Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Measuring Your Success

Written by Vinny Ribas of Indie Connect

Contrary to common myth, not all musicians are starry-eyed dreamers who know that any day now they will be discovered. In fact, there are many measures of success in the music industry. I feel it is of the utmost importance that every artist, musician, songwriter and in fact, everyone else in the industry thinks about and decides up front how they plan on evaluating their personal progress.

Why is this so vital? For starters, without determining these standards up front, you may very well be plodding down a path that will never give you complete satisfaction. For example, you may think that stardom is your ultimate goal, when all you really want is respect for your skills and craftsmanship. Those require two completely different plans of attack!

You also send very confusing messages to your fans about who you really are because you don’t really know yourself. For example, one night you may be on top of the world because you’re doing what really makes you happy. The next day your performance may be lacking even though it’s the same show because your mind is on the fact that you didn’t make enough money this week.

Here are some of the ways that musicians gauge the status and success of both their careers and their lives. Pick the one(s) in each category that honestly reflects your desires. Keep in mind that your feelings in each category may be different than those listed, or a combination of several answers. In that case, just write your own thoughts. The point is to know where you stand regarding each of these categories. In the end you will have a profile of what you should really be striving for in order to feel satisfied as a musician.

Money – Cash in hand
•I want lots of money.
•I want to make a comfortable, above average income.
•I need enough money to live on.
•I only need enough to supplement another income.
•Anything I make is just mad money.
•I’m fine as long as I have food on the table and a roof over my head.
•Getting paid is not important because I just do it for fun.

Fame – Number of fans, having your name and/or picture recognized by the public
•I want to be an international star.
•I love being called a celebrity.
•I want a core of real fans who love my music and me.
•I need just enough fame to be in demand.
•I want to be recognized at the local gas station.
•I just want to attract the opposite sex.
•It would be cool to get my name and picture in the papers once in a while.
•I don’t care about fame at all.

Acceptance – Having a sense of belonging
•I want everyone in the world to accept me and I am willing to ‘play the part’ that will endear me to them.
•I want to be accepted by the masses for who I really am.
•I want to be accepted by the masses as a quality entertainer.
•I want to be considered an equal by other good musicians.
•I want to be accepted by the public as an honest, caring, decent human being.
•I am comfortable with who I am and don’t feel I need to use my music to gain acceptance.
•I am a conformist and just do whatever it takes to fit in.
•I don’t care if I am rejected because I play my music for myself to enjoy.
•I am a non-conformist and enjoy bucking the system.
•I am not afraid to be outrageous.

Public Recognition – Having others know you by your name, likeness, skill, attitude etc.
•I want everyone in the world to know my name and face.
•I want my name and face to be a brand associated with product lines outside of music.
•I want to be recognized by the fans in my genre.
•I want recognition for being a hard working entertainer.
•I love signing autographs.
•I just want my boss/band to recognize what I bring to the table.
•I don’t care about recognition – just give me my paycheck.

Professional Recognition – Being known by people in the music industry
•I want to be the reason a record label makes money.
•I want to be recognized for the contribution I make to the industry.
•I want to be recognized for my performance skills.
•I want to be recognized for my skill on my instrument (or voice).
•I want to be recognized as a hard-working musician.
•I want to win lots of awards.
•An award now and then would be cool.
•I am happy with the recognition I get.
•I am not in it for recognition.

Impact – Using your music to make a difference in the world
•I want to change the world by ______________.
•I want to make a difference by ________________.
•I want to raise awareness of __________________.
•I want the world to know my political views.
•I want the world to know my religious views.
•I don’t have an agenda behind my music.
•I just want to make people happy (or think, or dance etc.)

Power – Using the influence that being a celebrity and having money carry.
•I have an agenda outside of music that requires the influence that celebrity status brings.
•I want to use my influence to implement change somehow.
•It would be great if I could get the ear of politicians and other luminaries because of my celebrity status.
•I don’t think it is right for a music star to use their influence.
•I don’t care about power of influence.
•I’ve never thought about that before.

Attention – Making headlines, being in the public eye
•I have to be the center of attention all of the time.
•I enjoy being the center of attention.
•I don’t mind being the center of attention.
•Having people focus on me is great, but I need my privacy.
•I am content if I can just shine once in a while.
•I don’t need attention – I am glad to stay in a supportive role.
•I am very private and don’t want any attention.

Respect – How others think about you
•It’s important to me that I am respected by everyone.
•I want the respect of my fans.
•I want the respect of the media.
•I want the respect of the industry.
•I want respect for my skills.
•I want respect for how I live my life (my morals and values).
•I am OK as long as I have the respect of those closest to me.
•I don’t care about respect.

Fun – How much you need to enjoy your job
•I have fun no matter what is happening.
•I make it fun.
•I like performing but hate rehearsing.
•I have fun when the audience or listener is having fun.
•I need to enjoy what I am doing or I will do something else.
•I would like to pay someone to do the things that aren’t fun for me.
•It used to be fun but now its just drudgery.
•Fun has nothing to do with it because it is just a job.
•I never have fun.

Challenge – Improving yourself and/or your craft
•I always find ways to challenge myself.
•I have to be challenged or I get bored.
•If it is no longer a challenge I will move on to something else.
•I find everything challenging.
•I am content to do what I do well and leave it at that.
•I don’t want to work that hard.

Control – Being in charge
•I need to be the boss.
•I want to be the boss someday.
•I want total control over my career.
•I want to have control over my music.
•I don’t like having a boss but I don’t want to be one either.
•I don’t mind not having control as long as I am treated fairly.
•I want someone else to be in control.
•I don’t care who is in control as long as I am getting paid.

Social Status – Being part of the ‘elite’
•I want to hobnob with the rich and famous.
•I need to be seen.
•I want my picture in the high-brow and celebrity magazines.
•I would like to be accepted by the rich and famous though not necessarily hang with them.
•I am a social butterfly and just love to be with other people.
•I just want to move up the social ladder from where I am.
•I am content with where I am on the social ladder.
•I don’t care about status at all.

Perception – How the world sees you.
•I want to be loved by everyone.
•I just want to be perceived as a decent, fair and honest human being.
•I just want to be perceived as a master of my craft.
•I would like to be perceived as a hard worker.
•I would like to be thought of as a person who follows his convictions and passions.
•I don’t care what other people think.

Security – Having enough, or more than enough to eliminate worry
•I need complete security in my life and job.
•I need complete financial security coming from my music.
•I need the security of a home and family.
•I need to make a living with my music.
•I want to make a living with my music.
•I have other sources of income that provide my financial security.
•I roll with the flow and don’t worry about security.
•I will never feel truly secure.

Risk – The willingness and ability to take chances
•I believe the greater the risk, the more the reward.
•I am willing to bet the farm if that’s what it takes.
•I will take a big risk as long as it is a calculated risk.
•I am a gambler just looking for that ‘big win’.
•I only take risks with my expendable income and extra time.
•I am very cautious when it comes to taking even small risks.
•I don’t like taking risks at all.
•I’ll only do it if I am 100% guaranteed of the result.

Work Ethic – The effort you can and will put into your success
•I am a workaholic.
•I have a strong work ethic and do whatever it takes to succeed.
•I am willing to do the work as long as I am compensated fairly.
•I am basically lazy and need direction and prodding.
•I don’t consider music as work.
•I hate work and do everything I can to avoid it.

Self-Worth – What you think of yourself
•I am happy with who I am and don’t need any reinforcement.
•I need positive reinforcement to maintain my self-respect.
•I am happy if I am loved and appreciated.
•I would like to make some changes to improve my self-worth.
•I am making changes to improve my self-worth.
•I don’t really like myself.

The key to this kind of self-evaluation is to compare your answers with the roles(s) that you play in the music industry. Is where you are bringing you the satisfaction you need? Is the path you’ve chosen going to eventually result in you being content? Are you inherently a leader or a follower? Are you willing to take the risk and do the work that will get you the position you want or are you counting on a lucky break? Do you enjoy the chase? What needs to change for you to start moving in the right direction? All of these things and more should be part of every career move you make. Without consciously knowing where you stand in each of these areas, you may very well find yourself successful in the eyes of the world, but completely unhappy on a personal level!
----------------------------------------------------------------Vinny Ribas is the CEO of Indie Connect, which he and his wife, Connie, co-founded in 2008. In the past he was a full-time touring musician (20 years), booking agent, artist manager and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also been a respected entrepreneurial consultant and the author of several books and e-books on both general business and the music industry. He and Connie live in Nashville TN.


  1. Wow - great post! excellent inventory People should think about this.

  2. super insightful-just wish there was a way to take the "score" and help decide what aspects of the music industry are a good fit-e.g, like old career tests where you have great people skills and yet should be a magician. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for your comment. Yes, well the answer lies inside of you. Many people who venture into creating music get burnt out of being on the road and always having to look their absolute best, so they go behind the scenes into production and engineering. If you can sit yourself through classes and learn the technology side of it, you can do it.

    Go to the Musicians Institute website and submit one of your songs to them. It may earn you a full paid scholarship here in Los Angeles if you win for best song.