Too old for Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, is back again to give you some tips on overcoming age discrimination in the music business. After a certain age you can’t become a police officer, join the military, or become a flight attendant, but in the music business things can be a bit different. After the age of 25, some find it difficult to get a record deal, but if you’re open minded and proactive you can find success in the industry. Here are Bobby’s thoughts!  (By the way, this article originally appeared on the Indie Music Bands blog several years ago, but Bobby’s words are just as relevant today!)


00139915Sign With A Major?
Major labels make up the majority of commercial recordings sold in the United States. As of this writing, the three largest record companies (or three majors) are Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group. Each major is also part of larger corporations that run a system of distribution channels, regional offices, international divisions, and other music business companies. Therefore, bottom line profits and corporate reporting are of primary concern—and reps most typically seek younger more “commercially viable” artists who can theoretically ensure a faster return on their investment. Additionally, the benefit of seeking younger acts is that if successful, they could potentially reap a return on the label’s investment for several years to come.

“It’s a young man’s game,” said one A&R representative who wishes to remain anonymous. “We look for artists from age 15 to 25. It may seen harsh, but it doesn’t makes sense to invest an older race horse when you can get the younger thoroughbred crossing the winner’s line for years to come.”

Unless a dramatic shift takes place in the industry in the next few years (which is very possible—more on this later), then seeking a major label deal may obviously not be the wisest focus for more adult artists: plan and simple.

Go Independent
Independent record companies (also called indies) are in majority not owned or controlled by the majors, and are generally distributed by smaller regional distributors. With less overhead and investment risk, indies are more open to signing less mainstream and perhaps more adult artists than the major record companies.

Said one indie rep in a recent music connection A&R poll conducted in 2003, “We tend to stay away from age discrimination. I look to the music first and people who have maturity and a strong business sense. Of course they must still have a marketable image even when they’re older—but it’s the professional performers who keep their health and image a priority and can convince the masses they’re younger than their years. If they have talent and look the part, then who cares how old they are.”

Indies may not just be more open to signing more adult artists, but also older “brands” or “genres” of music. Indies are known to be the sanctuary (literally) for veteran artists are were once successful and no longer can find a home on a the majors. Case in point, Sanctuary records (formerly CMJ) made a name for themselves by signing several of the hard rock bands that were once very popular in the 1980s. Surely, labels like Sanctuary aren’t trying to market to the masses nor do they have the budgets, but by signing artists who still have a modest (albeit dwindling) fan base and who are still willing to get out on the road and tour, a potential profit can be made for all parties involved.

Read the rest of the article HERE!!

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About HLPAPG

Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on March 22, 2016, in Music Industry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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