Redefining Success In The Music Industry

Posted by Aaron Davison on Thursday, February 7, 2013 Under: February 2013

If your definition of “making it” in the music business is selling millions of records and becoming  a “rock star” then by that definition very few musicians are ever successful.  It’s good to have some sort of measuring stick when it comes to measuring success, otherwise how would you ever know if  you’re on the right track.

The problem with setting the bar so high though, is that it can create a lot of frustration if you fail to live up to your own expectations.  I know very few musicians who are bonafide “rock stars”, in fact I only personally know one and he’s more of a country star. But I do know a lot of musicians that I would consider successful, musicians that are actively building careers and carving out their own paths in the music industry.

When I was younger I studied guitar with the Chicago based jazz guitarist John Mclean, who is certainly a huge success in his own right.  I once asked him if he ever got bitter about the fact that groups like the Spice Girls (who were famous at the time) were more famous and known than he was, when in my opinion he possessed way more talent.  His answer, and I’m paraphrasing, but he said something like “both becoming famous and developing talent are huge mountains to climb but that they are different mountains”.  In other words, talent and fame are not mutually exclusive and although they sometimes overlap, they don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other.  His response always stayed with me.  I’ve forgotten most of the conversations we had during the brief time we studied together but I never forgot that one.

My personal definition of success is very simple.  It’s when you’re doing what you love to do and you’re moving forward.  That’s it. If you’re doing that, you’re way more successful than most and if you keep doing that you might just actually become a rock star or country star or whatever kind of star you ultimately want to become.  But even if you don’t, if you love what you’re doing and you do it with all your heart and soul on a regular basis, you’re already living the dream in my opinion.

What about you?  How do you define success for yourself?  What kind of goals are you setting?  What does “living the dream” mean to you?  Let me know in the comments!

In : February 2013 

Tags: music industry  music business  music licensing  music publishing 
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