discussions – I’m impressed, but wonder where you get the time. Maybe I just type slower? Carole King & Nina Simone I can do – a little Sarah McLaughlin but never had a request for it. But I have had a request for something by Prince (the day he died), which seemed a little strange to me. Or if ask for ABBA (interesting because I played in Sweden for 3 years and they never asked for ABBA, but I do play a couple of their tunes. I do Roberta Flack, Melissa Manchester, Bette Midler, and much more – not meaning to sound “braggy” but I have a repertoire of about 3500 songs off the top of my head – and can use lead sheets for most things beyond that. But I’m not a male voice, nor am I a group, nor am I a rock & roller, though I can play fairly decent blues, do some comedy, and at the retirement homes I know what they want to hear – which I agree are the best audiences ever. But I also play at a restaurant that is in the middle of a residential area that is widely diverse in ages, ethnicity, etc. What I’d really love to be guided toward are those songs of the last 25 years which truly made it into the general public’s consciousness. Obscurity is not what has kept me working for 50 years – I think of songs like Unchained Melody or What a Wonderful World that transcended several generations, perhaps because they were used in movies … but I really don’t know how or what to play to please 35-year-olds that the 55-year-olds will also recognize. Ergo, I have a problem. Any suggestions? I’m sick to death of playing the score of Phantom of the Opera (though happy to do so when asked with a smile – and a tip doesn’t hurt either 🙂 …

  • Glennie Scott

    Wow, Alley, you are really into the online discussions – I’m impressed, but wonder where you get the time. Maybe I just type slower? Carole King & Nina Simone I can do – a little Sarah McLaughlin but never had a request for it. But I have had a request for something by Prince (the day he died), which seemed a little strange to me. Or if ask for ABBA (interesting because I played in Sweden for 3 years and they never asked for ABBA, but I do play a couple of their tunes. I do Roberta Flack, Melissa Manchester, Bette Midler, and much more – not meaning to sound “braggy” but I have a repertoire of about 3500 songs off the top of my head – and can use lead sheets for most things beyond that. But I’m not a male voice, nor am I a group, nor am I a rock & roller, though I can play fairly decent blues, do some comedy, and at the retirement homes I know what they want to hear – which I agree are the best audiences ever. But I also play at a restaurant that is in the middle of a residential area that is widely diverse in ages, ethnicity, etc. What I’d really love to be guided toward are those songs of the last 25 years which truly made it into the general public’s consciousness. Obscurity is not what has kept me working for 50 years – I think of songs like Unchained Melody or What a Wonderful World that transcended several generations, perhaps because they were used in movies … but I really don’t know how or what to play to please 35-year-olds that the 55-year-olds will also recognize. Ergo, I have a problem. Any suggestions? I’m sick to death of playing the score of Phantom of the Opera (though happy to do so when asked with a smile – and a tip doesn’t hurt either 🙂 …

    • Ian Olsen

      Sting, every breath u take, material written by Sia, shes worked for many recent artists, a girl named Lorde, 10,000 maniacs, madona, and there are soooooooo many male songs your fine doing, gender means ZERO these days. btw greetings from southern sweden;), im in Vittsjö (Skåne) Just skip through lists of good songs from the past 20 and you will know what you should sing cuz you just follow your heart, thats what people care most about i think, or hope.

      • Steve Low

        It doesn’t really matter the age of the song – as you do your own version of it. I’m 60 and still play live – originals and covers – I cover songs from the 1950s through to today: there’s good songs in every decade.

  • wes pohl

    Great discussion. It’s an issue that gets into the head of most older musicians I suspect. I have loved writing and playing music my whole life, and I believe some of my best songwriting has happened more recently (I am fifty now). I needed to live a little while to be able to craft the songs I am making now. I don’t make my living from music, and for that I am grateful, because I don’t have to worry about commercial viability. My band and I create what feels good for us. We like it that way, and it allows us to get creative without too much pressure to sell. When I was younger I always envisioned I would have to become a folk or country artist as I got older, as if that was the natural path. I have not succumbed to that, I am still rocking! However, at gigs sometimes I feel old if the crowd is young. But sometimes I feel like a kid – We just rolled out our website (erwinvesper.com) and I had a University student email me to say “your band’s sound is dope” – and that made my day. But that would have given me just as much of a smile when I was 25 as it does now.

  • Janet Robinson-cornell

    I AM 75 + got an indie label started 7 years ago my partner is now 41 we are signing new artist i so times go to the studios when of my guys is recording and they always want to know how I got into this business.FIND something you love and JUST DO IT !!! cause AGE AIN”T NOTHING BUT A NUMBER!!!!

  • Janet Robinson-cornell

    AGE AINT NOTHING BUT A NUMBER !it has nothing to do with your skills or your talent! Just remember if you dont use it you lose it!!

  • Thank you!!!

  • Legpuppy

    if you want to get your music on pop stations then you best be under 25. If you want to play live and use your life experience to create an intense live show without caring what people think of u then its much cooler to be older!

  • Don LaValley

    I give anyone all the credit that never gives up enjoying what they love to do no matter what your age. I have performed nationally and locally for many years. I have worked with Liberty Records back in the 70’s and have been fortunate to have a #3 on the charts that held for many weeks. I am performing as a solo act now. I play and record all my background music myself in my studio. With that I play lead guitar and sing w/harmony. I enjoy every moment of it. Yes music can be frustrating at times, but once a musician always a musician. Sorry to see there are not as many clubs to perform in like there was in the 70’s thru the 90’s. I perform country/variety. Mostly top 40 classics. Miss those days. Good luck to all! Feel free to check out Don Lavalley Music on soundcloud. My 1st album: SOMETHING HOT.