Have you wondered if you're too old to have a successful music career?
A lot of people seem to think if you hit a certain age, basically mid-20 onward, that you're too old to "make it" in the music industry, but is this true?
The truth is you are never too old to get started making music. The only exception is if you want to be a pop star and get signed to a major label. If that isn't you, then age is not a barrier at all to having success in the new music industry.
So, when does age matter and when doesn't age matter? What changes for you based on your age?
Age Only Matters If...
You want a major label deal in the pop genre.
If this is the case, then you probably need to be pretty young. A teenager or younger.
This is because of a variety of reasons, but they can basically be summed up in the fact that the old, legacy music industry views music artists as products.
Artists are products in the legacy music industry
Younger artists are more easily exploited, and they tend to attract a younger audience of listeners who also tend to be more loyal and obsessive to the point where they buy ALL the merch and just about everything that has to do with the band.
Labels will find artists who they think can make them a giant profit, and then turn them into stars (kinda like The Hunger Games without all the killing).
A great book that illustrates what the legacy music industry is like is "The Song Machine: Inside The Hit Factor".
It's an incredible book that outlines how the creation of hits came to be monopolized by a small group of writers and producers from Sweden, like Max Martin.
But it also shows how labels like to groom young artists to be the faces of uber-commercialized music that is written by teams of half a dozen or more writers.
The Song Machine
By John Seabrook
But so long as you don't want to be an over-commercialized pop star puppet controlled by the legacy music industry, you can absolutely make in the the NEW music industry.
Do You Want Fame Or To Make A Living?
What do you really want from your music career?
Do you want to have status and gain fame?
Or would you rather just be able to make a living from your music and build (relatively) small, loyal, following of fans who adore you and your music?
The reason I ask is because the latter is entirely possible and realistic for just about anyone of any age.
But the former, gaining fame, that's a long shot.
What The New Music Industry Makes Possible
The new music industry makes it possible for small independent artists like you and me to have success, and to actually make a full-time income from our music...
Even if no one outside of our micro music niche know who we are.
The key to success in the new music industry is to "niche-down" and find your "microgenre".
One you've identified your "microgenre", you now stand a chance of standing out and actually growing your fanbase.
As they say in the marketing world, "the riches are in the niches".
This is because you can serve a product (your music and the culture you create around your music) this very specifically caters to the tastes of fans in that microgenre.
You become a big fish in a small pond.
And this works because you only really need 1,000 "true fans" to create a six-figure income from your music.
A "true fan" or "superfan" is someone who is happy to spend at least $100 a year on your music and your brand.
How Things Used To Be
Before the internet, record labels were the gatekeepers blocking entrance to the music market.
If you wanted to get your music in front of listeners, you had to go through a label. And, in general, labels were looking for music that would appeal to the widest range of people so that they could maximize profits.
So if you want to follow the legacy music industry model, then you need to create a commercial style of music, and you need to get signed to a label.
In my view, this is not the best way to go, because you're competing with too many artists, and your odds of "making it" are slim.
What is the new music industry?
The NEW music industry is basically the democratization of the music industry.
No longer do you have to be beholden to a small group of oligarchs (labels) in order to deliver your product to market. You can take your music to market yourself.
What's more, there is no singular music market any more. Sure, you have the pop music industry, but then you have hundreds and hundreds of smaller music markets that you can tap into as a music artist.
The result is music is more diverse than ever, and there are more opportunities than ever for music artists...no matter your age.
In fact, for some microgenres, being older might actually be an advantage because the listeners are older. They can relate to you better that way.
There are also many small labels popping up all the time to serve these smaller music markets, so you can still get signed if you want, but you definitely no longer have to if you want to make a living.
Other Situations When Age Does Matter
Like I mentioned above, there are literally hundreds of microgenres that you can attempt to break out in, but all of these microgenres have their own cultures and their own unique listener demographics.
Some of these might prefer a younger artists, while others might prefer an older arts.
Some might not care at all.
Your job is to do your homework. Research the demographics of the microgenre that you want to enter, and see what you find.
In general, though, what matters more is your music. Are you making music that appears to the people and age ranges of people in that genre?
If so, you should be good to go.
How To Make A Living As An Indie Music Artist
The key to making a living as an indie music artist today in the new music industry is to think of yourself as an entrepreneur (or "Musicpreneur") and follow the strategies that the online business world is using to great success when it comes to marketing.
This boils down to just three things:
- 1Growing an audience
- 2Engaging that audience
- 3Monetizing that audience
First you need to grow a following, and that comes through releasing music, and growing your social media and email list.
From there, you have to then engage those followers and turn them into fans through regular follow-up and building a culture around your music.
Finally, once you have a big enough and engaged enough audience, you can sell them almost anything, and they'll buy it...
Provided it fits into your culture and is congruent with what you've been about up to that point in time.
If you want to learn more about how you can monetize your fans, then check out my blog post here on the 7 different streams of income indie artists can tap into.
How to rapidly grow your fanbase
Of course, before you can monetize, the first step is to put in the hard work of growing a following.
The good news is that there is a proven formula that successful indie artists are following to rapidly grow their fanbases, online, without touring.
You can download this 7-step fan-building formula for free by clicking below.
Get More Fans Fast!
Click below to download my free Fan-Building Formula, which will give you the 7 steps you need to master in order to create "Superfans" and make a living from your music.
I hope you got value from this post on if you're too old to make music, and found it encouraging.
If so, feel free to share, and let me know in the comments below: