‘Success’: Enigma of a Lifetime

Music Diary – 25/06/23

“The void was so empty. Out of nowhere came something new… CONTENT! But wait, it’s just another drop in the ocean…”

Since I post my ‘craft’ much more, and maybe because I’m a ‘tiny’ act, a lot of people around ask questions. Too many questions! But one specific question comes back the most often…

“What’s success to you?”

The one question litterally everyone will be faced with. Humans seem so obsessed with this. People trying to sell you the idea of ‘being successful’ are all over social media. The worst thing is, so many are there to promote themselves or exploit your dream by promising you this elusive holy grail of ‘success’ against MONEY! Yes, MONEY!

But they are not the only ones. When you think you’re finally alone, app developers come around and say : HEY, you! You want SUCCESS? More FOLLOWERS? Give us some MONEY! For ADS! We swear it’ll work!

Whether social media ads actually work is something for another day. But I think you may start to see my point.

Drops in an Ocean governed by Giant Sea Monsters

As anyone trying to achieve anything, it seems we live in a world constantly telling us that we are not good enough. It feels like most influencers are simply instructing us what we should do to be ‘successful’ based on their own example. Meanwhile, social media ‘gurus’ fill their pockets with their latest ‘hack the business’ online course, using a handful success stories as bait for thousands of suckers to choke up their hard earnt cash. Everyone follows the SAME advice given by the SAME people following the SAME patterns. Not to mention, it’s only people with enough influence to give this advice in the first place doing all the talking. What we end up with is asepticized art. All the same, trying to achieve the same stuff.

Case study: Cat Meow Remixes

So many fashions on social media could be used as case studies for this. But this is just a good example of ‘trendy content’ hypes we’ve seen in music which has been over exploited to the point where it all blends into one, somewhat unoriginal concept. Loads of people used this sort of video to go ‘viral’, increase their reach etc…

So what is the formula? Basically, create any sound track that vaguely fits on top of a funny sound and film yourself recording it. It doesn’t even need to fit that well or be that good as long as it’s funny. Cat meow, dog woof, frog croak, chair creek… Honestly, whatever does the job.

Don’t get me wrong, this was funny and entertaining… The first ten times. But I’m surely not the only one who gets a bit tired of seeing stuff like this after you’ve seen litteral hundreds of them already all over the internet. It’s ALL THE SAME.

‘But Doran, you can’t really complain about something you don’t have to watch!’

You’re right. And this isn’t a complaint: I hide this kind of post from my feed so that it stays interesting for me. Instead, I support content creators who really innovate in my opinion and try to buck the trend. I’m just using this example to make a point here, bear with me!

Feed the algorithm

Every idea that was creative and successful at first gets bled out dry on social media until it becomes so unoriginal that it loses all the appeal it had in the first place for me. This is because of how algorithms work and drive the content on social media platforms. Users know this and how to exploit it, which leads to a lot of things being ‘samey’ on social media and everywhere else.

It doesn’t help as well that there are litteral millions of people trying to achieve a million things, with app developpers more than happy to exploit their ambition. So imitating templates that work has become the number one advice you end up hearing:

“Because X ammount of people liked this, then you should do something 90% the same because the algorithm will favor it.”

“Because this artists got successful doing this, you should do the same.”

“Because this kind of sound is the fashion now, you should follow the trend to make your music have more reach.”

“You should be CONSISTENT because that is what the algorithm perfers!”

It’s all kind of bullsh*t if you ask me. We don’t make art for the f*cking algorithm, we make it for people.

Success versus you vision

Again, don’t get me wrong. Taking inspiration from things that work on social media is good. I am doing that myself. However, artistic vision comes first in my humble opinion. Whilst I take inspiration from things that are successful, there are a lot changes I wouldn’t make to my art because they would not fit my vibe. Sure, this kind of thing will make my music have less reach. But then again, not being genuine would ruin the hobby for me, and my following wouldn’t like it anyway. So what’s the point?

Think about it. Acts that defy ‘normality’ and are just ‘themselves’ usually get rewarded anyway exactly BECAUSE they stand out. So really, there’s no need to stick to these ‘templates’ every one is telling us to follow. Maybe, just MAYBE, all these success strategies should be taken with a pretty big grain of salt.

I say, being ‘successful’ is overrated anyway. Having X followers, X views, X likes is definitely overrated. Actually, I reckon most things are overrated…

Everything is Awesome!

As L.A. Salami so elegantly put it in ‘The City Nowadays’ :

“Films used to be… Great. Now they’re easy to make, easy to sell, easy to get bored of – everything’s 4 stars or more – Everything’s the best film of the year – Fast food films – Fast food music – Fast food politics – Fast food ideologies – What’s the worth of working to live at the cost of your soul? So much so that you don’t want to live at all?”

Genuinely, it happens so often to me that I find a piece of art not as great as what the 98%+ score on whatever review website suggests. On the other hand, I find some terribly rated things great sometimes. I know so many artists that are genuinely amazing, but have the tiniest ammount of recognition. Meanwhile, seemingly ‘banal’ acts attract the likes of millions of people.

Of course, there are also plenty of great artists that get a lot of attention too, and small acts that , rightfully, are small because they are developping their sound etc… As a result, numbers seem to become more & more meaningless. Especially for people who aren’t that fussed about making a living out of their passion. So I don’t define my successs according to any of that. Doesn’t mean I don’t have a vision of success and goals for my hobby though.

I want to be PROUD of my work when I post it

That is my #1 criteria for success. If I am not happy with it myself, then I’ll never be happy with any of the outcomes or results that follow.

I want my friends, family and other fans to enjoy it

If whatever I do gets nearly no attention, but MOST of the people who enjoy my art actually like it, and tell me so, then I’m very happy. My music brings me joy. If I then bring joy to the people who liked my music in the first place and supported me in the past, then I’m even happier.

I want to progress

I don’t care about the numbers, I care about constant improvement. So whilst the actual reach of my music in terms of numbers matters little to me, what DOES matter is that I get a bit better every time. Ultimately, it’s about going FORWARD. This goes for a few aspects of my music: engagement, sound quality, video quality etc…

There you have it

Not so difficult to define success huh? Now I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t do anything. Don’t follow this example. Do your own thing.

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