We have a growing age gap in rock. Can anything be done about it?

If you look at the world of pop and hip-hop, the majority of performers are close to the same age as the fans. This creates a certain level of relatability and communion.

This is not the case with today’s rock stars. For the most part, they are much older than the target fanbase and that age gap is setting up some interesting dynamics within the music business. This article at Medium.com takes a look at the problem and why you should care.

A few weeks ago, the annual MTV Video Music Awards took place, honoring what’s best or most popular or whatever in music videos. And in the buildup to the show, Pitchfork reviews editor Jeremy D. Larson noticed something interesting about the Best Rock nominees: They’re all old dudes.

As was quickly established in his mentions, Larson wasn’t basing his observation on actual math but, rather, a feeling about the age of these vocalists. For the record, here are their ages:

  • Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump: 34
  • Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl: 49
  • Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds: 31
  • Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington: died last year at the age of 41
  • Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie: 31
  • Thirty Seconds to Mars’ Jared Leto: 46

Crunching the numbers, the average age is just slightly under 39. Still, Larson’s comment got me thinking about our relationship to the people singing rock songs. And just as rock music’s cultural importance has shifted radically over the last couple decades, so too do we no longer look at vocalists the same way we did in previous generations. In the past, a front man was a voice of a generation — or at the very least, somebody from your generation. Nowadays, if you’re coming of age, your rock stars are older guys.

This is not a “YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN” rant. It’s important that you keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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