So what IS success and how do you get there?

I’ve moved this across because it seemed to me to be in the wrong place. So what IS success.
A few years ago, a couple of song me and my missus wrote/recorded made it to the heights of the US indie charts. They took off because some friendly DJs in Nashville liked them and ran with them. It took work to get them to those DJs but they took off. Many of those guys remain close friends. SO getting stuff out there CAN be about who you know.
In 2012, we pushed out an album. A single track (one my wife who co wrote it, HATES) on it took off in Finland, Estonia, Spain, Sweden, Germany and to a lesser extent France. No idea why, but streams of those songs still pulls in small royalty checks every six months and the stats show they pull hundreds of streams every month. BIZARRE since we did NOTHING to promote it outside my own web site.
My proudest moment has been Sir Bobby’s Song. It’s a track I wrote in just 20 minutes the morning my soccer manager hero died. I did VERY little promo for it, just letting the soccer club know it was there (alongside dozens of similar tribute songs.)
It’s had tens of thousands of Youtube views and a production company picked it up and used it as closing theme music for a National Radio tribute show about Sir Bobby. That pulls in royalties on every repeat (usually annually)
My point is NOT to boast about achievements (if that’s what they are) but to show there can sometimes by no logical reason why something works and sometimes you can pin it to a guy called Greg and a woman called Debbie in Nashville or whereever.

I’d love to hear other folks’ experiences of getting stuff on air etc.

Its interesting, just reading a Tom Petty book for Christmas and that song / album Free Falling was turned down by the exec’s etc…etc… whats that say about the biz?

They mentioned the word fate a few times in the book. Luck + Effort?

Its like playing live sometimes a huge crowd shows up and no promotion or anything, other nights 4 disgruntled drunks show up. ya neva know.

Like you said you got the one piece to DJ’s and they made it happen.

A lot of people record in EMI/Abbey Road but no one else has become the Beatles.
A lot of people do heroin and they dont become Jimmy Page.

If it was a easy formula everyone would do it. The streaming download thing is a game changer. You hear about people making big money off an APP, so its probably the same thing.

I think the Effort only gets it part way, then Luck/Fate is needed for the money and crowds buying it or downloading it for free these days.

Nowadays, you have to be good at marketing, which probably starts by being a social media whore.
If you’re just a musician, then tough luck!

Well thanks a bunch you flea-brained twat. :smiley:
That means I’m not a musician and I’m a whore. Can’t the "moderators do something about this overt abuse?

Oh come on Shack! You know perfectly well this is not directed to you!
I respect your success, have heard a few songs of yours in the past and believe it’s perfectly deserved.
I’m just saying that in general nowadays, to get your music out there, you need to be good at marketing and spend a lot of time online promoting your music. Not everything is about you! :wink:

The smiley face make me think he didn’t mean that offensively, and the comment to the moderators was probably just sarcastic.

This whole thing about brits insulting people as a compliment is a little bizarre. Hmmmm.

I think this is the nugget of wisdom to take away. Like C-S mentioned in the OP - he shopped the songs around a lot.

I just had a FB discussion with the typical “I sent my xxxx to everyone and no one gives me a reply.”

The entitlement attitude of a lot of artists out there just kills me sometimes! You have to work at marketing and give people a reason to connect with your art. When it comes down to it, 99.9% of the music out there is easily forgettable on its own. You’ve got to go out and give people a reason to want it!

There’s also the flip side of being realistic … it’s cute and all with the “follow your passion” or “try, try again” lines, but there’s a point, after knocking yourself senseless against a wall, where you have to sit down and reevaluate your approach to selling your art and whether or not art-as-a-career is a viable option.

Coquet is probably has a lot of frustrating stories about the blood-sweat-tears that went into marketing their songs. And that’s usually the way it happens - taking a something that has potential and putting the tenacity behind it (being a “pleasant pain in the ass”) to get it over the top. It’s very rare where something just “happens” and refreshing to see a story that illustrates the reality - getting “success” is not just about creating the art and it’s not easy.


Well to answer the original question, what is success and do you get there? Success is defined by a goal and accomplishing it. The biggest hurdles of a musician is that you either have set your goals way too high or the goal is infinitely changing; as you keep progressing your goal changes. When I started playing guitar I said I only want to be able to do X, well I have well surpassed that and my progression and the bands/ people I play with push and change that path. Ultimately your success or failure can only be defined by the individual. Letting others determine your own worth is a terrible path to follow, even though that is entirely what the record industry is.

Once the goal is defined, you have to find the path to get there. There is effort and there is luck. In my local scene there is also the cool factor, but even that you requires a little effort and luck.

Shack, I believe, as he stated, what was said was not directed to you. He was speaking in general. There is nothing wrong with being a musician and a social media whore,… whatever it takes to get the bills paid.

The idea of success/failure is a strange one to me. I don’t think in terms of succeeding of failing. The moment you’ve decided that you succeeded, then you just set a new goal anyway and forget about the old one anyway.

Success is when you are excited to wake up in the morning to do whatever it is you are going to do that day. If you make a living tracking rap vocals, and you hate tracking rap vocals, it’s not really success, is it? Even if there are other people that would kill to do that for a living.

I measure success on how many days per week I have to wear pants. The fewer, the better.


I too, find ‘success’ to be a highly variable construct…
Some days I describe it very differently to others. A recent collaboration I did on soundcloud had 358k plays and yet I just found that funny. I guess maybe I’m more pragmatic, is that the word? I still feel a great sense of success that I can now record and mix stuff up that is more to my liking than when I got others to do it.

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I’ll feel successful when I can write and record any song I want without anybody’s help. Until then, here’s to learning.

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When I hear success, I think often about being famous. But I think it’s uninteresting and counterproductive to seek for that success as the holy grail, at least for most of us. But I will never say no to some recognition.

We better should take the success as the result of achieving a goal. Then the goal could be whatever you want it to be. I’m pretty sure we’ll end up with more interesting song in the charts…

I assume I wouldn’t be here sharing my music or thoughts if “some recognition” wasn’t a sort of goal.

Some time ago, I tried to sell records. I succeeded in pulling other album out, which was a goal on it’s own and a reward. I sold some album. But never reach any kind of “success” in term of fame, nor the band. It was a Success VS the other success story.

that is a useful post :wink:

It’s easier in Britain.

As is ‘fame’ or ‘wealth’. Wealth perhaps the most tangible, but still a construct. I mean…at what point is someone officially considered famous? lol

I produced a stupid joke track for a local church. They put it on youtube and the damn thing has 4 million views. When your most successful video is rooted in sheer Christmas holiday dumbness what does say about the merits of your work? I’ll pm the link of you wanna see it.


A mix I did got retweeted 76 times today, even by one guy with 50k+ followers!

Guys, I’m pretty sure I made it… better start working on that resignation letter for the ol’ J.O.B.

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That’s my definition of success. If you can pay the bills and live a normal life solely through earnings from your musical activities, then you’re a success. That puts musicians, songwriters, recordists etc. on a par with plumbers, electricians etc. and I think that’s fair enough. Music is a massive part of life for many people these days, and I don’t see why the people involved in its production shouldn’t be able to put bread on the table as a result of their efforts.

As far as generating money is concerned, the best ways I have found so far are:

  1. Get paid by people to record them making noises.
  2. Play loads of gigs and have a well stocked merch table.
  3. Become mildly popular and sell your self-released stuff online.

These are all things over which you have full control. You can make them happen yourself without relying on any third parties.

FYI paid dowloads are a thing of the past, they are about 2% of the market. If people want to download your stuff they will - and they won’t be paying for it, so you might as well offer good quality versions of your stuff for free in return for an email address so that you can build up a marketing list.

If you want to sell stuff, despite what the music industry would have you believe, CDs are where its at. There will always be physical products because people love to own something tactile that they can cherish. That’s why there are so many collectors in the world (of anything). You can hardly ‘collect’ a streamed song can you?


Agreed - I was also being facetious, still not quite ready to pull THAT trigger… but getting closer

  • Got multiple songs on different radio stations (FM and Online) all over the world that I’ve either produced, mixed, or played on, with more dropping every week or two
  • Have a backlog of paid studio work (mixes mostly) that would probably take me a solid week of 8 hour days to get through
  • Lots of future recording prospects
  • Some awesome collaborations / regular clients
  • Playing in a couple bands, both of which have proven themselves enough to no longer be in the realm of “freebie” gigs (though only gigging once a month or so, as fulltime work + part time studio leaves little time for practice/gigs/booking etc.)
  • Have a 25% stake in a music technology startup which SHOULD move ahead this year (we invented a recording device that is unlike any other on the market - at the prototyping stage now)
  • Working on a music education video series that I plan to sell online (recording/production focused)

Was shooting for September 2017 as my ‘transition’ to full time music but the economics of that are not looking great at the moment. Summer may change that however. I think diversification is the key.

I’ve also noticed that what used to be considered a big win (i.e. getting a song on radio) no longer gives the same dopamine burst - still pretty cool/exciting, but my threshold for ‘awesome’ is much higher as I’ve had multiple ‘wins’ and still not seen that million dollar check show up in the mail :wink:

Attempting to be successful with music is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, no question.


More power to your elbow, man. That’s a fantastic set of objectives. Stay strong.

Yeah go for it! In my day (early 20’s) I would have given anything to become a full time musician. Maybe I wasn’t good enough, maybe I didn’t have the right connections (no internet or even computers then), maybe I just wasn’t brave enough to make a choice and go for it. It was difficult then, but certainly not easier now. At least I used to get paid a reasonable amount for gigs. On the other hand recording in a real studio was out of my league then. So my current view on success is that I can finally record the songs I wrote in the last 45 years or so, to leave behind as my claim to eternity (hoping my kids might play them once or twice after I’m gone). Is there any truth to the idea that recording is just a way to live on “just a little bit longer, just a little bit longer…” (Jackson Browne of course)?

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