Let me put this in bold letters because you need to hear this.
You are not a failure, the reason you haven’t become famous is not because you’re not doing enough.
Before we start, I want you to find a mirror (or use your phone selfie feature) and ask yourself this question.
“I will never be famous. I will never breakthrough. Do I still want to be a musician?”
Some call it fate, some call it karma, some call it destiny. The truth is whatever determines this thing (what I would call luck), you don’t have it. This is a love letter to the 99% who are not lucky.
I put myself in this category, and maybe it’s because of movies or pop culture, in general. But I thought I was Neo in The Matrix. That’s what film is set up to be! But if we think about it, then realistically, everybody can’t be Cinderella. Sometimes, and more often than not, you are not even the stepsister! You’re just the neighbor, or living in the next village!
This cannot be our focus. The truth is you’re never going to achieve the kind of fame that you put in your own head (that last part is critical).
Does that make sense?
Even if you were the next Michael Jackson, your expectations would let you down. Why? Because you have the world’s most powerful computer between your ears. It’s so powerful and inventive that we still don’t understand everything going on in that noggin of yours! The power to imagine is… well, it’s unparalleled.
Now there are two critical things that I will point out here. I will be careful with my words (that’s not a regular occurrence, haha!)
I want to point out fame and expectation.
Both of these can be such a great hindrance to creating great art. I think- actually- I know that you can create GREAT art outside of any realm of fame and fortune.
“I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a Grammy, never have a hit song, and that he hoped I’d fail. I said to him, ‘Someday, when we’re not together, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the f****** deli without hearing or seeing me.”-Lady Gaga
Is that a cool quote from Gaga? Hell yes. But that also doesn’t really equate to jack shit of what really happened and the amount of luck that went into being who she is. This quote is made to make you feel like you can be like she is! Lady Gaga did it! SO CAN I! She just put a whole lot of time into this! But when has an amount of time guaranteed anything except death? I mean honestly? You can’t guarantee you’ll be lucky. You can be great at something, sure! But you can’t be lucky like her. Famous people say things like that previous quote all the time. I use to read things like that and feel like I could conquer the world. But that’s what the quote is designed to make you feel. It’s reality TV, guys. It’s wrestling. It’s scripted. We all want to write that song and tell those people that they were wrong about us.*
*Side note – it’s surprising how often “those people” were really just in our heads. The real answer is a little sadder than someone taking the time to actually tell us we were dumb. Most people can’t see past themselves. Most people are so focused on their own shit that they don’t see us at all. You and I, we’re invisible. Maybe you did have a dick boss, or a nasty partner. Move past them. They’re not worth the revenge song. I promise by the time they hear the song you wrote about them. They won’t even know who you are. Even if they did, you wouldn’t feel peace or fulfillment from it. You’re still doing it FOR THEM! Don’t you see how unhealthy that is?
Hahaha, I promise this will have some good advice at the end! But before I do, I must point out a few more obvious things.
I regrettably will point you to the life of a painter, which is a cheap blog trick. Most great painters were “failures” until after they passed away. I mean, it’s low-hanging fruit. People have come to expect some sort of originality in this blog, and then I go and pull a stunt like this. Just lazy writing.
We expect the world to accept us, but we need to face the facts – 99% of bands don’t breakthrough the scene in any form. You have a 1% success rate in your field. That is a shockingly low success rate. You might not get picked up. Actually, if I’m honest with you – you will not get picked up.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and create something that you love. Society is always talking about getting lucky and being talented. Even talented people don’t get lucky!
Let’s take a quick look at the board.
Most of you reading this probably live in the United States, have some form of education and get to eat three meals a day.
Let’s change it. Let’s say to the people that have the Internet right now. (I guess that’s most the world? Anyways…) you are already lucky!
Do you have a roof over your head? You are lucky!
You have talent in a field! You are lucky!
So as far as luck goes. You have it already! You’ve won the lottery! Maybe you’re nice looking (wouldn’t that be nice) don’t even get me started on how lucky you are! Do you know how many ugly people there are in the world? Let’s just say there is a shit ton of ugly out there.
The world has changed so much since the ’60s. The methods used to progress in the ’60s are vastly different than how we progress today. It always bothers me when people compare things to how it was in the ’60s. They didn’t have social media in the ’60s. They didn’t stream music in the ’60s! People were looking for bands to play in the ’60s! Things are different now. The way the Stones or the Beatles progressed and got bigger would not work for you today.
I do want to point out that there are way more opportunities to be successful in some form of the word. It is easier than ever before!
Isn’t that pretty cool? Once again, lucky.
I have a firm belief that if Taylor Swift had to roll the dice again starting from scratch, taking away a lot of her parent’s money, that’s not me hating that’s just me stating a fact. She might not make it this time. That’s not from a lack of talent! I actually think Taylor Swift is extremely talented, maybe not as a singer… you know what I’m not going off on where she wins and loses. I just think she’s talented. I think she’s a phenomenal songwriter and very likable. Although not my cup of tea… I’m still talking about it, aren’t I?
What I’m saying is that success is not worth your mental health. The “success” you’ve set, the goal you have in mind. Those odds do not reflect you and your worth! If just being talented got you the gig, you would win! You’d have what you wanted. But that’s not how it works.
Again, ask yourself this question.
“I will never be famous. I will never breakthrough. Do I still want to be a musician?”
Be honest with yourself.
You can’t control the luck factor. That 1 in a million shot has absolutely NOTHING to do with you. The only thing you can control is whether you want to be good at what you do. If you are skilled, you will find success, it’s just smaller than you think it should be. But chasing these numbers, that’s never going to make you happy. Even if you had one billion streams like John Mayer did this year, it will never fulfill you.
I promise you this. I don’t care how good you are, you are not going to be famous. I would bet my mother’s life you will never breakthrough like Taylor Swift did. That’s not a reflection of you, that’s just simple statistics. You have a better chance of being murdered than making it.
From Discover The Odds
The chance of being murdered is 1 in 18,989
From the New York Post (an almost reputable source)
Your chances of becoming as famous as Lindsay Lohan?
1 in 1,574,638
You have a better chance of getting murdered than banking on becoming famous at something you’re obviously good at. Just let that sink in for a moment.
Now, you will roll your eyes. You will think, “Yes, but I’m special.” I’m a millennial, I know all about thinking I’m the shit. I had a bizarre childhood (a great childhood, but very different). Maybe your parent is a lawyer, or your old neighbor was Tim Clarkson (Kelly’s cousin). We all have quirky facts! You had a rough go? I’m sorry. I really am, but most of us have. You are not special. If special means everyone is special, doesn’t that mean the word is kind of… boring? Have you watched Star Wars, seen Luke Skywalker or Rey staring off into the sunset and thought, “I’ve done that. That’s like me if I only had a chance to show what I’m worth. They’d love me!”
DUDE! EVERYONE HAS FELT THAT WAY!
Are you talented? YES!
Are you beautiful? YES! Even if it’s just to me. I mean, if you are to one person, you must be in general!
Are you deserving? YES!
But will you be given what you want, even with a lifetime of hard work? NO.
Does this mean you should quit? If you’re doing it just for that one-in-a-million chance. Then yes, you should.
But if you’re acting, if you’re writing songs or performing because you love to do that, then please don’t quit! Just be active in changing your absurd expectations.
I have heard GREAT music here in Arizona! Some local artists have written some of my favorite songs! Will they ever be discovered? No. This is not the end of the world. They still made something worthwhile, and that has value, and so can you.
Maybe not as lucky as Whitney Houston. She won the lottery with that voice. It was never meant to be. You are not Whitney Houston, and no matter how hard you work, you will not be as lucky as she was. But you can be lucky in your own way, and you can find success in your own way, and that is an incredible thing. You consistently and constantly compare yourself to things that have been fixed and/or are the exception. You are not the exception. I am not an exception. Your love of the game will not pull you through at the end when the buzzer goes off. That’s just how life works.
As soon as you realize that, enjoy that weight off your shoulders! Then create something incredible because you don’t have to! God, that sounds so nice! You can create a masterpiece because you don’t have to create anything. Make life whatever you want it to be!
You are part of the 99%
And that’s okay. Hell, it’s great to be here!
Do you love to sing? Maybe you love to write? There is nothing wrong with you! There is nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of opportunities to do that and get paid! Hell, I do it all the time! You can find work outside of music as well. I have and I love the balance in my life! Is it busy? Yes! Have I made sacrifices? Yes. But I also enjoy my life and I get to do that on my terms (something fame would prevent, you never think about that part of fame, huh?) Can you still dream of playing stadiums? YES! There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is basing that you’re a failure if you get anything less than that. You can create great art and still work a 9 – 5 job! People do it all the time. It’s not a hobby! Don’t downplay it like that, don’t roll over your talent. Maybe the 9 – 5 is a second job! Huh? Did you think of it that way? If you consistently knock it out of the park with songwriting, if you’re always putting on a badass show, people will notice. I promise that they will, and they will learn your name and love your work. Isn’t that good enough? I have played sold-out venues and nearly/completely empty rooms. You know what the difference really is? A few decibels. At the end of the day, you still go home. Did you enjoy yourself up there? That’s the real question. These numbers, what do they really mean? Nothing. Seriously. They mean nothing.
This life is painfully short. Some of us get lucky. Most of us don’t. You have not an iota of control over that. Be thankful for what you have, keep playing to the best of your abilities and do what you love! When people say things like “If you can dream it, you can make it happen.” They don’t mean that you can force luck. They mean whatever that inventive, charming mind can come up with, you can find a way to make it happen! Use that noggin, create something great. If 10 people hear it, you’re a success in my book.
If you’re feeling stressed or having a hard time wrapping your head around this concept. Let’s talk! I love to talk, obviously!
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