Youth has always been a component of popular music culture: Sinatra, Elvis, The Beatles, Madonna, Britney Spears, One Direction, Lorde — they all got their start well before the big THREE-O. And some of them were still in their teens!
But if youth is a prerequisite for success in the pop music business, well we’ve gotten used to plenty of exceptions to that rule throughout the years.
Celebrated songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Lucinda Williams, and Mary Gauthier didn’t really break through until their 30’s or 40’s. Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, Sharon Jones, Peaches, Thelonius Monk… the list goes on and on. Plenty of artists didn’t find their true voice, or record their best songs, or start to build a loyal following until the September of their years, to quote Ol’ Blue Eyes.
And these days, with the powers of home recording, web marketing, affordable video production, and global music distribution at your fingertips, you have just as much a chance to make money from your music at age 55 as you would at age 15.
Now becoming a “rock star?” “World famous?” A household name? Honestly, that may be a different story. But if that’s what you’re striving for I’d like to remind you that we’re a decade and a half into the 21st Century. Look around. Have you noticed there kinda AREN’T that many NEW rock stars these days anyway?
Instead, there’s a large musical Middle Class consisting of independent artists across every genre that are sustaining full-time careers from their music through concert fees, publishing royalties, music sales, streams, YouTube ad revenue, merch, and more.
Whether you’re in that group of musicians, working towards it, or just a hobbyist, in today’s music industry YOU get to decide what “making it” means. YOU get to define “success.”
Don’t believe me? Check out the more than 500 comments on our blog post “Are you too old to make it?” for proof that you can not only be taken seriously and create quality work in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and beyond — but you can also achieve success.
Make the music you love. Find the people that love your sound. Your audience is out there — so you should put yourself and your songs out there too, no matter how many candles are on your birthday cake.
If good things are happening in your musical life, we want to hear about it. Please share in the comments section below.
[Picture of guy holding guitar from Shutterstock.]