Success As An Artist: How Do You Define Success?

Being an artist is tricky. With so much competition, you’re tempted to compare yourself to other people on a daily basis – thwarting your definition of what success as an artist is.

How many times have you said to yourself, “If a label head listens to my music, then I’ll be successful” or “If only I had X’s connections, then I’d be at that level!” Sure, ambition is necessary, especially in an industry as cut-throat as the music industry. However, sticking to an undefined vision of what success is does more harm than good. So, if you feel crushed by an elusive definition of success, it’s time to do some soul-searching. Here’s why.

Success is all about:

How you define success

You simply can’t succeed if you don’t know what your goals are and what your definition of success as an artist is. Success is subjective – some people may be happy with 100 monthly listeners on Spotify, while others won’t be happy until they have a million. Have you stopped long enough to think of what a successful career means to you? Do you have a mental checklist of the things you need to achieve before you see yourself as a successful artist? Such questions require a lot of soul-searching, but they will ultimately help you set your expectations.

Setting goals

Once you’ve defined what your version of success is, you need to start setting goals. Simply put, you need to sit down and create a list of the small steps you need to take to achieve these goals, which in turn lead to success. Create a short-term and long-term plan for yourself, and implement it. Those who idly wait for things to happen rarely achieve their goals.

Celebrating milestones

Many artists obsess about “what’s next” rather than enjoying the moment. Sure, this industry makes you feel that any amount of work is never enough. However, enjoying small moments and celebrating milestones is a good way to acknowledge your hard work and where you’re at.


Goals and priorities change over time. So, while you may have X things on your list of artistic bucket list at 20, you may want to re-evaluate and change things when you’re 30. Therefore, if you don’t reassess your goals and priorities, you may find yourself fighting a losing battle with a previous version of yourself.

Having a positive attitude

Let’s face it, nobody wants to work with someone with a bad attitude. Being kind to those you work with, your team and your fans is crucial. You never know who you might be chatting to at the merch stand after a sweaty gig. Therefore, a positive attitude and surrounding yourself with good people are important to your success – and happiness.


Janelle knows a thing or two about the music industry. Having been involved in the industry since the age of 13, she's now involved in a variety of music-related projects and is always keen to share industry tips 'n' tricks with fellow musicians.