Mike Doughty of Soul Coughing on why the music industry is failing

From MKDO:

Forget piracy. The music industry’s biggest money-loser is an inability to connect with older people that used to spend money on music, and don’t anymore.

I had a long call with people I work with, and I had ideas about finding my way to new listeners. Having this excellent second-act career, as a middle-aged artist, making singer-songwriter music that some Soul Coughing fans don’t like—and, pointedly, vice-versa—I want to get in front of the audiences of other artists with listeners in their late 30s, 40s, early 50s; to generally find older people that would like the songs. I’d like to widen my audience.

They were all ears—as was I, to their ideas. My agents (at High Road) and my management (Hornblow) are samurais. Unfortunately, our business is utterly focused on strategies to get music in front of people in their teens and 20s. Other than pushing what worked on younger people, and complaining that those avenues are ineffective with those same fans as adults, the bulk of our business isn’t TRYING to reach older listeners. However skilled, there’s only so much rain my peeps can make, without a wider culture built to help.

You get told that adults aren’t interested in music. That’s bunk. People who like art don’t stop liking art. They go to movies. The film industry makes a lot of money on blockbusters that young people love, but they also make money on subtler, artier stuff, that adults like, in a way that the music business hasn’t figured out.

If you put on an awesome rock record, singer/songwriter record, 80s/90s-style hip-hop record, middle-aged (let’s begin by being unafraid of that term) adults will dig it.

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