Too Old To Play Music

Graffiti wall

A few months ago I attended a heavy music industry event run by Vintage Physics Audio called, ‘Metal Uncovered: An Expert’s Guide to Touring.”  Held at Rolling Stock Recording Rooms in Collingwood, a panel of music industry experts gave insight into touring both in Australia and overseas.  It was a killer evening with some damn juicy information, which I plan to make a video about soon!

But there was something else the experts touched on briefly which really struck a chord.  It was a story of a 24 year old woman who was contemplating giving up on her music career because she thought she was getting, “Too old.”

It’s a question I personally have asked myself in the past and I know many of my muso friends have as well.

Am I too old to keep pursuing music?

You see, like many of the musicians I know, I’ve been playing in bands since early high school and for the majority of my years as a professional musician I always told myself that if I got to the age of 25 and hadn’t “made it” (whatever that means), I’d quit.  Settle down and have a family and live a “normal life,” (again, whatever that means).

Aside from being a teenager and thinking mid-20s was really old (lol), I was influenced by the barrage of rock star biographies (‘The Dirt’ by Motley Crue, ‘Pleasure and Pain’ by Chrissy Amphlette to name a few) that were hitting the bookstores around the same time.  I know I’m not the only one who’s perspective on music, for better or worse, was influenced by the rebellious lives of musicians that once ruled both the charts and the world…all before their 25th birthday.

school of rock hangover gif

So when I turned 21 I turned to the manager of my then-brand-new-band and declared, “I want to be signed by the time I’m 23, just like Chrissy Amphlett.”  Of course that didn’t happen and as my mid-20s crept closer I watched as one by one, the peers I started this musical journey with- all of whom were amazing musicians and humans – started quitting music.

It’s obviously a pressure a lot of musicians feel.  But as I’ve learned in the past few years as I reached the late 20s I dreaded so much, it’s a thought that is absolutely, positively incorrect.

One of my favourite resources for completely debunking this fear is called, ‘How to Make It In the New Music Business,’ by Ari Herstand.  

In the book, Ari states, “Age has no correlation with success,” before listing off a bunch of famous artists and the ages they, “made it.”  Did you know –

  • Debbie Harry was 31 when Blondie released her first album
  • Joe Satriani didn’t release his first album until he was 30
  • Christine McVee of Fleetwood Mac was 34 when ‘Rumours’ was released
  • Louie Armstrong was 64 when his best-selling album, ‘Hello Dolly’ was released
  • Daniel Powter’s hit, ‘Bad Day’ came out when he was 34.
  • Pharrell was 40 when ‘Happy’ took over the world
  • Butch Vig was 36 when he produced Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ and it wasn’t until he was 40 when his own band, Garbage, released their chart-topping album.

…and some of my own facts

  • Maria Brink, vocalist of ‘In This Moment’ is 40 years old.   She started the band when she was 27 and it’s only going from strength to strength (most of my friends had quit music entirely by 27)
  • Ash Costello of New Years Day is 33 years old and her band – formed in 2005 – are only just starting to blow up now.
  • When I interviewed Arch Enemy bassist, Sharlee D’Angelo (who is 45), at Download Festival earlier this year, he stated that although the band have been going for two decades, they’ve only just started to see real success in the last 4 years!
Female Metal Vocalist Maria Brink Gif In thIs Moment
Maria Brink – In This Moment

The panel also couldn’t have made it clearer that age is not the barrier we think it is.  Aside from the fact that with age comes a higher level of knowledge and expertise, success and building a fanbase – especially in 2018 where record companies don’t have the same sway they used to – just does not happen overnight!  In fact, they all agreed that it takes around 10 years for a band to finally break through.

Looking back at my personal musical journey, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’m glad I didn’t, “make it,” before I knew what I know now about the industry.  Before I found my own sound and found myself.

The whole reason I started posting music-industry related videos on YouTube, and now this business working with bands on their social media and marketing strategies – hell, the whole reason I’m still pursuing music myself – is to empower more musicians and stop more talented people from  not sharing their message with the world.

The best way to evoke change is to lead by example.  Now go lead.

Peace out!
x Monica

PS. If you’re a band looking to record, you can check out the rad Vintage Physics Audio right here!

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