Shh… don't let them know I've got NO drive to succeed

(Originally posted to my Facebook account, on Thursday, 21 April 2011 at 11:28)

When it comes to aims in life, we have to start from where we are and build up brick by brick. I have been pondering on the truth of this with regards to music recently.

I have observed that there is a current trend for a major lable to back and artist for 2 albums. If the first is successful they will fund a second, but by the time a 3rd is required, a record lable can get a much better buzz by funding a new band. The artist can be at best, left to their own devices with the benefit of 2 tours under their belt, or at worst deliberately buried by the record lable.

 

In this industry there is a strange pressure to succeed very quickly, and build up what would be considered a ridiculous curve of profit in a very short space of time, compared to any other business model. Record lables love to pick up 18 year olds and make them international success stories, so there’s a pressure for unsigned/independent artists to compete, and make it nationally/internationally by the age of 25 at least.  They also love to pick people with NO history in the industry and turn them into national heros within a few months (x factor etc).

In reality, for an independent artist, a comfortable curve of development to reach that level of success from ground zero in a stable way is a minimum of 10 years. And it’s becoming my increasing belief that if it were to take even longer, for example, 20 or 50 years, far from calling that a failure, it may be an even more pleasant journey.

In fact, this capitalist concept of success is ultimately damaging. The act of being a musician is just this: Make music. Make music make music…. and the rest will come as a product. A person who loves making music will make music every day for all the days of their lives, and eventually, by cause an effect this will cut out how their life will go. They may be asked to play for others, or teach others, or share music in some other ways. And naturally, since they gravitate towards these suggestions they will accept opportunities as they come. But ultimately, if they are genuinely a musician then they will feel fulfilled when they are making music every day, and this will flow easily. I truly believe that there are ways of doing this without having to struggle, or feel pressure to succeed.

To everyone out there who is struggling for money as a professional musician, here are a couple of ideas that I like.

-I’d rather be a struggling musician than a struggling accountant.

-If I already make music every day, then I it can’t get any better than this.

I am 26. I have recorded and independently released 4 albums and am currently recording a 5th. I play live locally and on short tours up to london. I teach individual guitar lessons, classes at a Music College, and run workshops and Master Classes for groups. I also run a recording studio from home in which I’ve produced 2 Eps, 3 Albums and several Singles besides my own recordings. I gravitate towards performance environments in which my music can flourish. I have no career plans.

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One response to “Shh… don't let them know I've got NO drive to succeed

  1. Kimwei, your wisdom is fresh and sustaining. It’s a real joy to read your perspective. Thank you for living – and playing – the way you do.