Stevie Nicks‘ recent duet with Harry Styles at Los Angeles’s the Troubadour might be a sign of the times, where music is at the forefront of a movement that sees beyond age. Gina Pell, a tech mogul and Content Chief of the newsletter The What, says the notion of marketers bowing down to millennials and making other distinctions based on age is a dated one. She coined the term perennial to describe what she sees as a move away from categorizing based on age rather than interests and like-mindedness.
Pell introduced the idea in an October 2016 piece on Medium. “It was in response to the world’s focus on millennials right now. I was also tired of hearing people my age bashing millennials because that’s just useless, too. Perennials sprung from putting a frame and a name to a more expansive mindset of people,” says Pell, 49. “It’s a new lens of looking at yourself and people around you where you’re not limited by birth year. If the best technology companies in the world are targeting you based on your actual interests and what you’re doing then why should we continue to look at ourselves through the cage of generation?”
Examples of perennials in music, those whose music transcends age demographics, are plentiful. Pell cites acts like Adele, Lorde, Rolling Stones, U2 and John Legend and, most notably, Lady Gaga’s collaborations with Tony Bennett. “Lady Gaga is completely cutting edge and you could look at Tony Bennett and think, this guy at the end of his career. It’s like no, Tony Bennett is still thriving and he sees the value and collaboration in doing something with Lady Gaga,” she says. “You can see just from the photographs that they take that they adore each other and there’s this infusion of energy that’s created there.”
Pell explains that while there’s always been a multigenerational element to music fandom, the current popularity of festivals has increased it. “Festivals bring in lots of different cohorts for each one of those acts. Radiohead was just at Coachella. So was Lady Gaga. So was Halsey or Tove Lo. You get all of these different kinds of people convening in one space,” she says.
For Pell, nothing brings home her point more strongly than heartfelt (and warmly received) collaborations like Styles and Nicks’s that prove that a similar mindset is much more relevant than a similar birth year. “It’s this beautiful authentic thing that happens that’s based on two people, two artists seeing each other, really seeing each other as people and as musicians. Not as like you’re an old codger and you’re a little know nothing popstar.”