music business

Age ain’t nothing but a number, or so the saying goes. Then how come every new rock star seems straight out of high school? If you have dreams of making it in the music business, then the inevitable passing of time can seem discouraging.

That said, there are two sides to every coin.

Younger musicians may have the benefit of time and energy, but they’re often broke and inexperienced. Older musicians may lack in the department of youthful vigor, but can easily compensate with experience and funds.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each, and then see how you can use your age to your advantage.

The Advantages of Being a Young Musician

There are many advantages to being young, which is why youth is so revered in our culture.

Some of the benefits of being a young musician are:

  • Time – you have many years ahead of you and can afford to make mistakes
  • Energy – you can study, work, practice, perform, and party all in the same day
  • Attractiveness – the music industry is always looking for the next young prodigy
  • Fewer commitments – chances are you’re living the child-free student life
  • Optimism and motivation – you’re driven and relentless in your pursuit of success
  • Mild hangovers – that’s if you have any at all

The Disadvantages of Being a Young Musician

Although being young comes with many advantages, many of them are dire necessities when considering the disadvantages.

Some of the downsides of being a young musician are:

  • Lack of experience – you don’t know anything, which means you’ll make a lot of mistakes
  • Naivete – the music industry is full of people looking to take advantage of your ambitions
  • Youth – yes, your youth may actually prevent you from being taken seriously
  • Lack of finances – age and income are positively correlated, which means you’re broke
  • Distractions – it can be hard to maintain focus when there are so many things you haven’t tried yet
  • Lack of direction – you might not have had time to find your voice and/or style yet

The Advantages of Being an Older Musician

After your vanity takes a hit from the emerging wrinkles and grey hairs, you’ll discover that what used to hold you back no longer does.

Some of the benefits of being an older musician are:

  • Experience – you’ve been around the block more than once and know how to avoid the pitfalls
  • Knowledge – your many hours of practice, performance, and research puts you in a much better position
  • Financial stability – you’re more likely to have a stable income and more money at your disposal to buy gear with
  • Focus and direction – you know who you are, what you like, what you want to do, and how you’re going to do it

The Disadvantages of Being an Older Musician

Unsurprisingly, many of the advantages you enjoyed in your youth are now disadvantages.

Some of the downsides of being an older musician are:

  • Less time – we don’t have forever to realize our dreams, and the clock is ticking
  • Less energy – three-day benders and couch-surfing is a thing of the past
  • More commitments – chances are you’ve got a family and mortgage to manage
  • Cynicism – you’re more likely to be disillusioned with the music industry

How to use your age to your advantage

Regardless of what stage you’re at, the secret to unlocking your potential is to know your strengths and weaknesses.

Money is a big issue in music. It costs money to buy equipment, hire rehearsal rooms, book travel and accommodation, invest in merchandise and online promotion, and so on. Older musicians can better afford to cover all these expenses, whereas younger musicians have the time and energy to save up for them. Time is also an essential component of success in music. It takes time to learn an instrument, gel with a band, and make connections in the industry. Younger musicians enjoy the benefit of having a lot of time on their hands, but that time needs to be invested properly. Older musicians will already know their instrument and have some connections to draw on.

The point is to put things in perspective and be mindful of how your age can either help or hinder your ambitions.

What are your experiences? Leave your comments below and let us know what you think!

Further Reading – Rock-star Daddy: Touring as a Parent