Updated: Oct 31, 2018
There are regular times in my week when I will stop, look around at where I am, and try to conject how the bigger picture is progressing. I'm a man of a certain age. Sometimes I can feel slightly anxious that there is not enough road left ahead of me. Mostly though, I'm pretty relaxed that there is so much behind, both bumpy and smooth. It is the biggest consolation of the passing of time that one is always amassing experience. I cannot think of anything I do in my life which is not made easier and better because I have spent enough time learning how to. I've been making some interviews recently. I've been playing some live shows. All fun and gratifying. A recurring question though revolves around the notion of my age. “Why has it taken so long for someone perceived as a 'new artist' to surface?” “Where have I been all their lives?” I am not put out by any of this. Generally, I am amused. Of course I am not entirely a 'new artist'. I made my first recordings in the late 70's before drifting away into other areas of music. However, the no profile/no awareness rule applies. Fair enough. I've had a long and varied journey, one that has been stimulating and educational as well as fun. People puzzled by how long I've taken to release my current music get my stock reply. “It's taken this long because I didn't know enough till now”. Didn't have the experience. Simple, but true. Get's me to thinking though. It's a couple of weeks now since Geoff Emerick died. Ground breaking and award winning, I had a quick look again at his remarkable body of work. Beyond impressive. And yet something niggles. As he gets older, (not old), so the volume of work starts to decrease, the opportunities start to dry up. This is curious, but far from restricted to him. I've worked with creative, musical people all of my life. Some of them have been hugely successful as writers, producers, engineers, performers. For almost all of them a similar pattern emerges. Beyond a certain age, (not old), the conventional music industry starts to become suspicious of many of its' senior contributors. Flicking through current employment opportunities in most other industries, I am struck by the fact that in pivotal areas, companies will pay a real premium for those with significant experience and proven skills. Almost uniquely, the music industry stands in defiance of this principle. It is true that the industry has undergone a period of huge turmoil, where it struggled to make sense of its' conventional business model in the face of the impact of the internet. However, there are real signs now that they have regained horizontal control. Profit streams, although nothing like the haydays of the eighties and nineties, are looking more impressive. A new edition has emerged. Ever younger artists, ever more youthful themes. More shiny, glamourised and exciting. Most of this is fine by me. I have kids who like music, play it a lot, don't buy it much. Here's a conundrum though. Not much of this new model appeals to me. Fair enough it's not really meant to, (and it doesn't). So the result is that I don't spend so much on the industry's product. Crazy really. I love music to my core. It has always been a huge part of what defines me. I have disposable income which I would be thrilled to spend on music, if the industry was making more that I like. I don't blame very young people for not appealing to my taste. It's hard for them. For the most part they just don't know enough. That's fine. Horses for courses. Other industries though are careful not to ruthlessly disenfranchise potential contributors and customers. When we're looking to buy a car, a phone, a house, a holiday, companies are queueing up to offer a full range of products to us, irrespective of age, generally based on spending power. Is that such a bad thing?