No Expectations?

Recently I’ve been thinking about my successes and failures in music. As a kid, I didn’t care about making a living or even a single dollar from music. I just played because I loved it. After a month of listening to a new album every day, I’ve begun to rediscover this joy.

Once I got into my late teens and had to start thinking about a career, I dreamt about playing on large stages and recording in expensive studios. This idea was the only version of success I could perceive from watching other bands because websites like YouTube did not exist yet.

Against that expectation, I have not succeeded. But today, success comes in many more forms. There are full time musicians who do not tour, making a living uploading videos or getting millions of streams on Spotify. Those are still exceptions, but there are many more artists creating and selling their work using this model.

In contemplating what “success” in music should look like for myself, the only standard I should apply is if I’m enjoying what I’m doing. Financial success will probably never be attainable, but it’s never really been my ultimate goal; just a means to the end of being able to do what I love.

Rereading the famous 1,000 True Fans article today, I’ve realized the takeaway hidden at the end is actually the whole point:

1,000 true fans is an alternative path to success other than stardom. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum bestseller hits, blockbusters, and celebrity status, you can aim for direct connection with a thousand true fans. On your way, no matter how many fans you actually succeed in gaining, you’ll be surrounded not by faddish infatuation, but by genuine and true appreciation. It’s a much saner destiny to hope for. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there.

Having no other expactions other than being able to play music and connect with people who enjoy it is the ultimate goal. Anything else is a bonus.