by Metal Mastermind

June 22, 2020

Are you too old to pursue a career in music

Many believe that they’re too old to pursue their music career. It seems far fetched and you can’t help but think that shipped sailed long ago.

While there are some major benefits to starting young, we’re going to discuss the feasibility of pursuing your music career at any age. There are some caveats to this… some of which are unpleasant.

Below, we’re going to break everything down into 3 categories of people and how age has an impact on each:

  1. Serious, hard-working musicians that have never made it big with their music
  2. Hobbyist musicians that have that desire to take it to the next level
  3. New, just starting to learn an instrument

Although we’re all metalheads, this actually pertains to all musicians and artists, in general. There are some genres where it’s almost impossible to pursue music as a career when you’re beyond a certain age.

Fortunately, metal is not one of those genres…so keep reading!

Seasoned Working Musicians that Never Made It Big

Chances are, if this is you, you’re part of the older crowd.

This is one of the toughest spots to be in, especially if you’re older and have been playing music professionally for many years but never go that break That can be super frustrating after dedicating the majority of your adult life to music, oftentimes with nothing else to fall back on.

It can be difficult for a younger person as well. You could very well be in your mid-20s and you may have hit the ground running when you first started in your mid-teens. You may feel the anxiety of time passing by with no substantial momentum.

You may also be playing music for a living but you’re struggling to make it and living gig to gig. You’ve gotten this far; you just have to learn those skills needed to breakthrough.

  • Cons: Probably the most frustrated of the 3 groups because they may feel really down about the fact that it just never happened and they’ve tried so hard
  • Pros: The advantage is that they have years of experience and more than likely are better at their instrument or singing, so things like being on stage or recording will be much easier for them

Who this impacts the most is the older crowd in this scenario. As mentioned, you have probably been doing this for a lifetime with no plans to do anything else.

Our advice to you is to stick with us at Metal Mastermind (subscribe to our YouTube channel)! Our ultimate mission is to help everyone who wants to pursue their music as a full-time career, from the stage to the studio, and we will also coach you into developing a new mindset. So, don’t ‘fret’ (that was a guitar pun!).

If you’re younger, let’s say younger than the mid-30s, you have plenty of time! And realize that this is a journey. If your goal is to become an overnight success hit, then you really need to re-think why you’re into music in the first place because it’s probably for the wrong reasons.

And if you’re a metal musician, which that’s a fair assumption being on the Metal Mastermind website, then you already know that metal is not a mainstream genre (of course, we prefer it this way!). So that greatly slims the already thin chance of being an overnight success.

Rather, it takes that long term commitment and dedication. So you need to make sure you’re in this for the right reasons…not for fame, or getting girls/guys, or any of the other cliche stuff that used to be associated with rock and roll. You need to be in it because it’s simply part of who you are.

There’s an interesting perspective by Anthony Cerullo on the Vice.com website on why some great musicians never make it: Why So Many Talented Musicians Will Never Be Successful

Hobby Musicians that Want to Start a Career in Music

This is actually a fun place to be. And age doesn’t matter so much here other than the fact that if you’re older you’ve probably been playing longer and are further along in your musical abilities.

There’s also hardly any pressure. You started this as a hobby and have been content. But there’s that little fire that has been ignited and you’re thinking why not take it to the next level! It’s an exciting place to be.

  • Cons: Have never really taken is serious and could have a really tough time wrapping their head around the business and promotion part of it; this could potentially cause them to dislike playing music (some actually find music to be best to remain hobby or outlet)
  • Pros: They have the experience and it may not take that much more to push it to the next level. 

If you’re older, go for it! You already have your career that (hopefully) sustains your living expenses.

However, if you’re serious about making something great happen with your music, you need to treat this like a business that you’re starting! Otherwise, it will just remain a hobby.

If you’re younger, it’s definitely a no-brainer to go all-in with your music. The biggest thing, since you’re young, is do not accumulate baggage that will hold you back such as debt, bad girlfriends/boyfriends, new car, bigger house, etc.

At any age, you have to decide if going for it is something that you really want or if it’s just a nice thought.

New Musicians Starting a Music Career

Although it’s never too late to learn something new, learning an instrument when you’re older can be a bit more challenging. Especially if you have family, a job, and all of the responsibilities that come with that.

Learning a new instrument, and getting to the level where you can pursue music as a career, takes time. It also requires extreme consistency and patience.

This is where younger people have the advantage. Especially if you’re still living at home and don’t have to ‘adult’ yet. You’ve got plenty of time to practice and get good, fast. Just make sure you don’t waste that precious time. Spend as much time with your instrument a you possibly can.

If you’re older you may be prone to quickly give up on the idea of playing music professionally if you’re new to it. Especially if you can’t ‘find the time’ to practice.

On the other hand, if you’re retired or in a situation where you do have the time, you have a greater advantage. You’ll need to practice relentlessly to get to that level. But it can happen.

  • Cons: With no experience is can seem unrealistic to get there as it takes time and years of practice to become a real musician and good at what you do
  • Pros: Your mind is wide open and you’re not tainted by the industry or past failures in the music business

If you’re older, just realize that you’re going to have to put a ton of time into learning your instrument and getting good enough so that you can start a music career. Just noodling a couple of hours each week isn’t going to cut it. You need to make a solid plan and stick to it.

If you’re younger, in this case, the world is your oyster. You have the precious commodity of time. Use it wisely!

Malachi Mott gives some helpful advice on how to learn your new instrument on the ICON Music Blog: How to Learn an Instrument Quickly

Checklist to Pursuing Your Music at Any Age

Below is a quick guide that you can use no matter what level or age you’re at, musically (although the first on the list does cater to newbies).

  1. Decide the style of music you really want to do (not what’s popular, but what you’re truly passionate about
  2. Assess your current skill level and what it will take to get to where you need to be to realistically release music
  3. If you’re new, set a practice schedule and give yourself deadlines to accomplish specific goals with your instrument or voice
  4. If you’re in group 2 or 3, start with a feasible goal like a single or EP. If you’re in Group 1, you probably have enough material for a full album
  5. Create a timeline for everything you need to accomplish and give yourself deadlines
  6. Start teaming up with others that will help you get this off the ground (other musicians for parts you cannot play, artwork, researching the best platforms you need to release your music, etc). 
  7. Chew one piece at a time and don’t get overwhelmed (the schedule you create will help with that)

**If you need some inspiration, check out Christine Occhino’s article on Sonic Bids: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself the Next Time You Feel Like Giving Up on Music

Don’t Let Anything Hold You Back

Regardless of your age or where you are talent-wise, it takes 100% dedication to become proficient at your instrument to the point where you can do this professionally as a career.

Sure, there are some situations that make it more feasible. But if this is your dream, don’t let anything hold you back. Just be ready to roll up your sleeves and work your ass off.

Replay the LIVE Episode of ‘Are You Too Old to Pursue Music?’

This was the 3rd YouTube Live from Metal Mastermind! It’s something we have both struggled with (Ken and Jason, although Ken much younger…lol!).

As you might expect, our audience is of a variety of ages! So you’re going to hear us answer some interesting questions during this video.

Feel free to leave your comments. Just open the YouTube video in a new browser, leave a comment, and make sure you subscribe to our channel!

We hope this post helped you. If so, please share it!

Horns Up,

Ken & Jason
Metal Mastermind

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