Why Is Retirement Hard for Some Musicians?

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Musicians often struggle in retirement.

Retirement is a goal for most Americans.

Some people desire to retire early and simply travel and rest.

Others love productivity and desire to continue working in some paid or volunteer capacity, even in their golden years.

Still, other people prefer a “semi-retired” lifestyle, balancing work and play.

For some Americans, retirement is forced through illness.

For others, financial hardships keep them in the workforce.

According to a recent The Conversation article titled “Why do musicians like Elton John find retirement so tough? A music psychology expert explains,” retirement can be even more complicated for those in non-traditional fields like the music industry.

Musicians often struggle in retirement.
Many musicians are drawn to the thrill of performing.

Many musicians announce their retirement only to find themselves recording another album or scheduling another tour.

Justin Bieber, Barbra Streisand, Nicki Minaj, Phil Collins, Ozzy Osbourne, and Elton John have all come out of retirement and extended their careers.

Ozzy Osbourne returned from his No More Tours tour in 1992 and continued touring for another 30 years.

Elton John has announced his own retirement no less than five times since 1984 and is on a tour right now.

Elton John will have performed more than 300 concerts in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe after his current tour.


Why do musicians like Elton John struggle to leave the stage?

For rockers with international acclaim, the reasons are unlikely to be financial.

Instead, it is likely the motivation to continue working is more intrinsic.

Those who are extrinsically motivated tend to be drawn to praise, money, and other tangible rewards.

Those who are intrinsically motivated tend to be driven to create and perform music.

Musicians who are celebrated gain status from their performances unrivaled by most careers.

Such validation can be intimately connected to self-worth and identity.

Retirement for musicians often means a decrease in creative outlets.

Although classical musicians are often more likely to be introverted, those who write and perform pop and rock music tend to be more extroverted.

As a result, their music connects them to others through creative collaboration and provides energy through interacting with their audiences.

Replacing the adrenaline and emotional high is hard for musicians to replace in retirement.

I, for one, continue to enjoy concert-going and seeing and hearing my favorite performers and bands from my formative years.

A quick scroll through my streaming playlist will bear witness to this.

Reference: The Conversation (January 11, 2023) “Why do musicians like Elton John find retirement so tough? A music psychology expert explains”

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