I hate that artist, they are so annoying, their music is always playing, they look so arrogant with all their bling, they don’t deserve success and all that attention. That should be me.”
Any of this sound like you?
I was there once, cursing and cussing anyone getting more attention that me. At the time I believed I deserved the attention more than them, I was working harder, my music sounds better. I believed that their career was only going better because they had more money or family contacts. I used this excuse to justify why i wasn’t doing well and why they were. If only i had money and family contacts then I would be successful. This excuse made me feel better.
But does it?
How can I really conclude anything about these successful artists. I’ve never met the them and all I know about them is from interviews or music industry hearsay. Can I trust this to be true? or the full story? All I see is what the artist or media wants us to see, do you see all the hard work? did you even know they had been grafting years before you put pen to paper?
Sometimes their life story gets twisted into something more exotic so it reads better for the fans. How can you ever compare yourself to a falsified story?
Maybe the artist comes across arrogant, which only adds to your hatred for their success. Why are they arrogant? Maybe they feel insecure so they like to show off to receive praise. A lot of the artists we see in the media aren’t as rich as we think they are. A lot of their assets are sponsorship gifts and they only have them for the duration of the photoshoot. Or they have blown all their record deal advances on short term material goods rather than saving for future on such as getting a house.
It’s nice to be acknowledged for your craft and hardwork but should it matter how much attention you or them are receiving? Only if you are interested in raising your social status. But then, an increase in social status is linked with worse relationships and anxiety. So should we really be that envious?
Maybe they come across as arrogant because their success has created a lot of haters, they can’t handle it so they like to show off. A strange paradoxical twist of irony eh? Do you really want to compare yourself with this person?
Now lets look at me/you. Is our music really better than theirs? I mean you’re comparing your music to what could be carefully crafted pop music. Pop music isn’t 100% art like yours. There’s also a marketing aspect: cliche hook lines, predictable structures and familiar sounds. Are you willing to make this compromise? Is a successful song the one that sells the most copies or the one that is true to the artist? Maybe the popular artist your comparing yourself to isn’t interested in creating amazing works of art and is just interested in getting to the number 1 spot. Are you willing to go down this route ? No. Then why are you comparing yourself to this person.
Ok, so maybe this hated artist does have more money, maybe a family member got them a shortcut into the industry. It’s frustrating when you try so hard and other people get it easy but remember for all the instant fame they receive they will still have this need to prove themselves, they still need to keep their fame momentum going. Things that come easy won’t hold much intrinsic value. Will they still be around in a few years? Will their fan base be loyal when the money drys up?. Your path may take longer but then maybe your relationships with your fans will be deeper and more embedded. You will have a sense of accomplishment that they will never have.
At the end of the day, we never know the full picture of those we compare ourselves to, so we can never judge Everyone is on a different journey so we can never copy them. We give it our best, enjoy as much as we can and stick to our principles.
Jon Hockley is the lead consultant of The Artist Potential which is an artist development and consultancy service. He has worked in the music business for 15 years and is obsessed with personal development.