Success in Music is too Overrated – What is More Important?

Posted by on Aug 29, 2020, Under: Daily Tips

Become successful in the music business

American producer Caleb Murphy, author of the Musician With A Day Job blog , dedicated to musicians who combine music with daily “ordinary” work, wrote a note especially for Flypaper about the exaggerated importance of success in a musician’s life.

According to Murphy, modern society overestimates success, which leads to the fixation of musicians on achieving better results. However, according to Caleb, success is far from the first lines of the charts, concerts and platinum discs. The editorial staff of SAMESOUND.RU provides an adapted translation of the note.

The importance of success in our world is greatly exaggerated. Modern society is obsessed with success stories and instills in people the desire for it at all costs. There is nothing wrong with success itself, just as there is nothing wrong with striving for it, but the thought of necessarily achieving the best results greatly interferes with novice (and even experienced) musicians. Yes, often it is the desire for success that hinders the achievement of … success. Such is the paradox.

The danger of success

Success is dangerous. We understand this, but we ourselves deny this fact. The expectation of success distorts the perception of reality and the original goals. Writer Austin Kleon in the book , “Just go ahead: 10 ways to stay creative at all times” ( Engl. “For Keep Going the 10 Ways To Stay Creative In Good Times And Bad») writes about the success of an interesting thing:

The secret of success in any business:

  1. Find something that always inspires you and moves you forward;
  2. Make this occupation your life’s work;
  3. Repeat point number 1.

What is success from a musician’s point of view?

Success from a musician point of view

Transforming life into a never-ending concert with a full house of rowdy fans, millions of album copies and crazy after-parties. However, the problem with musicians is that they focus on the consequences of success, not on the path to it.

The secret of success in any business is to love what you are doing, devoting the maximum amount of time to it. Many will argue that this is how the occupation of a whole life turns into a routine, brings boredom, boredom and drives into melancholy. Like, with the same success you can sit in the office from morning to evening. I hasten to upset: music lessons are the same work. To achieve everything that you invented for yourself, you will have to practice music every day for several hours. It doesn’t look so rosy anymore, does it? What do you want?

Before you strive for universal glory and get upset about having to work, think about this. You have already achieved success – you have found a job that brings incredible pleasure. With due diligence, it will begin to generate a steady income. To do this, you don’t even have to be a star on stage, you can become a sound engineer, producer, session player, composer. Getting a job that brings buzz and good income is not a success? In general, success and fame are different things, remember that.

Success without embellishment

Success often ranks first in the music industry, but how is it defined? Does success have to mean you get a certain amount of money annually for your tracks? Can success be equated to recording a couple of tracks or albums over the course of a year? How do you think a musician is successful? We are glad to see the answers to these questions and your opinion in the comments.

The questions we have posed reveal a simple thought that many people forget: success is subjective. Each musician must define for himself what success is for him. Realizing your own criteria for success will make your life easier. You will stop striving for success for the sake of success, you will begin to consciously move forward without vain attempts to please everyone and everyone or prove something to this world. It will become clearer to you what exactly needs to be done to achieve the desired result.

For example, you are not interested in traveling around the country with endless concerts, but you like to write songs in your studio and come up with arrangements. Songwriting makes good money, which means you need to write more, better and more often, sell your projects and earn a reputation to make good money. Thus, success for you is not concerts and full halls, but cool songs.

Success in music and enjoyment of music

What I’m trying to say is that you need to find a business that you enjoy doing and grow professionally in order to succeed. To become a pro at something, you need to develop, hone your skills and not give up on the goal of becoming a professional in your field. With this approach, you perfectly understand what needs to be done to achieve the goal, and the fear of failure or the likelihood of not achieving success does not occupy your head.

In general, success should not become your only goal in life – it is much more important to find what you enjoy doing. However, there is one more thing worth talking about, because it is also much more important than success itself.


Your job must mean something to you. Imagine yourself in the place of an old man who can take a sober look at his life from the height of his age. What would you leave behind: music for all time or temporary fame, money and awards that only delight you?

I don’t know about you, but the choice seems obvious. Money, awards and fame are great, but wow, they don’t last forever. What will be left after? American football player Tom Brady once said :

There must be something else in life besides a bag of money.

This is a very correct phrase, although it was not said by a musician – an athlete and a Super Bowl winner. Brady is clearly not short of funds, has won the top award in the world of American football, but, as you can see, he understands perfectly well that money is a fleeting happiness.

Before chasing success, think about significance. Agree, it’s much cooler that children, grandchildren and people you love receive from you not a bag of money, but something timeless. Money can depreciate and become just candy wrappers, this will not happen with music.

Does music mean a lot to you? Imagine spending weeks, months and years in the studio, recording a dozen songs, looking for your sound, and writing an album. Finally, the album is ready – you are nervous about this event. Click and your songs are published on Spotify, Apple Music and other sites.

You are on all social media, excited about the release and at the same time a little scared.

A week passes, you check the reaction of people and find out in the statistics of auditions that your recording was listened to by a couple of hundred people.

What will be your reaction? Will you feel like you have failed and failed? Would you like to quit music after that?

The catch is that if the song you recorded means a lot to you, is associated with incredible personal experiences, then you won’t care. It doesn’t matter if people listened to her, what they think of her.

For you, this recording is beautiful and unforgettable, you presented your vision of the world through music. If the track really means something to you, then the numbers in the statistics will fade into the background – the fact that you have recorded a song or an album is more important.

This is why significance plays a key role in a musician’s life. If creativity means nothing to you, why should it mean something to the average listener? You don’t care – listeners don’t care either.

The audience perfectly feels sincerity, so it will not work to deceive people (and even more so themselves).

The meaning of music in the life of a musician

Ask yourself a simple question: “If they don’t listen to my music, will I stop making music?” If the answer is yes, then you should probably look for some other hobby.

In general, don’t chase success as such.

The music itself should mean a lot more to you than stadiums, concerts and platinum discs. I wish you success!

What do you say? How is success determined? Will you make music if they don’t listen to you?