Defining Success in the Music Industry

In almost every case aspiring musicians like you and I take influence from big names in the industry, and wish to one day reach their lofty heights. More often than not though there isn’t enough demand for the overwhelming supply of music, leaving some feeling like a failure.

Which leads me on to today’s discussion point. What is failure and success in the music industry?

My immediate response is that you as an individual set your own parameters. You can take this music thing as far as you want, from playing guitar for yourself to jamming with friends once in a while, to national tours. It is up to you to decide what you want from music.

One important thing to understand is how crowded the music market is, and with big labels formulaic-ally churning hit after hit, a Number 1 single isn’t likely from someone on the small music circuit. If Springsteen can’t get a Number 1, don’t count your chickens!

The late Tom Petty says it best with-“Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s success.” This has shaped my outlook on making it in the music industry. The average person spends 90,000 hours working, so you might as well do something you enjoy.

If you do set your sights on mainstream success with a major label behind you, and you don’t achieve that, is it a failure? Relative to pop stars, yes, but compared to other DIY musicians you may still be earning your living from what you love instead of waiting tables to supplement it.

Whatever your aspirations, remember that the joy is not in the destination, but in the journey.

Marc Gallagher