Everyone wants to be successful. It is hard to imagine not wanting to be successful, especially for us creative types. We all want to do our creativity for a living, at least the die hard people. Some of us are realistic, we know not everyone can reach those high levels of success given there are so many people doing similar things. But if you define success correctly, all of us indeed, can be successful.
In my book, Mastering The Music Business, I break down the fundamentals of success and what it is. At the core of this conversation, success is doing what you love for a living. What success isn't: fame, billions of dollars, a plane, extravagant cars, million dollar houses and the like.
Now I know what you're thinking, if this isn't success then you assume I must be stupid, dumb, or not understanding of what it is to be successful. But am I really? Can you really say that doing what you love for a living and being able to pay the bills through this isn’t being successful?
We have to take everything into consideration when we are talking about ones success. If you are able to quit your 9-5 job through your art, this is fundamentally what it means to be successful. You have achieved the first step of success, and maybe even the last step too. It means that you are doing so good through your art that you are able to start living a full life off of your craft. This is what we all should be striving to accomplish in our art, if you want to be successful. It is also the realistic version of success.
We shouldn't put down our accomplishments just because we are not famous. How many people do you know who are famous? Most of you would probably answer none, yet you can name at least one person you know who is successful. If they are not famous but successful, then ask yourself, what makes them a success? Why are they successful and not famous but you need to be famous to be successful? Why do we downplay our success?
The main reason is probably because we have be conditioned to dub success as being famous. You see it all the time in the music industry, so and so got signed to a record label and came out with a hit song and now they are successful. While this is not an untrue statement, it is the wrong way to judge our own career. The chances of you creating a hit song and getting international exposure from it are slim, to say the least. And we can’t forget that the person who got singed and came out with a hit song was a success before this happened, because the deal never would of happened if they weren’t already successful.
It is not realistic to say you are successful until you have achieved this level of exposure, because it will never happen for you. This will never happen for you because most of you don’t do what it takes to really get to those levels. I have talked with and worked with lots of people who claim this song they just did is going to be a hit. But they never follow through with anything else that will push the song into the lime light. They forget all about marketing, or don’t have any kind of budget to market their song. They post it on Youtube or Spotify and think that is all they need to do to get the fame they are looking for. Did that work out for them, or for you, just posting the song on a couple of websites? No? That is strange, I mean surely just posting it on Youtube will make you famous, right? Wrong!
Lets stop pretending that all you need to do is post a song on a website and the money will come rolling in. It is not realistic in the slightest. It takes money to promote your music and get it to the masses. How is anybody from outside of your home town ever going to hear this song without a marketing campaign to get it visible in other cities? You need to build a marketing campaign and invest money in order to get the exposure you seek. It won’t just happen because you posted it on Youtube. And just because you post it on Facebook means nothing. No one is going to see it unless you get shares and likes, and even then it is not going to happen because you need lots and lots of shares and likes to be noticed by the world at large.
Stop thinking fame is the answer, it isn’t. Start thinking that bringing in $3,000 a month is the answer, because it is.
How do you reach a $3,000 a month income through your art? First, let us recognize that if you do achieve this it means you are a success, because you are at this point, you are making good money doing what you love. This is more money than minimum wage will bring you, and chances are you will be so much happier because you get to do your art instead of working in a office or at a restaurant for a living.
The real way to achieve this level of income is by diversification. Yes, diversification. If you play guitar, why not give guitar lessons? How about offering to teach people how to better tune their own guitar? How about taking your guitar and playing it on the street? You could start a band and play in some coffee shops for tips. You could start a band and practice till you drop so you are so good that when you play a live show you impress the hell out of people. You could learn how to read sheet music so you can be a session guitar player for other people. You could use your guitar to make cool sound design sounds and get them placed on peoples videos on Youtube. And the list goes on and on. But what you have to realize is that you need to be doing all these things, not just one of them, if you want to be successful and bring in this type of money.
When we get caught up in the being famous game, we loose every time. It is not fame that makes us successful, it is our diversification and drive that will make us successful. Success = freedom. Success is doing what you want to do in life and being able to support yourself. Fame is an outcome of being successful, not the other way around.