30 Going on Dead: The Biggest Miss in the Music Industry
If you talk to people your parents age, or your grandparents age, they will tell you that the best music was Doo-wop. 80's Rock. Disco. Every generation feels that the next generation of music just doesn't match up. I always wondered what people who loved songs like "Who Put the Bomp?" thought about songs like "Le Freak." My grandmother grew up doing the Lindy and loved Frank Sinatra, but she was also a HUGE Rolling Stones fan, adores Hall & Oates and Rod Stewart, and owns every single Michael Jackson album. She's all over the place, but she and a few others passed down their wide range of musical taste and appreciation to me.
I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Madonna, Shania Twain, The Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, The Big Chill Soundtrack, The Beatles, Savage Garden, Mariah Carey and Queen--just to name a few cassettes we had in the car. But we also had the radio, and that is how diverse it used to be. Then came a time where I was old enough to find my own favorite artists, and I started to fall in love with Hanson, *NSYNC, The Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Destiny's Child. But again, there was the radio (and MTV and VH1). The radio could go from Britney Spears to The Goo Goo Dolls, then from Paula Cole to Eminem in less than one hour, and it wasn't chaotic or overwhelming. It was euphoric.
The best years of our lives...the ones we always think back on with a smile on our faces and a longing to have them back, are the years of our youth--our childhood and teenage years. We were free from the world. We didn't have to worry about crime, jobs, taxes, politics, bills, etc. We only worried about who cheated in manhunt and if we could have a second cookie. What accompanies these amazing memories? The music. We grew up with a lot of our artists, whether they continued on past our days of playing paddy-cake on the bus, or started out at our high school homecoming dance. So naturally, when they continue to make music, we continue to enjoy it. And then we get to a certain age where they take a break or retire, and we look for that next new artist to listen to and fall in love with. Until you get closer to your 30's and new artists are much younger, and the music is, well...different.
I keep hearing people around 28 years-old and up saying that today's music sucks. I myself have participated in this conversation, and one day I finally just laughed. 'Gosh, I sound like my grandparents.' It's like a genetic cycle. But maybe it doesn't necessarily suck, we just don't understand it. And maybe we don't understand it because we can't relate to it. I for one cannot relate to the average 16-24 year old. I grew up playing outside and they grew up playing on an iPad. Today's music that's on the radio appeals mostly to the younger generation of listeners, whereas in 1999 there was a song for every age on the radio. Now there's satellite radio and streaming where there's a station for every mood and every genre. It's smart, but a bit divisive. In 30-40 years from now will these young listeners have the wide range of musical taste that my grandmother has?
I thought about something Adele said in an interview when promoting her latest album 30. She said “If everyone’s making music for the TikTok, who’s making music for my generation? Who’s making the music for my peers?" She then goes on to say “I’d rather cater to people that are on my level in terms of the amount of time we’ve spent on Earth and all the things we’ve been through." She is on the money. All these social media apps and radio artists are catering to the ages of 28 and under. But what about 28 and up? There are still millions of Americans who love music and love their favorite artists, but would easily turn their ears to a new artist or song.
The entertainment industry loves to tell you that once you turn 30 you're dead. Done. Old. Finished. Before I turned 30 I saw black and kept trying to find ways to hit the rewind button. Why? Because I wanted to sing and perform and write music and I was told that 30-is-too-old-and-you'll-never-make-it after-that-so-just-give-up. Nice right? So what they're actually saying is that not only do I become more beautiful, smarter, nicer and wiser, but once I turn 30 I no longer appeal to tweens, teens and 20 year olds. That's fine, but that's also less than half of the population! I believe that there is a market for new artists who appeal to the 28+ club and would kill it on the world stage. And not just because I am one of them, but because there is so much more to write about when you get "older." I had more heartache and life changing experiences in my mid-twenties than I thought I did at 20 years old. And I am still living and going through shit. I think we still deserve new music and new artists we can relate to, and the music industry should really expand on this. Remember, this is the generation that took trips to the store to BUY MUSIC (that's my industry pitch of course).
Adele was speaking up and out for artists her age that may be struggling to be heard. We aren't going to grab the attention of the right people when we're targeting the wrong people. It's a huge miscommunication. They say that there's a song for everyone, but to completely disregard an entire generation who was well versed in multiple genres, artists, bands and talent as "old" and "forgettable" is a big miss. We deserve new music fit for our generation now.