OPINION: Ageism in music

By ViX (Victoria Perks)

We can all rationalise that after a certain age it may not be in anyone’s best interest to become a fireman, policeman, soldier etc; but can we justify a cut-off age for a musician in the mainstream music biz?

 True, many have a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date; but if the product is tried, tested and still in good working order, is there any legitimate reason why musicians should be labelled with a ‘sell-by’ date?

Anyway, how old is TOO old? And too old for whom?

Are we so offended by the odd wrinkle that we can overlook the creativity of the composition, or the professionalism of the performer?

Jazz and Blues allow a crease or two; Classical music you’d get away with it too, though unlikely on primetime TV. Is packaging really more important than the product itself?

 What is everybody so afraid of; a clued-up, skilled-up artist with direction and drive? Ooh, I’m shaking with fear… Run for cover media moguls.

Even in this day and age of ‘equality’ for all, the music business would rather use pliable, plastic puppets who sing the songs and wear the clothes they are given; who can be easily shoved in a box on the commercial conveyor belt and dumped when the BOGOF offer expires.

Unless the artists have already had substantial success and retained theirown fan base there seems to be no way through. The ‘powers that be’ at Radio1 for example, would refuse to play a ‘new’ artist overtwenty-something because they are ‘too old’. In any other industry, age discrimination would be against the law don’t you know.

If they can still belt like Bassey; croon like Christie; compose like Costello or they’ve got the moves like Jagger, like it or not, who are we to tell them to stop? Musicianship and musicality, like wine gets BETTER over time.

The naive consumer questions,“Why are they still doing it? I mean, it’s not like they need the money.” Pay attention: Being a musician isn’t something you DO, it’s something you ARE, fool. Geddit?!

I will conclude with a quote from George Bernard Shaw. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Rock til you drop.

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