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What is music industry success?

In my previous blog, I tried to write candidly about failure…

Specifically with regards to The Great Deep and the numbers associated with sales and social media reach.

I don’t see failure as a bad thing, by the way. And in terms of what I learned from the launch, I’m not about to start dissecting a detailed strategy for success. As I said in the previous post, there’s plenty of that around.

Probably the most important thing I’ve learned, is that success comes with discipline. Hard- working discipline.

Now there are two important words or parts to that sentence. The first is “success”, and what your definition of success is. In the case of The Great Deep album launch, I had to ask myself the question: was success selling one album to a person who becomes a fan for life? (Actually, seven digital digests). Or was success to be measured in numbers and awards? You know, the stuff that marketing gurus use for future posts like “platinum selling” or “Grammy award winning” artist.

The second important part of the sentence is “discipline”, which is what I’d like to share some thoughts on. The noun definition of discipline is a “branch of knowledge, typically one studied in higher education”. The verb definition is “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour”.

I think it’s unfortunate that discipline often has a “punishment” association to it. For me, discipline has become less about punishment and more about trajectory. If I discipline myself, I’m not punishing myself per se. Life does that by default. For example, I planned an album launch to go viral and it didn’t… now I must punish myself over and above that? No.

As I discipline myself, I am encompassing both the noun and the verb in the process – both by acquiring knowledge and training myself in a consistent way. I keep working at creating and promoting the music and the values in the music and steadily work towards the goal of reaching more people.

Which brings me back to the definition of success.

I’m going to be completely honest and say that I’m not exactly sure what that is for me just yet. It’s hard not to compare yourself to other musicians, artists and creators and the numbers associated around their work. Some artists have an interview and influence millions of others. Others, like me, make stuff for their family and the odd visitor, thanks to an algorithm.

But at the risk of sounding philosophical, I honestly feel like I’m doing the right thing… and I’m on the right trajectory. I have the right kind of discipline in place.

One very important thing I was able to see is that the people who did buy an album and did share my music, were not only interested in the songs and loved them, but they were interested in me and what I’m all about. They know what I do when I’m not a musician behind a microphone. They see my struggles and my victories. They know my family. They know my community. They understand all of this stuff in the context of the songs and the stories behind them. That kind of person is so much more than a “fan”.

My one friend phoned me around 5.30pm on the day of my album launch. I had released The Great Deep that morning.

“Hey Rob!” I said.

“Yeah, Ryan mate,” he said in his broad UK accent. “Are you home?”

“Yes I am.”

“Come to your front gate,” he said. “I’ve got something for you.”

I walked outside and he handed me a bottle of Merlot. “Congratulations bud,” he said, smiling broadly. (He had driven half an hour to give that to me.) “Proud of you!” And with that, he got back in his car and hit the road home.

I sent him this pic later that evening.

From that point of view, I count myself loved. And incredibly successful.

If you’re a Spotify user and are making playlists and have any of my songs included, let me know where you put it and why.

I’m also interested with users feedback on artwork and display of the album on different devices – so if you have any thoughts, please let me know.


iTunes and Apple Music seem to more popular with overseas listeners, but again I’m interested in feedback on playlist inclusions, artwork, etc.

If you’re not a subscriber of any platforms, there’s always good old YouTube!

And if you’ve read this far, you’d probably want to subscribe to my channel here (I’m releasing new lyric videos soon!).

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