Defining "Success" as an Emerging Artist
I’ve been turning my mind towards the idea of what “success” really means as an emerging artist. Sure it’s nice to win songwriting contests (and I know some friends of mine that have), but what does that really mean in the larger sense. Someone liked a particular song you wrote more than other songs that other people wrote. I recently came across a song that probably never won a songwriting award that was first recorded by Chet Atkins, then Tommy Emannuel, called “I Still Can’t Say Goodbye”. It was was seriously sentimental but for some reason really connected with me a choked me up. But as far as I know it never won an award for its technical excellence as a song.
My friend (and to my mind a very successful artist), Amy Speace, just posted on her Facebook page that she considered herself success writing and finishing a new song while on her morning run. For her music is her livelihood as well as her passion, besides being a really nice person in general. I recently tried to get into one of the “official” NERFA showcases for their upcoming conference in November. I struck out on that score. But to balance matters out, I was selected by two other emerging artists to accompany them at their NERFA showcase because of my musical skills and have, in addition, been invited to appear as a solo artists at 4 different guerrilla showcases at the NERFA conference for a total of 14 performances over a period of 4 days. To my mind, THAT is “success”. Gosh, I’m looking forward to that extended weekend!
I therefore believe that “success” (at least where the emerging artist is concerned) is an internal concept. It’s what makes you happy as a musician without necessarily involving the external approval of the “outside world”; it is not the explicit judgment of others that makes one “successful” as an emerging artist; rather, it is the implicit approval that comes indirectly from circumstances turning out your way. I may never win a Grammy Award (although I’m honest enough to say that it would be nice), but I don’t measure my success by that kind of criteria. I have a rising number of gigs, people want me to accompany them because of how I play guitar, and I love the appreciation of the smaller audiences that claps their hearts out when I perform. What more could I ask for to really feel like a “success”?
Food for thought.