Category Archives: Commentaries

Middle Aged People: The Missing Music Market?

Music maker Gary D. Clark recently wrote to the Mark Weber Music Blog about a topic that he had a strong opinion on: music for middle aged folks isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Clark wrote a letter in which he stated, “All the new music is focused on the 16-35 market it seems.” Indeed, it does seem like today’s music is all about the youth and what they want to hear. What about people over 35, though?

Clark makes a good point in his letter to the Mark Weber Music Blog that terms like MP3, Bluetooth, iTunes, and “the Cloud” are lost to deaf ears when it comes to baby boomers. Interestingly, this is the same age group that, as Clark puts it, “represents the wealthiest demographic in the market.”

Middle aged
So what’s a middle aged music lover over a certain age supposed to do? Just listen to the old classics, over and over again? Or be forced to listen to the current fad music of the day, like Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus?

Perhaps there’s a problem in that older people– the baby boomers, in particular– aren’t as technologically savvy (or technological, for that matter) as their younger counterparts. They could be missing out on certain artists and songs precisely because they don’t utilize technology. Even with the return of vinyl records to the music marketplace, there’s still a sense that the overall music market of today is geared to having people download and/or “stream” music from online services.

Think about it… a long time ago people would go to record stores to buy records, which they’d bring home to play on their record players and stereo systems. Then 8-tracks tried to make it big, and they did for a couple of years, but for the most part cassettes dominated the industry for decades, alongside vinyl. In the late 1980s/early 1990s, CDs took over, and became the main way people listened to music at their house, in cars and elsewhere.

Just when the older generation(s) got used to CDs, along came things like “Napster” and “everything is in the Cloud.”

Clark, the concerned music maker, wonders what could help older middle aged people navigate the new marketplace so they feel included…perhaps a website devoted to the issue? One that provides music for this demographic in a way they can understand, use and enjoy? It’s not that unusual for baby boomers and those over 35 to be somewhat computer savvy these days, right? A lot of them have iPads, even… so perhaps a music website geared to older music lovers, with their tastes in mind, could thrive while getting new music directly to them.

Gary D. Clark writes songs for older people. Recently, he made a splash with his novelty song, “Even Fish Love Beer,” and now he’s back with a new one appropriately titled, “Middle Aged People Need Love Too.”

Check out GaryDClark.com if you’re of a certain age and want to hear music that’s not so focused on teenyboppers and twentysomethings. Get his new song here

Anatomy of a Song by Marc Myers

Anatomy of a Song is a new book subtitled “The oral history of 45 iconic hits that changed rock, R&B and pop.” Available thanks to Grove Press, this hardcover book by Marc Myers makes a perfect Christmas gift for the music fan in your life.

Anatomy of a Song

It turns out that Myers typically writes a column for The Wall Street Journal, and Anatomy of a Song is a logical extension of his essays for that paper.  Basically, 45 songs are picked to highlight in the book, with the various singers, songwriters, producers and engineers contributing their thoughts on how the song came to be, how it got its sound, and what kind of impact it made at the time… and overall. In general, the book covers the 1950s thru the early 1990s, with most of the songs coming from the heyday of popular music in America– the 1960s and 1970s.

So you’re probably wondering what songs are covered in this book?

That’s exactly what I wanted to know when I flipped open its pages at Barnes & Noble bookstore. Some of the song titles and artists were very familiar, like “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes, “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks, and “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M. Then there were quite a few I hadn’t heard of– song titles that is– like “Deacon Blues” by Steely Dan, “Big City” by Merle Haggard, and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” by Lloyd Price.

Here’s the deal: I read about the songs I was familiar with first. As for some of the ones I didn’t have much interest in? I kind of skipped over them. Just like a jukebox, this book offers short and interesting tidbits for your pleasure, and you get to choose which ones to pay attention to.

By the way, Myers did an amazing job compiling interview quotes for this book. Interviews with Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder, Mavis Staples, Loretta Lynn, Jimmy Cliff, Dion, Debbie Harry, Steven Tyler, and Bonnie Raitt fill this book. They’re not long, by any means, but they get to the point about certain songs, and that makes it interesting. It’s as if you’re in a room with songwriters, musicians, behind-the-scenes people and all those others who helped form the soundtrack of your life, and the soundtrack of America in the 20th Century.

Check out Marc Myers site here and look for Anatomy of a Song wherever books are sold.

Music Today is in a Sad State

Music today? Hmm…

I was thinking about music today, and I am frankly tired of American Idol and the Disney Channel dominating what Americans, and the world, consider popular. Justin Beiber follows Miley Cyrus, who followed Jonas Brothers, and before that we had Spice Girls, Britney Spears, and Backstreet Boys. Meanwhile, Lady Gaga (a Madonna retread), Eminem (who just sounds like he’s an angry yeller lately), and Ke$ha (mindless, robotic drunken party girl ‘music’) dominate the airwaves today. Yikes.

Music Today

I think the last time music was interesting was probably in the early 1990s when hip-hop and grunge rock were prevalent. Back then you had House of Pain, Salt-N-Pepa, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Dr. Dre and others making very potent music that people respected and cared about. Lately, I can’t think of too many music/artists that people respect and care about. It’s alot of rappers saying nothing with catchy hooks sung by females, with “auto-tune” on full-blast, making everyone sound digitally manipulated and party-ready. Well, the party isn’t as good as it once was.

I feel like the music biz and show business in general have run out of creativity. It seems like everything’s a remake of something already done before…Where are the artists taking music to different places? Where are the new Michael Jackson’s and Beatles? Who is re-defining American culture through song these days? I can’t think of anyone. Sure Rihanna has had a lot of hit singles, but I can’t see how “Umbrella” will matter ten years from now, except to get people on a dancefloor perhaps?

Just seems to me that music today is a lot of noise but little substance.

Now I know you can go online and find obscure bands and singers and support them by downloading their tunes for 99 cents these days, but the problem is they have small audiences. The industry used to be controlled by gatekeepers which helped Joe so-and-so become a superstar. Now with all the labels pretty much kaput, and artists doing it for themselves, you don’t have superstars, you’ve got minor, niche successes. Fall Out Boy is an example. They’re big but not HUGE. And they broke up. Where are the Celine Dion’s? The Aerosmith’s? The Journey’s? Today the music world is splintered by the web and it’s something that really bugs me.

When The Rolling Stones and Tina Turner kick the bucket, who will take their place with big arena shows? There’s just not that many “HUGE” acts anymore.