A new report claims that music fans stop discovering new music at the age of thirty and six months. Longtime NME writer Mark Beaumont (wrong side of 30) claims they never really discovered new music at all.
As if it wasn’t bad enough to hit 30 knowing you’ve still got to live with your parents for 15 more years before you can afford a flat, it now emerges that you’re a ticking timebomb of musical irrelevance. According to a survey by Deezer, just six months after crossing into the era of marital discord, frenzied internet dating and your body telling you that you have to stop doing that shit right now (you know what shit it means), you will stop discovering new music. Boom. That’s it. Whatever you like at the age of 30 and six months, that’s what you’ll like forever. It’ll be like having your Netflix capped at 2013, or being trapped in a lift for the rest of your life with Stuart Maconie.
‘Musical paralysis’, they call it, and you’d best make sure you’re not listening to Bastille when it hits you. Now, there are plenty of reasons this might be ‘a thing’. As you get older, it’s harder to discover your new favourite band. You’re a clubland pariah, only welcome at nostalgia nights. Maybe you’ve settled down and don’t get introduced to stuff by new partners anymore, or you’re single and finding your rabid obsession with obscure Belgian chillwave is less of an uptick with dates than it was at 24. What new music you do come across is often a cliched rehash of stuff you liked the first time around, it’ll never help form who you are as a person in the way that the bands you discovered in your late teens did, and its broiling churn of teenage lust, insecurity and heartbreak isn’t made for you and I to relate to, grandad. There’s not many hot young laptop-slingers singing about unreliable nappy linings, investment ISAs or the constant fear of sclerosis.
“Apparently, being over 30 is like being trapped in a lift for the rest of your life with Stuart Maconie”
Ironically, streaming services and all their paid-for ‘suggestions’ don’t help. With new acts clawing for your attention from every corner of the internet, every song ever available in an instant and precious little critical consensus about what we should all be liking, it’s a sonic shitstorm out there. Who’s got time to sieve through all that sewage to find your next musical soulmates, when there’s marking to do, divorce papers to prepare and ten-year-old photo folders to go through to find your new Tinder profile shot?
Still, I call bullshit. Being a music lover, for better or worse, is a life-long addiction. Ask Steve Lamacq next time you run into him down the Water Rats. Ask one of the many music bloggers you follow, hiding their advanced years behind a youthful enthusiasm for all things daisy fresh. Ask, well, me, an NME writer well into his coughties, who discovers a dozen new bands every day before a (Japanese) breakfast. It’s the only habit I haven’t been able to kick. Except medium-level casino gambling and wine gums.
There will be plenty of silver rockers reading this who still devour new music ravenously. We know none of it will change our lives or come close to being half as good as The Wedding Present, Suede or (insert your own 19-year-old life-changers here) but we still crave the rush of the new, the taste-altering jolt of a new scene, the thrill of following a band from Monarch to Madison Square Garden, and the general smugness of feeling that the zeitgeist is still within our fading sight.
These are the common traits of the music fan; congratulations, this survey doesn’t relate to you. Whether you’re 15 or 50, you’ll always love new music. No, this survey relates to the One Show majority who don’t really care that much about music, and never have. They get into certain tracks or bands in their raving years because it’s on in the clubs where they go to meet potential mates, or it helps ingratiate themselves into a desired social peer group. They might get the appropriate hat, t-shirt or haircut, but they don’t really listen to it. It’s the background noise of their lifestyle, not the central source. By 30 most of them have no need for it anymore, beyond having something pleasant to play in the background at dinner parties, parole celebrations or the last-ditch cocaine all-nighters before their septums give out. Something nice from uni will suffice. Bit of Calvin Harris for a frisky night. The new Sheeran. Bit of Bastille because they’ve heard it’s what the ‘indie’ kids are into.
“The One Show majority don’t really care that much about music, and never have”
So no, music fanatics don’t stop discovering music after 30, music consumers do. And only streaming services care what they listen to.