[click Image to Enlarge]
This isn't unusual. See the site Magazine Death Pool for the betting line on which magazines will cease publication. Note that Blender, which ceased publication in March 2009, had on the cover such rock "artists" as Kelly Clarkson. Meanwhile, the current Rolling Stone covers such cutting edge youth concerns as Obama's Energy Secretary saving the Planet, stories on "Mad Men," "Entourage," "True Blood," and "Weeds" (all skewing heavily female, and older, mid forties or later). American Idol's Chris Daughtry, and Willie Nelson are featured, along with the shocking news that American Idol's Adam Lambert is indeed, gay. Lambert of course poses on the cover as a seductive pop tart, reminiscent of Rolling Stone's 1990's era cover featuring the edgy, youth-oriented Britney Spears (pre-meltdown, pre-Federline).
None of these features, stories, photos, or series of covers screams youth orientation, and of course nearly every bit of content skews heavily older and female.
This is because America's most scarce resource is young (White) people, who drive Rock and other aspects of youth culture.
The short story of 20th Century demographics would read something like the following. In the 1920, prosperity and an increased supply of youth (born after the turn of the Century in good times) created a youth culture. Increased prosperity also led to more babies being born. Then the Great Depression ended the Youth Culture, followed by WWII, which made teenagers who turned 18 in 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945 (born in 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1927 respectively) into adults very quickly. Youth culture did not return, until the post-War baby boom and rising incomes created it as in the 1920's. Starting with first toys and then music, youth markets exploded. The Davy Crockett craze, and toys, were as important as Elvis. For example, Hula Hoops came on the scene in 1957, along with Frisbees. Kids who were ten or eleven in the 1950's, entered their late teen age years and early twenties in the 1960's, and drove the youth culture, from music to fashions.
But, births became radically reduced in the latter half of the 1960's. Rising costs of living, declines in real wages, ending of restrictions on abortion, contraception, and the belief in delayed marriage reduced fertility and births every year starting in 1965. During the 1970's, this reduced fertility (as families were also hammered by a poor economy) only increased, recovering somewhat in the 1980's, only to fall again in the early 1990's during the recessionary period, and the high cost of housing in the inflationary period of the latter 1990's and early 2000's when the Dot-Com and Housing bubbles drove prices in urban job centers (mostly on the coasts) up past affordability for many families.
This has left marketers, publishers, creative people, pundits, and many others in a mental prison. Their model of how the world works (there is always more young people, and a large group of young people drives an ever changing culture) is at odds with the reality: there is an ever smaller supply (of young White people) who are the engine of youth culture, and this lack of young (White) people is the chief cause of the decline of youth culture in all areas.
While it is true that internet piracy, decline of the CD as a sales medium for music, and the growth of low-cost online sales of mp3 versions of music on sites as diverse as Apple's Itunes store and Amazon's own online offerings have seriously diminished the money rock artists (and everyone else) earn from recordings, live performances are still lucrative.
It's still possible to make (considerable) amounts of money from rock music, by touring and performing live, where fans will pay considerable amounts of money to see favored artists. It's interesting however to see just who ranks in live performing revenues.
The 2004 Rolling Stone Rich List has for example, James Taylor making about the same amount ($20 million) as Eminem. The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and the Eagles are the top three performers. In 2007 Miley Cyrus earned a combined $64 million from concerts and music sales. But no new artists like Elvis in the late 1950's or the Beatles in the mid 1960's are earning this amount of money, from either recording or touring. Cyrus, working the tween girl market, made close to the amount that the Eagles did in 2004 ($63 million for the Eagles vs. $64 million for Cyrus).
As an aside, it's interesting that while musicians can make money from older fans (the Stones, Springsteen, the Eagles) or young tween girls (Cyrus), there's little evidence of any performer who can draw young White men in appreciable numbers to be competitive with the top revenue earners in pop music. Young men seem completely absent from popular music.
The 2000 Census data can be found at that link, while the 1990 Census data (for White Alone) data can be found here, while the 1980 Census data (PDF only) can be found here.
Here is the graphic version of the 1980 Census:
[Click Image to Enlarge]
Using the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Census, I've constructed the following table.
|Under 5 years||12,859,892||13,649,490||11,789,394|
|5 to 9 years||13,944,882||13,616,268||12,200,468|
|10 to 14 years||14,322,638||12,853,558||13,699,871|
|15 to 19 years||14,167,148||13,342,703||16,138,482|
|20 to 24 years||13,064,891||14,523,912||16,541,315|
|25 to 29 years||13,501,773||16,638,544||15,262,799|
|30 to 34 years||14,818,786||17,351,513||14,143,721|
|35 to 39 years||17,031,493||16,081,606||11,290,738|
|40 to 44 years||17,265,995||14,506,390||9,408,654|
|45 to 49 years||15,810,626||11,585,703||9,034,158|
|50 to 54 years||14,213,875||9,504,871||9,812,613|
|55 to 59 years||11,107,247||8,968,416||9,990,620|
|60 to 64 years||8,945,842||9,211,123||8,813,447|
|65 to 69 years||8,040,225||8,899,637||7,641,210|
|70 to 74 years||7,648,193||7,126,564||6,001,564|
|75 to 79 years||6,530,019||5,485,025||4,229,594|
|80 to 84 years||4,408,597||3,552,695||2,631,873|
|85 years and over||3,778,504||2,788,052||1,972,317|
From this data, I've constructed the graph below showing the decline in youth cohorts from the 1980 Census data:
[Click Image to Enlarge]
I must mention that the estimates from the US Census Bureau show an increase in youth cohorts, wrt to 2008 vs. 2000, but these are estimates and not complete enumerations. They also fly in the face of the other data, which suggests a birth dearth and scarceness of young people. Among others, the losses at the UPN and WB networks, and continued losses at the merged CW network, aimed solely at teen girls. For example, the highest ratings of WB/UPN series Buffy the Vampire Slayer were 5.3 million, while that of the 1980's series the A Team were 20.1 million viewers.
Nevertheless, the data for White Alone youth cohorts for the 2008 estimates show an increase in young people created during a decade of high housing costs and declining real wages. Perhaps people magically had children at little cost, unlike earlier decades. Or some other cause is at work (immigration from Europe with pre-existing children)? I do find it puzzling that the peak numbers of the Baby Boom (16-17 million per cohort) is now approached in numbers (around 15-16 million) for the younger age cohorts, under age 5 to age 29. Particularly since the numbers of age cohorts in 2000 who would naturally age (8 years later) don't match up, there seems to be an extra 3 million people added with no explanation. Completeness however demands I point out that data, and let readers draw their own conclusions. My own are that the over-counting might well be from faulty estimates and wrong classifications (Hispanic/White being put into the White Alone category).
The White Alone category is the driver of the youth market, because Hispanics tend to strongly prefer Spanish-language media. As I've noted in other posts, during the campaign for and against California's Proposition 8 (overturning gay marriage), the opponents of Prop. 8 recruited Puerto Rican actress America Ferrara, star of the ABC-TV series "Ugly Betty" to record spots against Proposition 8. In English. Proponents of Proposition 8 got actual, Mexican native and Spanish speaking Telenovela stars to record spots in Spanish for Prop. 8. This undoubtedly helped Proposition 8 to pass.
America has a substantial Hispanic/Mexican youth population, but they tend to inhabit a separate and distinct cultural universe which only occasionally intersects with the English speaking, White/Black culture. Blacks do share many if not most of the cultural assumptions and enthusiasms of the White population, and a quick check of Nielsen's excellent ratings portal confirms that Black and White preferences for Television remains pretty much the same. While Hispanics don't share many of the same viewing patterns. Howver, there simply are not that many Blacks (12.5% of the population) to make an impact as a mass-driver of youth culture.
[Note to bloggers, for those seeking to copy/paste data into Excel from web-pages, a good Text Editor that can do regular expression search and replace is critical. For this post, I'd selected web pages generated by the US Census Bureau website and copied into TextWrangler, the free text editor from the BBEdit folks for the Mac. Using regular expressions I replaced the pattern of \r\t\r\r (a carriage return, a tab, two carriage returns) with \t (a single tab). Of course you need to show the invisibles to figure out what to replace. Gedit on Linux does not have regular expressions, both Kate and Jedit (the latter also available on the Mac) have regular expressions in Search and Replace. Once you've set up your text file properly, save it and import it into Excel or Open Office as a delimited (tab) text file and save yourself lots of tedious typing. It's faster and you don't get errors. A good text editor is also critical in replacing the junk that Excel or Open Office create when it saves HTML files, which I've done in creating this table for Blogger.]
Rolling Stone is as tedious, older skewing, aimed at a mostly older, female readership, as it is, because there just are not that many young people. Not enough young people to make say, either the Killers or Arctic Monkeys (both formed in 2002) as well-known, as popular, and as profitable as say Elvis, the Beach Boys, or the Beatles, in their hey-days, or even as the Eagles in 2004, a band at that point 32 years old (the Eagles were formed in 1972).
Everyone knows the data, but some times it takes the posed glamor shot of an ... American Idol contestant to understand how rock, and youth culture in general, are both dead. Because there are not enough young people.