How to "Make It" in the Music Industry.
If you are pursuing a career in the music industry, without a doubt, you have thought or heard the all-encompassing question that is, how does one “make it” in this business? You may have paid for producers to give you “that sound” that’s marketable, or attended conferences and panels to gain more knowledge on achieving your desires; perhaps, you've even paid to sit in rooms with reputable professionals who aren't really sure themselves the formulaic path one creates in order to achieve this perplexing concept of “making it.” Is this notion of “making it” a sham? Or just a gimmick the industry has contrived for naive dreamers to pursue without fault?
I don’t think so. Matter of fact, I don't believe one can make it in this industry at all.
Let’s break it down. What even is success and can it be defined? According to Merriam Webster, success is this: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
The idea of “success” has changed throughout history. What was once something fluid and individualistic, has been modified into some form of tangible evidence of materialistic wealth. Meaning, we perceive success as something that is profitable or can be shared with the masses through social media. We no longer find the wealth of our day in the living, but the sharing. What our platforms portray online, defines our success it seems. The popular saying amongst millennial culture is “If you didn't post about it, did it really happen?” And that idea is so frightening… I believe that success is fluid; what one may consider to be successful, may not be to the next. However, the lines become blurry when people begin to discredit those who achieve what they consider to be successful. Waking each and every morning with air in my lungs and a pillow to lay my head upon is a massive success to me. But some might say that’s just a necessity in life— not an accomplishment. And I would politely counter them with this thought: How many people are longing just for somewhere to sleep tonight? Or longing for their next meal today? When we begin to compare what we deem to be successful, that is when hostility, envy, and lust begins to find its way into our hearts.
I grabbed coffee with a dear friend of mine the other day who just moved to town. She was contemplating the different goals and dreams she had that would check the box off of “making it.” It went something like this,
Perform often, Get a publishing deal, An artist deal, Create a fan base, so on and so forth…
To be very clear, nothing is wrong with this list. Dreams are beautiful, and the incentive in which keeps us moving in the more mundane seasons of life. However, when hearing this list that I myself have also created in the past, I was reminded of multiple other friends of mine who are living that “made it” lifestyle.
They have popular songs on the radio. They make a living being a full-time musician. They tour all around the world and receive recognition for their craft. For all intents and purposes, they are living the life my friend is trying to achieve— AND so many others are. But yet, when I speak to those who have “made it” the atmosphere of our conversations seem to pan out just like they did with my friend that is new to Nashville!
They want more songs to be cut, they desire new dreams & aspirations, they long to attain more power within the industry…
They themselves discovered that when they achieved what they THOUGHT would make them content, only made them hungry for more. I feel this idea has a very deep-rooted painful emotion attached to it; Perhaps it’s because in our human nature, we are in the constant state of filling the void. We seek out happiness in people, jobs, money, sex, recognition, and fame. When we begin to achieve these things, we soon realize that the void we thought they’d fill is still empty as ever. Why?
Success can not and will not change your heart. It will possibly adjust your day to day life, your finances, and the opinion others may have of you… but that doesn't mean our flawed nature ceases to exist after we reach our “made it” threshold. It alters our reality, not our souls.
So what or who can fulfill this void? What can even the playing field, making us as a society no longer a multi-ethnic, multi-economic, multi-generational divide, but into a society of one. (I know I sound like a major hippie) A culture of support & equality for the masses. A place where success is no longer something that can merely be defined with a few brief sentences; but a large individualistic opinion that is so broad and vast that it could never truly be defined. A group of people that could thrive in their diversity, dreams, and differences.
I believe this idea is possible when one accepts a relationship with Jesus. I believe the void can be filled through Him and with Him by walking hand in hand each step of the way. He eradicated the concept of society perceiving his journey as something “successful.”
Jesus was sent down to die. He knew His life would be one of persecution and hatred from those who chose to deny Him. His life was a sacrifice, and yet His purpose was accomplished. Just as Merriam Webster defined success, AN AIM OR PURPOSE, though the greater part of society during Jesus’s time accused Him of being a fraud and liar, his purpose was achieved by giving us the ability to have a personal relationship with Him.
He was deemed not successful by the Pharisees or even His own people, the Jews— yet, He is the man that changed the course of History as we know it.
Our accolades and accomplishments can’t carry the load of our hearts. They are fleeting, temporary things, which are here today and gone tomorrow! No matter the success, it is in our nature to desire more in order to fill what can never be replaced; that being a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
When we allow Him to control our lives, comparison dissipates, envy dies, the pool of hatred drys up & we are given new eyes— a new perspective of hope, faith, belief, joy, and peace floods our hearts.
Whether you “make it” or not, in whatever industry, solely relies on your stability in yourself and what you consider successful. I can say personally, that since I have begun to trust God with my dreams and goals, He has paved the way for each and every step. I do my part because I know faith without action is dead, but He is the one at the end of the day orchestrating it all together.
Our stories all have a unique, glorious purpose; to deny ourselves this reality is to miss the reason for our entire existence.
Here’s what God thinks:
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” Galatians 5:22-26
God’s plan for you is so much grander than our earthly dreams or goals. He knitted you in your mother’s womb & wrote your story. Now live it.
I love you all so much!