You’ve got grey hair, you’re not coming in….
Is there ageism in music nowadays?
Good question and it’s something I see talked about a lot on social media. Is the music industry a young persons game, or is there still room for old timers?
Music for as long as I can remember (which is unfortunately a while), has always been about targeting the younger audience and in particular, young girls. Look at The Beatles, The Rolling Stones - you watch footage from them back in the 60’s and it predominantly shows young girls, swooning, screaming and fainting. That is who the music industry has been targeting, as they are normally very loyal to the artists they follow and purchase and listen to their music.
A lot of the time, I wonder if it’s just about the music, or if it’s the image that they are attracted towards. I think in some cases it is definitely both. I look at Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet from the 80’s. Screaming young girls, the image, but their music was good and a lot of male listeners liked them as well and some probably wanted to be them (given the attention they were getting).
But Richard, those type of bands are still popular today….
Yes, they are, but it’s because their fan base is still loyal to them and they know how to make good music. People still listen to music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s now, the album charts and streaming prove that. In that case it’s because the music transcends the image, it is endearing and part of your life growing up. That’s why you hold on to it so dear.
Will the fans of some of the boy and girl bands of the last 20 years still be listening to them into their 50’s and 60’s? - maybe, maybe not. There is still a pull for The Spice Girls and Take That, but the others, you don’t hear much about, other than when they try an I’ll-fated come back and then disappear again.
Why is that? - well it could be that the hold they had with their younger fans is not as strong anymore, or maybe the music just isn’t as timeless as they hoped it would be.
So where is the ageism coming from I hear you ask.
Well the media and the record companies of course.
They seem to think they need to push new artists into every nook and cranny of your life. They pop up everywhere, the same song, 40 times on the radio each day. They think if it becomes an ear worm they’ve got you. But the truth is, they need to do this, because if you actually stopped, listened and analysed the quality of the music and the artists, you might realise they are both fairly bland.
Record companies no longer want to take risks, so every part of a new artist is poured over and tweaked until they look and sound the same as everyone else that is releasing that type of music. They think this is what people want to hear. I beg to differ.
Older artists are still creating incredible music into their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, but they struggle to get heard. Even a huge name is now just a footnote on something like BBC Radio 2 and there is no chance of being heard on the ‘yoof’ stations of Radio 1 and Radio 6.
I’ve heard some of the music they champion and it’s either okay, or incredibly dull and like everything else coming out at the moment. You get the odd exception, but they are few and far between.
I then check out the independent scene online, whose music is only being played on online radio shows, or playlists/mixtapes and I think, why is this not getting a chance, it’s better than the boring music being played on national radio.
The answer could be to do with PR, or they don’t have the finances to play the game to be heard nationally. The other reason could be they are not the right demographic, including their age. These are not young hip, easy to mould kids. They are people with life experience, creating something they love and putting it out there, for others to hear and hopefully fall in love with as well.
In a fair world, both sets would be given a chance to be heard on an equal footing. But we don’t live in that kind of world and money still talks.
So, I will keep pushing great music amongst my peers, all whilst listening to the artists who are still kicking around from my era and those artists I think are worthy of my time and ears.
So if you get a chance to read this blog, please do me a favour and turn off the national radio and look online for the independent artists, who are creating some beautiful music and give them your time for a while.
Every little bit helps.
Till next time.