Music Blogs

But Is This Success?

  • By Jimeh
  • 15 September 2011


How can success be gauged in the music industry? Financially by making millions every year? Is it through coverage by having your name all over the internet, radio, television and press? Or is it popularity, selling out stadiums all over the world and having hordes of fans awaiting your every move?

I personally like to think musical success is something more than just material gain. I like to think that success is being able to send messages, emotions, thoughts and feelings in the form of a simple song to anyone, anywhere in the world. It is telling a story. This story can differ to anyone who hears it, and be interpreted in completely different ways. It can relate to special moments in people’s lives and make each person feel that the song was written for them. The lyrics can make people feel like they were written about their life specifically and has the power to change a person’s mood and feeling instantaneously.

Everyone has those songs that as soon as they hear them they instantly feel happy or feel sad because it reminds them of a certain event or person in their life.  A successful song for me can challenge any aspect of life and grabs a hold of you and makes you feel something special inside.

But how can a very first success be achieved? No one truly knows and I don’t think there is a simple answer but I do have a theory. Some artists create album after album, each year striving to become better, tour the world trying to spread their music to as many places and to as many people as they can. They work tirelessly, hoping to catch a lucky break no matter how long it takes. But it seems to me that in the end all they need is one good song. One unforgettable song, that fast track’s them too fame and fortune. There are countless bands and artists that did not become successful overnight. They had to work for years to gain a following, then to be noticed by someone with enough power to market them for the rest of the world to see. Many bands, more often than not keep struggling to be on top until they create that one song, which could change everything. That one perfect song that takes them from the unknown and turns them into global superstars!

Now I’m not saying that there has never been people who became successful as soon as they realised they wanted a life in music. Plenty of debut albums are all that a lot of artists have needed to cement them into the hall of fame. Also all those manufactured boy/girl bands or solo acts from certain TV programmes may gain success instantly in the mainstream charts, but that’s because they already have the big music contacts in the industry that can input them straight away into the lime light. Unfortunately their fame may be short lived, before they fade back into being nobodies or appearing on celeb big brother and the odd quiz show.

But where do the ones who gain success go from catching that spark? Any band or artist that has gained success off the back of a single or an album will be overshadowed by it until they either create something better or fade away into nothing. Its common culture to constantly compare an artist’s work to their (and their peers) previous releases. We never judge anything without using something else to judge it against. How much pressure are these bands/artists under to constantly out-do themselves. When they were creating the ‘success’ song’s did they even realise they were going to be like that or did it happen by chance. How can they recreate it if it was down to luck? Maybe this is why artists constantly re-invent themselves and change their sound and style with the release of every new album. They are trying so hard to create something from nothing that the end result could be something completely different from what they set out to do in the first place.

Plenty of artists manage to keep ahead of their success and create something new that receives positive responses every year but there are also those act’s that are constantly working in the wake of that one great album or song they made so many years ago.

Noel Gallagher is a good example of this, in a recent interview he said "Let's say my career had gone backwards. Let's say this new solo album had been my debut, and it was my last two records that sold 20 million copies instead of the first two records. Had this been the case, all the other albums leading up to those last two would be considered a fucking journey. They would be perceived as albums that represent the road to greatness."

Success has a different meaning to everyone. Whatever you want to get from success in the end it all comes down to your music being able to influence people and make a difference to their lives no matter how big or small.

This is all in my opinion remember but feel free to give me your opinion on what success is to you, and list some bands you think that have gained success of an album or single but have never been able to out do it, and also bands that have been able to outdo their last efforts or at least create something just as good!

I’ll start off, every Killer’s album has impressed me and I love them all as much as each other, their debut ‘Hot Fuss’ standouts as their best album but the albums that came after are all jam packed full of classic’s that have added to their success over the years. However I haven’t enjoyed any of The Arctic Monkey’s albums as much as their debut. I heard a story about a recent interview with Alex Turner in which he said something like; his surroundings have changed so much since before their debut album, that he doesn’t have the influences around him that enabled him to write those kinds of songs anymore. This makes a lot of sense after hearing Arctic Monkey’s latest album ‘Suck It And See’. I still enjoy their music but it’s definitely a million miles away from the genius and energy of the debut.