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age discrimination (ageism) in music


Eric VB

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I searched for these terms and only came up with this one hit . I'm sure this topic has come up many times before.

 

This topic inspired by the ageism discussion that recently came up in this thread .

 

No matter how old we are, our age seems to be holding us back in the music biz.

 

Sure, those in their golden years of 18-24 aren't complaining too much, but they may be distracted from pursuing music full time for a variety of reasons: college, lack of gear, too much partying, intimate relationships, etc.

 

Being under 18 and in the "era of the lawsuit" puts a lot of limitations on what you can and can't do. A friend of mine played in a wedding band when he was 12, but that was in a more innocent time. We played out in a school-sponsored band and my instructor said I was ready to gig, but surprisingly none of the bar bands gave me a call. :rolleyes: Child stars on the national scene always seem to be pimped by their "proud" parents (with cash cow dreams, no doubt). I played in garage bands in high school but we didn't have the imagination to make our own gigs so we never really did.

 

Once you're too old to make it nationally, you're often too old to even try out for the local bands that are trying to make it. (This was covered in the fist link above). In this week's weekly I see yet another typical ad, band looking for one more, must be "18-26".

 

Of course, in my golden years I seem to remember seeing ads the other way around. Everybody was looking for "experienced" musicians. While not ageism per se, how was an 18yo supposed to get bar-gigging experience in the first place? Again in the weekly before me I see one of these ads, looking for players "over 35".

 

As in the links above, there are some genres that are more age tolerant. But perhaps those aren't the genres featured at the majority of the bar venues? (At least in my town you can't fill a venue with drink-till-you-puke youngsters that ring up bar tabs that make the venue owner happy with country or jazz. YMMV.)

 

I know when I was of the golden age, my band posted ads to complete our line-up. We really didn't know how old we were willing to go and finally settled for 10 years older than ourselves as the upper limit. We had no idea, really, what to expect from "old" people. Our comfort zone, I think, ended at the +5 mark, as the people we socialized with were probably no more than 2 years plus or minus our age. Partying with people outside the comfort zone was just creepy.

 

Now on the other side of things there is a bit of a maturity gap in general. It's like when you're 18 and sitting at the kids table and everyone else there is 12 and younger. (I won't go into the topic of band members with kids and those without.)

 

Sure, these are generalizations, but that's what goes into those strict age limits of "18-26" and "over 35". (Try calling up the first group after you've just turned 27, or the latter if you're a few months away from 35.) It just may be that the group looking for a younger player are passing up on the guy/gal that completes them musicially. Same for the group looking for an older player. If you concentrate on the music, age just becomes a number.

 

Any thoughts? Stories to share?

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I don't disagree with you. What can you do? The only thing I can think of is start your own band and be the one calling the shots.

 

It's fairly easy to get one or two younger eager players to join a band run by more mature people. They know the score from the outset and are usually happy to be playing with high caliber musicians.

Moe

---

 

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Unfortunately, age is a factor in every aspect of the music business.

 

Record companies do not look for folks over 25 years old. Why?

 

The record buying public is 12-25 years old. They purchase based on how the artist "appeals" to them in addition to their music.

 

Folks over 25 years old have responsibilities and/or interests beyond buying records, watching videos and/or attending concerts every week.

 

A club owner cannot pay a band and depend on folks with careers, kids, spouses, mortgages, etc., drying up his bar 7 days a week.

 

Beyond that, even among musicians it is hard to overlook age within a band. What does a 25-year old have in common with a 45-year old beyond the music (maybe)?

 

The ability to "hang" is a very important aspect of band chemistry.

 

Unless cats REALLY want to play together, age is a factor.

 

In general, folks relate to one another on a musical and interpersonal level within their age range.

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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What a drag it is getting old...

 

I did what old keyboard players are supposed to do - I went and got a church gig. "My public" seems to be fine with me being 50+, LOL.

I played in an 8 piece horn band. We would often get bored. So...three words:

"Tower of Polka." - Calumet

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Yep, the upside to both jazz and church music is that they are timeless and ageless. :)

 

In order to circumvent the "industry" barriers, musicians have to continue taking matters into their own hands both literally and figuratively. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I guess my experience may be a little unique then. I started playing full time professionally at 17 working for a 51 year old bandleader/guitar player/singer, the other guitarist was 20, the bass player was 44 and the drummer was 35. It was a blues/RnB band. I guess i've rarely played in groups with guys all my own age since high school.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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Originally posted by Jazzwee:

That's why there's a plus in jazz. Everyone's old.

:thu:

 

As keyboard players we can work well into our 90's though moving the P250 might prove a problem.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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I write and record my own music, which means if I ever wanted to play shows and possibly even tour, I'd need to put together a band "for hire", as it were. In this circumstance, I would have no problems with hiring across age spans, as long as they liked my music and were willing to do it justice. Heck, I'm 30, and if the opportunity for me to play my own music at shows came up, Daf would be the first one I'd call. :thu: (Whether he'd join is completely up to him, though, of course. ;) ) I guess that's the difference between being a "real" band as opposed to a guy with a group of "hired guns" behind him.

 

I'm sure Steve Nathan is a little older than most of the pretty young starletts he's played for. Only a little, though. ;)

Darren Landrum
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Older musicians will use younger cats because of their availability, drive, energy, determination, hunger, etc.

 

This is the norm and how musical knowledge is passed down especially in jazz.

 

OTOH, rarely is it the other way around where younger cats bring older cats into the fold relying on their knowledge, experience, wisdom, etc.

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I think it's no that strange. Usually playing in the rock band you're part of some image, group or whatever.

Besides older, not always means better so it can be a source of conflicts too.

 

Jazzwee is right, I love jazz among the other things

for that age don't matter, just what you play..

.

♫♫♫ motif XS6, RD700GX
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I agree with Kanker and Darren. I've been gigging with cats from teens to ones in their 80s in various jazz, classical, gospel, and R&B venues without any problems. I'll play with anyone who's serious--even to play stuff I typically don't play. That's how I learn new stuff and new techniques. Besides, it's often easier to play with the older guys, because they're often more patient, and they've always got interesting stories to share.

 

Let's face it, the recording companies don't work with us musicians for altruistic reasons; they're in the business of making and selling more CDs. Some of the execs at the various recording companies prefer to work with younger talents, because they're often cheaper, they often come with less baggage, and they usually don't gripe about how they could have gotten a better ______ (fill it in with whatever you like) if they had gone with another deal instead.

 

I think Darren also hit the nail on the head with both of his suggestions: 1) record your own stuff, and 2) form your own band. How many people do you know of stopped listening to the Rolling Stone when Mick and the crew reached their 50s and 60s? There are teens that still rock out to their tunes. Rappers and other Hip Hop artists still keep remixing in some of George Clinton's funky grooves, because there ain't no funk like P-Funk! James Brown has been keeping it funky for over 50 years; I still haven't gotten enough of it--and neither have many others--especially the Rappers.

 

My point is people like good music, and they'll buy/watch it if we make it available to them. Besides, the recording companies are starting to lose more and more talent to indie labels and musicians who opt to produce themselves. Check this out: http://www.eqmag.com/story.asp?sectioncode=36&storycode=15646.

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I'll comment here as I believe it was my post on auditions that influenced the orginal writer in this thread.

 

Many good points here about age and music.

 

Yes, the pop music business, a franchise of the pop culture business, is all about youth. This is where discrimination occurs, if it occurs at all. But pop music is not really about music, so much as it's about style and performance. Sometimes there's good music playing behind a "star", and often it's an older fellow like Steve Nathan who's playing it.

 

I'm a musician and and never claimed to be a star, as I consider a star to be a performer. Yes, Sir Elton may be a pretty good piano player, but he's a essentially a showman and not a musician.

 

I don't mean to get anyone angry so I'll leave the discussion between musicians vs. performers for another thread.

 

One more anecdote, and then I'll go have dinner. I play jazz and old-style R&B, and lately I've become involved with a weekly blues jam that is a lot of fun for me, and it often attracts quality players. At a session a couple of weeks ago, we had two young brothers show up, ages 16 and 13, a guitarist and drummer, who wanted to play a tune with us. I can't remember which song they prepared, but it was appropriate, and we played it and it was OK most of the time.

 

We then had them join us on Mustang Sally, and I'm not sure if they had ever heard of Wilson Pickett, but by the end, they were in the groove.

 

And no, we're not going to start a band with them, because as some have pointed out it really isn't appropriate. We probably wouldn't get very far talking about music with these boys.

 

But for those 10 minutes or so, we were in the same band, and maybe that's what it's all about. We didn't talk about music, but we communicated musically, and I'm sure most here understand the difference.

regards,

 

--kwgm

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I've played with very talented fellows younger and older than me and also not so talented in all ages too. :D

 

As long as one doesn't need a rocking chair to play, I guess I can't discriminate. No wait, I once saw Dave Brubeck in Montreal sitting on a tall chair, probably because he had back problems then, but he played so great that night, geez no, there's really no age discrimination possible in music. :)

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In the band I was most recently in, we were all around 20 and our guitarist, we can only assume, was around 60 (he would never tell anyone exactly how old he was). AND HE COULD SHRED.... or play slowly, whatever he did, it was always very tasteful. We all thought it was great and never had an issue with it, and he didn't seem to have any problem playing with us. We made alot of good music together and that's all that mattered.
Ack ACK ack acK ACK ACK!!
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