Many adults look back at who they were during their middle school and high school years and are thankful for being older and wiser. In most every way, being an adult is easier than being a teenager because of the confidence, security, and freedom that comes with age. But one thing that comes easier to teens than adults is finding and becoming passionate about new music.
While most adults are content to keep listening to the music they discovered in their youth, serious musicians need to continually seek out new music in order to stay challenged and engaged in their work. In other words, if you rely only on the same musical influences you discovered in your teens, a relatively short period in your life, you’ll be limiting your creative potential in a huge way.
Why it’s hard for adults to become passionate about new music
Teenagers are new global citizens, and it’s hard to be new at something so important. From relationships to not being taken seriously, being young is often closely associated with insecurity and uncertainty. By design, teens are constantly searching for ways to solidify their identities, and music is a great vehicle for simultaneously learning more about the world and feeling understood. Teens easily gravitate towards music because it’s a creative commodity they can feel ownership over. This is why so much music is based on youthful themes like the drama of young relationships, angst, and breaking through boundaries to be seen and understood.
Most adults are too busy to find new music, and some have difficulty being moved by music in the same way they were as kids. Music starts to feel less important to adults starting in their early twenties, but the rituals of music discovery and consumption are essential lifelines for most teens.
Why serious musicians need to listen to new music no matter their age
Believe it or not, many serious musicians are just as susceptible to tuning out new music as other adults are. You might be deeply passionate about your favorite artists, but if you’re only listening to music you discovered as a teen, you’re cutting yourself off from a world of music that’s constantly evolving and changing. Whether it’s genres you haven’t explored or new music from ones you’re familiar with, opening yourself up to new ideas is essential for giving you energy and ideas for shaping your own work.
How to find new music as an adult
Discovering new music as an adult can be as simple as skipping familiar artists to listen to new ones instead. However, since a great deal of money and attention is devoted to promoting music to younger audiences, you should prepare to put some work in. Read music reviews, use the discovery tools your streaming platform of choice offers, and go to as many live concerts as you can. Similar to how exercising is hard work that brings crucial elements, your effort to seek out new and interesting music throughout your career will end up making your own work better.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.