How do you measure your level of success in the music industry?
Andrew W.K. recently gave an answer to a question in his advice column in The Village Voice. The question was from an aspiring musician who had “the dream of making it big”, but was increasingly becoming frustrated with their lack of progress.
Many of us tend to believe that success is a dollar amount or a certain level of status, notoriety, or fame. The problem is that there will always be richer, more popular people.
No matter where you are in your career right now, it’s important to consider your definition of success. Let’s take a look at a few different elements you might associate with your personal success.
Money & Fame
Andrew W.K. argues that if you are basing your standards for success on money or fame, essentially you’re just a businessperson. You’re a good marketer.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting either money or fame, but you will be forced into a position of constantly having to please everybody with your image and the music you create. After all, you have to be in pursuit of mass appeal to achieve widespread recognition.
It’s not bad to have monetary goals, and we all have a desire to be known and to be liked by more people. However, if it’s getting in the way of enjoying your craft, it could be detrimental to your art.
You also have to temper your human desires and expectations with reality. More doesn’t necessarily make people any happier.
If you’re expecting your music to bring you fortune and fame, there’s always an opportunity to be disappointed. You could play the perfect show and not even know if you’re preoccupied with attendance and sales.
However, if you do what fulfills you, success is really just a measure of how much you enjoy what you’re doing. If you genuinely love playing your instrument and creating your music, you are already successful.
If you work towards fulfillment, you won’t always be doing something other people will love. You won’t always be creating music that others want to hear. However, you will be pursuing your personal creative expression, and that will allow you to be more true to yourself.
Andrew W.K. suggests that if you love making music, you will start to become a better person through your art.
Have you ever factored personal transformation into your success equation? If you became a better person through your art, would you see that a worthy end goal?
As human beings, we grow when we push through adversity, and challenges are almost assured on a path towards self-betterment. What is music teaching you? What are you learning about yourself when you create art?
Perhaps it’s time to look at how you’re growing as a person through your music.
Have you been stretched or challenge a little? Are you beginning to see things through a new set of lenses?
You can set whatever goals you want, but just remember that there are plenty of rewards on your journey; you still have to stop long enough to notice them though.