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Are Rock Music Audiences a Dying Breed?


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After pitching my health start-up last Friday to an event packed with over 350 people in person and one hundred plus online Zooming in – I was offered a ticket to see a Jeff Beck tribute show with incredible Australian players as well as a few overseas special guests including Sting and his guitarist jamming with the assembled musicians paying tribute to Jeff Beck. Being a lover of Jeff Beck’s music off course I said yes!

When I got there it was a packed venue at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville Sydney. But what struck me most was the fact that at least 90% of the audience were 50+ with a lot of 60+ and some 70+ attendees. Yes, logic would say well, Jeff Beck was 78 when he passed away recently, so most of his fans were around his age.

The performers included Peter NorthcoteDominic Miller, Paul Mason, Fenix Martinez, Trent CarrolSting, Warren Trout and others. And they played some absolutely stomping Jeff Beck tracks. It is hard to describe the energy in the room as it was complete awe…

Yet, this brings me to the next question. What about his influence on younger artists and their appreciation of his music? Notably, the person who invited me to the show was meeting his daughter’s boyfriend, in his late teens, at the show. And some of the artists performing the tribute were young as well. However, if the majority of rock musician audiences are that old, is the industry missing a beat?

What do I mean by that, you ask? Well, whilst constantly pushing the new ‘hottest thing’ of the moment onto the public, are labels actually doing right by all artists in their catalogue or roster?  Or is like in Wayne Rosso’s recently post about Billboard Magazine where its more about clickbait and celebrity life over and above the craft of writing, producing and performing timeless music?

It could also be that I’ve turned into an old fart and am out of the ‘scene’ these days. Perhaps it is a combination of my getting older and, in the age of music streaming, the movement of labels to be more concerned about the rumour mill and celebrity life of their artists to deliver quick sales. Does this mean labels are pursuing more churn and burn strategies with the artists they sign?

What does this signify in business terms? Well one thing I’ve never understood about the music industry is the constant chasing of young new fans over and above the lifecycle of current fans of particular artists. Conventual telco and technology business wisdom would indicate it is of critical importance to hold onto current customers (in this case fans) to extend their lifetime value to the label and artist. That same wisdom also details that it is cheaper to keep current customers than build new ones.

It is us older folk that have the dollars compared to our teenage brethren. Yet the labels are more interested in chasing the ‘teen dollar’. Obviously, we do need to keep investing in new artists to keep the creative culture brewing. I’m just perplexed as to why more marking dollars are not put into pushing older recording artists to record new albums when it primarily seems to be those artists seem to be more interested in touring as they make more money from that.

And that in my view is the issue, very few artists made millions from selling records and even less from streaming. Yet their labels did and still do so. With that I will close out by asking a simple question – does this point to the fact the equity in recorded music is still unfairly weighted against the artist? If anything it could be argued it is even more unfairly weighted in the 3rd decade of the 21st century than it ever was – especially for new artists.


  • Jakomi Mathews

    Jakomi was the original founder of The Music Void in 2007. He has deep insights into the inner workings of the music business and digital music generally from working with RWD Magazine and then Rock Sound in the UK during the early 2000's going onto oversea build some of the first artist mobile apps both before and just after the release of the first iPhone. He also worked with Muse's management for a short time and has managed an assortment of artists form Australia and the UK. He now has a new startup called goto.health focusing on disrupting the healthcare sector on a global basis.


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