#101: Roundtable – Are You Too Old To Make it?

In the News: Twitter is now #3 social network (if you count Hotmail as #2).  One report finds only 15% of consumers download anything. Another study finds most Twitter tweets never get a get a response. The Bolt goes on a date and finds out that being a musician sometimes does less than impress and the podcasters get real in a discussion about age and success.  Plus calls and blog comments from our talented indie audience!

Mentioned in this episode: CD Baby DIY Article : Are You Too Old To Make it?

A special thanks to Levi Speights! Check out his pedals HERE.  Mention the podcast and get 20% off your order.

  • Hey fellas… thanks for including my phone call. That was awesome. I actually stayed home sick today (abandoning my library). After calling in to my boss this morning, I checked my email and saw that there was a new episode uploaded… so I actually had the leisure to listen right away and was psyched to hear my call included. I loved Bolton’s “Adios” right at the end, too. Anyway, so I’ve got three comments / questions:
    1. I wasn’t really offended by the drunk librarian comment! I found it hilarious, actually, because like I said, I’m a librarian who’s drunk with modest frequency. I’m pretty sure it was Chris who jokingly said at one point many episodes ago “CD Baby Musicians Podcast, like a drunk librarian”… got a real kick out of that.
    2. I had another question about financial arrangements with the band… mainly about recording costs. (I will read the blog article you recommended, too, though.) We’re planning to go into the studio within a few months, and I’m hoping to get the band to chip in at least 10 or 20 percent each (of the total recording costs), even though it’s my material we’re recording (plus maybe a cover or two thanks to both the Pomplamoose and Scott Sellwood episodes). So my idea was to just give each band member the percentage of the profit for however much of the costs they chip in to start. I was thinking that would include both digital and print, plus any licensing deals I can get (god willing!). Does that sound like a reasonable deal for me? For them? Have you ever done anything like that? Not exactly sure how royalties would play into this all, either. I mean, if I made this deal with the guys, I’d be willing to stick to it for all money earned, to be honest, ‘cause I really wanna take care of the band and foster the group mentality. Thoughts? Experiences?
    3. In my phone call (the part you cut out, but no worries!!!) I mentioned that we’re going to be trying to set up a tour in the States next summer. We’re mostly aiming at house concerts, and I was wondering if you know of any other resources for finding out about house concert series, homeowners who host shows, etc.… the episode on house concerts was recorded a while ago, and I’m wondering if concertsinyourhome.com is still considered the primary means of finding out about show opps. I haven’t registered there yet but am planning to once I have some decent recorded music and a decent video of the band playing (all in progress). My concern is that after paying the registration fee, I’ll see that there aren’t really too many homeowners in the database to approach. Like I said, we’re aiming to do this around New York for a few weeks and Portland/Seattle for a few weeks. Any suggestions or extra resources would be so welcome and appreciated.
    Peace, and thanks for all,
    PS- I really hope that my boss doesn’t follow the podcast, because I’m obviously not feeling THAT bad… I’m gonna go practice for the remainder of the day 😉

  • Very interesting discussion. I like the perspectives and as an artist over 20 it resonated well. I liked hearing 30+ musicians talking about options on growing an audience. I do think with new technology and web based music the entire music world is completely different than when MTV first launched. keep it up! I just want to keep making new music and making a difference.

  • Karl

    Ok, ok, I fueled Hello Morning! Stop guilting me into following through with my commitments! 😛


  • Hey David,

    I know that Fran of Concerts in Your Home, is still very active. I would go ahead and sign up. He also gives advice readily if you hit him up.


    As for dividing up the licensing, I would be careful. As a song writer myself, I would be reluctant to give up those potential profits to anyone but a co-contributor to the song and lyrics. Bands break up and players leave, but licensing revenues have the potential to generate money for years to come. It could also be annoying to write small checks to half a dozen people every quarter till the end of your days.

    You might simply offer a percentage of total band revenue to the players provided they remain in the band. Just make sure you subtract expenses first.

    The Bolt

  • Age was a major theme in my 2009 CD release. Knowing I was releasing my debut in my 40’s I decided to tackle the subject head on rather than ignoring it. The title track “Young Man’s Game” is about being dismissed out of hand for being over a certain age regardless of what you might have to offer creatively. I think the decline of record labels as gatekeepers has been a huge development for older artists as it allows everyone direct access to fans. Of course winning them over with your talent is up to you but at least now we’ve all got a fair shot at it!

  • Chris,
    You young punks crack me up… old.. I got yer “old” right here!
    Loved the show. It’s like listening to my kids talk about music. LOL

  • My concern is I was never musically inclined growing up and now that i’m forty I have a huge interest in banjos and guitars is it ot late to start or should I get hearing aids first!

  • As an older singer-songwriter who all but gave up on “making it” I really identified with this podcast. If you have a calling to make music it doesn’t matter how old you are just keep playing and writing and don’t worry about “making it”. Making a living and “making it” are two different things. Just get out there and do it – play, tour, write, experience life. Your songs will become richer, deeper, more relevant. Pop rock stars come and go the ones that last are timeless. Be timeless, ageless.

  • Hi Dan – really enjoyed your perspective, and I have to agree 100%.

  • Speaking of Sharon Jones, here’s a great interview with Gabe Roth, the bass player and Dap Kings founder, where he talks about how they built their scene from the ground up. Personally I think this quote is key:

    In this market there are too many people that are too hungry, and you can’t rely on marketing yourself. You have to rely on having something people want. We really tried to concentrate on creating demand by having something people wanted. We spent our energy thinking about how we could make the show better, not how we could get more people there, and let the people figure out how to tell their friends how good the show was. It took a lot longer. If you’re a major label, and it’s 1989 and you’re putting out a new Pearl Jam record, this is an irrelevant approach. But right now, the approach they had is also kind of irrelevant.

    Great episode, guys!

  • Rich
  • Rich

    I obviously messed up the tag – sorry.

  • Interesting discussion guys….unless one is aspiring to be a mainstream pop artist I think age is almost totally irrelevant now days….and there are so many more options now days for someone wanting to become successful with music than mainstream pop. I think for most avenues, people care more about how you sound and how you make them feel than how you look (which basically means how “old” do you look…I would think).

    And as far as age simply dictating what you can do, I think that totally depends on the individual. My grandparents are still hopping around Europe at close to 90. BTW, you mentioned Leonard Cohen. I believe he release his first album in his 30’s. As did Sheryl Crow incidentally. I belieb Keb Mo got signed as an artist in his 40’s.

    Here’s a good one (worthy of a new paragraph): Cesaria Evora BEGAN her music career at 47…

    I also sense that we’re living in a time of a very profound shifting of values to a world where people are hungry for connection more than they’re hungry for an image of a pop start to idolize. I think that going forward we’re going to be coming into a very good time for musicians who feel like they’re “too old” to have or begin a successful music career. My prediction for the future 🙂 is that people will begin to care less and less about how something Looks, and care more about how it makes them Feel. People are slowly getting tired of the superficial.

    And obviously this brings up the whole discussion of what “Making it” actually means, which it seems is also collectively in a big process of change. Though ultimately it’s something we all have to decide for ourselves, and then decide if we are willing and able to overcome the challenges required to “Make it,” while remembering to savor the journey.


  • BTW, having attended the ASCAP Expo for two years in a row now and getting to listen to so many hugely successful artists talk about their careers, I’ve realized that there are plenty of artists that to all intents and purposes have “Made it,” but who internally don’t feel like they’ve made it. Now what does that say? 🙂

    To quote Alanis Morisette: “How about them transparent dangling carrots?”

  • My latest Friends of Dan Music Podcast guest is studio legend Carol Kaye. She may be 75 years old now but I’d still pay good money just to listen to her tune her bass!!! @Sean T Wright – thanks, brother!

  • So I wanted to comment on the call from the Gospel City guy – I’m a singer/songwriter ukulele-player at night but studied marketing and specialise in social media/onine marketing. The question of where you should be and put your effort into is a good one. The answer of being where you like to be is great – if you’re enthusiastic about being there it will come through.

    From a traditional marketing perspective, you want to be where your fans/audience are: if they’re sharing your songs on Facebook, create a Facebook page; if they’re tweeting about you, be on Twitter; if they’re connected on MySpace, get on MySpace. Once you are where your fans are active, they’ll be more likely to share your content. There are all sorts of places you can be, from a blog to standard social media sites, to music sites like CD Baby, Pandora, Ping, Soundcloud, etc.
    If you’re worried about time, you can look at programs like TweetDeck and HootSuite that will allow you to update multiple sites at once, set them up to post at a certain time in the future, integrate auto-feeds, etc.

    A better question is what are you going to share? I am against straight auto-feeds from a blog to everywhere else as your main use of social media. Remember that they’re all different, with different people, who go there for different reasons and consume content in a different way.

    On a side note, I’m not so comfortable with people plugging their own music in the phone calls, but I’ve noticed it happens a lot so is it just me (or being from Australia/NZ)? I’m listening to this podcast for advice and entertainment not to be advertised at. Just my opinion.

  • Great round table. I’m a 50+ player and feel better than ever about playing, writing and recording. Having been at this for a long time, todays market is much more receptive to all ages of artists. I think your comments are right on!

  • Chris Bauer

    Hey guys,

    I’m new to the podcast, but have had product on CD Baby for close to 10 yrs. Old dudes? Hah! I’m 51, and have been playing since I was 8. You hit everything on the head regarding music being for the artist. Very encouraging!

    Now, off to hear all the other podcasts! And if you ever need a 51 year old harmonica player, I’m your old guy! 🙂

  • Thanks Chris! We’ll keep you in mind for our next podcasting jam session . . .