In 2002 I had to write a mission statement for my business, Buffalo ZEF Records. It was becoming an official company, and was basically there for me to release my music. Up to that point, my career had been playing coffeehouses, bars, pubs, and the occasional festival. My goals were aligned with the typical goals of many young musicians: get a record deal, get "discovered", and be able to make music forever.
So it was surprising to both my father and I that I wrote that I wanted the mission statement to be about using music to change the world. To make a better place.
And everyday since then, that mission has only grown and blossomed.
The music industry has vastly changed since 2002, and those dreams of"riches" and being "discovered" morphed into something different. They were no longer necessary to determine whether or not I was successful. Success is a measure I create my own definition to. What does it mean to me to be a successful musician?
1). Using the music to inspire and uplift others. To, in effect, create a better world. As a troubadour, I believe our purpose is to spread the message of Love and Unity. Music is our medium. Success involves using your gifts and talents to better change the world.
2). Being able to survive on making music. Money is not very important to me. I don't need many things in my life. I'd rather have experiences and friends and conversations. That said, making money enough to eat, have a roof and a vehicle is important. If music is our passion, than I feel we owe it to that gift, maybe even to God to pursue it fully. Perhaps we can't make a living, but success for me is also involving doing what you love.
Everyday I am excited to wake and work on bringing these goals to life. Trying to find ways to inspire. Praying for words and melodies that can uplift. Always searching for places to spread my message.
And realizing that success isn't even important, really. Living a life focused on helping, inspiring, and uplifting other is reward enough. Everything else is unexpected, or a bonus.
I would rather see someones life be brightened, someones suffering mitigated, someone smile than focus on "success."