Stop worrying about success or failure. I tell myself. But its difficult not to once you’ve released a project you’ve poured a great deal of your lower middle class income into specifically to give your project a good chance of reaching a larger audience. Much of it going towards aspects of your project that have little to nothing to do with the actual creation itself. But on polish, packaging, and promotion so that people might actually care about your project a little bit more than they care about the projects thousands of other artists are pleading them to check out.
It feels shameless and shallow to have to resort to gimmicks and make your actual art take the backseat to instagram pics, and clout co-signs. But such is the game.
Or is it?
What if you just didn’t care. Just made art, and put it out however and didn’t worry about the results? Well I know quite a few artists that do exactly this. But with a few exceptions the vast majority are able to do so out of privilege, they have careers in other fields that can support making high quality art or they simply do not make high quality art or they end up still unsatisfied with their work not getting attention and stop creating art altogether out of bitterness OR they attempt to forego the industry and marketing side of art only to be lured or forced back in by industry interest in their quiet yet very public work.
I’ve found that if you’re a really good artist its almost impossible to release work you’re passionate about and not have to deal with industry. Somebody’s going to want you to perform, feature, etc. your passion and talent will attract the industry. Along with it comes pressure to ‘do things the right way’, ‘not waste your talent’, ‘be professional’, and my favorite ‘level up’.
But I don’t think its healthy or productive for artists to cede to that pressure. It will more often than not keep artists from releasing music as they feel its not ‘professional’ enough. They feel they need a certain level of mixing, mastering, promotion, etc or they will be wasting all the effort they put into their music. But the reality is that itss much better to put out low quality art than to put out nothing. If an artist can’t afford to make an industry campaign they shouldn’t feel they need to quit. The percentage of artists that will go on to be ‘successful’ in the industry is so small it makes no sense for that to be what music culture is centered around, especially as far as local scenes go. There are so many other ways to make money from being an artist that aren’t being encouraged or centered, theres so much more to being a great artist than billboard charts or awards shows, but in far too many circles its all about the industry lottery.
I don’t think ‘industry’ is bad or pursuing a label signing, etc is bad, or caring about image or followers, etc is necessarily bad but for far too many artists it becomes a negative, toxic experience that makes them lose focus on why they began creating in the first place.
Put out your art, join an art community, genuinely enjoy and support other art without doing so just because some marketing guy told you thats how to build engagement. Don’t be too hard on yourself, if you can’t put your art out with the same high end rollouts as major or signed indie artists, thats ok. Its about connecting with people and expressing yourself, thats what being an artist is about. If everybody around you isn’t pushing your art, thats ok, cherish the few that do connect with it, keep creating for them, keep creating for YOU, that’s what it means to be an artist.