How old is it out there? (I of II)

In the post-convention flurry of commentary, the predictable lament about the graying fan-base has shown up again. I hear this every year or so among sg types of all stripes and kinds. “What are we going to do when all these old people die off?” and “Most of the NQC attendees are older so obviously we’ve got a crisis on our hands.” All this kinda stuff reminds of a similar discussion that’s gone on for decades and decades among journalists and newspaper executives. If you look at data about daily newspaper subscribers, it’s historically skewed to older age groups. There’s always a contingent of folks who start Chicken-Littling on the basis of this data … “Newspapers are doomed within a few generations” …etc. But as in sg, daily newspaper readership is in some ways intrinsically connected to aging. People tend to become more interested in news and politics and current events generally as they age and they’re lives settle down into patterns conducive to reading a daily morning paper. And as their incomes rise with age, they are more likely to subscribe to a daily newspaper. Similarly, sg is a style of music that primarily tends to attract older people. And as people age and incomes rise and children leave home, lifestyles are more conducive to travel and the spending of disposable income on concerts and cds. The analogy isn’t perfect, but I think it demonstrates the way that every generation has historically aged into certain tastes (daily newspapers, say, or southern gospel). The point of all this? The crowds at NQC probably aren’t getting much older; they’ve always been old on average. You may not have noticed that before, but your personal discovery doesn’t necessarily signal a pandemic industry-wide crisis.

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