What Passes for Success in the Music Industry?

I believe that “entrepreneur” is the most overused term in the music industry now. It’s like a resume buzz word or something where every person even remotely connected to a business has to call themselves that. My definition of the word would be someone who starts their own business with the intent of making it into a financial success. In today’s music industry, there are people who start a blog, link to a couple bands, and call themselves an entrepreneur marketing expert and promoter. That’s it. They don’t expect to make any money, and they define success by having somebody else even hint at them being a peer. It’s all about networking, and 2.0s, and acknowledgment. It makes no sense to me.

I guess that the actual point of the post is this: these guys and gals should be specifying what their barometers for success are, and I have a couple of good reasons. I was reading a Q&A with one industry person who seemed to be really successful, and somebody actually asked a question I’d never thought to ask before: “What would you define as your biggest success?” There was another part to the question too I think, but the answer was basically that financially, there hadn’t been any success and it somewhat surprised me. Shouldn’t that be a disclaimer somewhere?

These days there’s this mantra of the starving indie artist who “only wants to be heard” and doesn’t care about money (right…), but more and more there’s marketers, agents, and managers taking on the same mantra, only because it’s the only way they can make it into the industry. The problem is, they talk of “success” and all these things they do, but none of it would be beneficial to an artist. And yes, there are artists who are interested in not only making music, but feeding their family and paying their bills.

I guess the point is, if you’re calling yourself something, justify it in some way. You don’t have to constantly be saying what you’ve done, but if you have a website or blog and on it you’re calling yourself a success, somewhere on the site there should be something that defines what your idea of success is. I really hate hearing “success stories” like “how I gave away my music and it was a huge success” and having to dig and dig only to find out that the artist managed to get 400 people to download her album for free. I thought it was a joke, but sadly it wasn’t.