There’s something quite misleading about seeing artists we love in their studios, especially when there’s all the gear one can dream of. On one hand, you see someone accomplished with all that equipment and you might be thinking that the success brought all that gear or perhaps, the gear made that success. Then, on the other hand, you see yourself in that exact position where you dream to be the spotlight of everyone else. In both cases, you can imagine success all around and the studio is the key to get to your goals.
Chasing perfection is like running after a mirage in the desert. It is basically hunting a ghost, not knowing if that ghost is really exists in the first place.
In past posts, I explained some challenges regarding that and how to work with a definition of done so that you can have a better idea of where you’re heading.
The music industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. With the rise of digital music streaming services, social media, and other digital platforms, the traditional model of chasing success in music production is now an outdated approach. In this blog post, we will discuss why chasing success in music production is a failed model, and provide alternatives for musicians to achieve fulfillment in their music career.
The Misconception of Success
One of the biggest misconceptions in the music industry is the definition of success. Many musicians view success as achieving fame, wealth, and recognition for their music. However, this definition is narrow and incomplete. All those can’t be measured. You might think that a certain number of followers on a social media will provide some sort of success, but once you have that amount of people, you will realize that it doesn’t bring any passive income or more sales. You need to continue working hard times to get something out of it, which will be taking time away from your studio use. Same for sales. You might make a bunch, but then what? You’ll be chasing something else. Success in music should be viewed as a personal accomplishment, rather than an external validation. I often refer to that as perhaps, happiness.
Alan Watts, a British philosopher, once said, “The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious, and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” This quote perfectly illustrates the importance of finding personal fulfillment in the music-making process, rather than chasing external validation.
The Context of Success
Another aspect that musicians often overlook when chasing success is the context in which success occurred. The success of an artist is not just a result of their talent, but also a result of timing, luck, and other external factors. The movie “Searching for Sugarman” tells the story of Sixto Rodriguez, a musician who achieved critical acclaim in South Africa in the 1970s but remained unknown in the US. The film highlights the importance of context in success, and how success can be achieved in unexpected ways.
Alternatives view to Chasing Success
So, if chasing success in music production is a failed model, what are the alternatives? Here are some alternatives to consider:
- Focus on the Creative Process (the journey)
One of the best ways to find fulfillment in music production is to focus on the creative process. Rather than obsessing over the end result, focus on the journey and enjoy the process of creating music. This approach will help you stay motivated and inspired, and ultimately lead to a more fulfilling music-making experience. As this is easier said than done, how do I do that? Well, when one is focused on the end result, you’ll get annoyed if something goes wrong: for example, a synth doesn’t sound as you have in your initial vision. Focusing on the process mostly means that you’re curious about the task you’re doing at the moment and less trying to perfect things.
TIP: Try to have 50% of your studio sessions aimed at doing nothing but jamming and having fun instead of be productive.
- Develop Your Skills
Another way to achieve fulfillment is to focus on developing your skills. The more you practice and refine your craft, the more you will grow as a musician. One thing I tell people is that you’ll learn more by starting 100 songs than trying to perfect one. When you start 100 different projects, the goal is to face a different challenge each time. It could be a new technique, the use of a new plugin or an unusual sound. This will not only lead to personal satisfaction but will also make you a more competitive and capable musician in the industry.
TIP: Try to start 100 songs then work with them in alternating.
- Connect with Your Immediate Audience
One of the most rewarding aspects of music production is connecting with your audience. The mistake most people make is to try to reach out to people who don’t really care. What you need to do is foster the close people who could care, which I call (no pun intended) the circle of five (wink to the circle of fifth). This approach will not only provide a sense of fulfillment but will also help you build a sustainable music career.
TIP: Commit to connecting with your 5 people and create a dynamic where everyone can help each other.
- Set Realistic Goals
While it’s important to focus on the journey rather than the destination, setting realistic goals can help you stay on track and motivated. Rather than setting goals based on external validation, focus on setting goals that are meaningful to you and align with your personal values. Question your goals, talk to experienced mentors and producers and then try to scale down your projects to a minimum.
Tip: make a list of different sounds you love or songs you often listen to and then aim at trying to understand what you love it. Then work towards in making music you love.
Chasing success in music production is an outdated and failed model. The music industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, and success can no longer be defined by traditional metrics such as album sales or chart performance. Instead, musicians should focus on finding personal fulfillment in the creative process, developing their skills, connecting with their audience, and setting realistic goals.
As Alan Watts said, the meaning of life is simply to be alive. The same can be said for music production. The most important aspect of music production is finding personal fulfillment in the process of creating music. So, rather than chasing success, focus on the journey and enjoy the process of making music.