Are You Too Old to Make it in Music?

Corey Koehler
3 min readSep 8, 2015

Here we go:

If you subscribe to my email list, I ask you (and everyone else) the following question:

“Reply to this email and tell me what you’re struggling with right now. Even if it’s something really small, don’t hesitate.”

I get lots of great questions and I hear from a lot of good musicians who are trying to figure this all out like the rest of us.

There’s one question — or in this case “statement” — that I am getting quite a bit lately.

Here’s one:

“I want a better life. I want to work doing what I love the most; what brings solace to my soul and a sense of knowing I’m right where I want to be. I’m 35, and my chances of making it I feel are getting smaller.”Bonnie Sperzel, Performing Musician-Voice (main instrument), Vocalist/Vocal Coach at Home

Here’s the part that made me think…

“I’m 35, and my chances of making it I feel are getting smaller.”

Are they really?

OK. First the definition of “Making it” is pretty subjective. Are we talking Taylor Swift making it or “I make $40K a year doing what I love making it.” Big difference.

Also, as you get older you have more commitments, less energy, less time, less tolerance for bullshit, etc so those are factors that may work against you as well.

That said…

If you are striving for the 40K version you have just as good a shot as anyone if you are any good and want to work at it. There is a huge demographic of people out there looking for stuff like yours (if your making music in a the right genre).

For instance, everyone is always talking about Millennials this and Millennials that. And yeah they are the big focus for marketers these days.

BUT, what about the Baby Boomers?

They, until recently, are one of the largest generations ever. They are older and nostalgic now.

They remember when music was at its all time high…Dylan, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Stones… all the greats.

They’re kids are grown up. Now they have the time and the income to support music again.

I see a ton of this demographic at festivals and my shows in my area.

And that’s just one demographic.

When you identify your audience and get clear about what it is you are offering as a musician (hint: more than just music), other opportunities will emerge.

Musicians/Creatives who succeeded after 30

And beyond demographics, don’t let your age be an excuse for not making it.

Here is a list of successful people who made it after the 30th and 40th birthdays.

Sheryl Crow-Musician (31 at the time of her first release)

Leonard Cohen — Musician (33 during first release but didn’t get much recognition until he was 50 when he hit with “Hallelujah” )

Lucinda Williams-Musician (35 when she had here first release)

J. K. Rowling - Author, (32 when the first Harry Potter was published)

John Hamm — Actor, Mad Men (36)

Stan Lee — Comic Book Author, Spider Man, Fantastic 4, X-men(39)

Musicians/Creatives who succeeded after 40

Pharrell Williams — Musician (40)

Thelonius Monk — Musician (46 when he started getting recognition)

Mark Twain - Author (49 when Huckleberry Finn was published)

Colonel Sanders-Restaurateur, Kentucky Fried Chicken (65 when he founded KFC)

No excuses!

Anyway, that’s my two cents.

What do you think? Did I miss anyone?

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Corey Koehler

Google Ads Guy | Entrepreneur | Music and NFL Geek | 80s Kid Sharing adventures in music, marketing & early unretirement.