If you look at music purely from a technical standpoint, failure is defined as playing something correctly or incorrectly. However, music creation and performance cannot be pigeonholed into an objective measure of success, unlike practicing a major scale. For example, playing a song perfectly from a technical perspective may not move the audience if it lacks authenticity and passion. Choosing a safe and predictable approach can stifle creativity and prevent you from trusting intuition and curiosity. Fear of failure can hinder you from taking risks – and in turn suffocate your best creative ideas and dampen your performance.
Why failure is okay in music
In both music and life, failure is inevitable, regardless of talent, effort, or identity. To be a successful musician, you must learn to expect and deal with failure as it comes. Failures, whether minor or major (no pun intended), can happen during performances or in the creative writing process. Constantly fearing failure can lead to avoidance and damage your musical ambitions in the long-run. The most successful songwriters and performers are those who accept their mistakes and shortcomings, and strive to improve continuously.
Learning from your failures as a musician
Say you worked hard on your last record but it went unnoticed. This may prompt you to question if poor promotion or weak songs were the cause. Do lackluster performances always stem from the venue or audience, or could issues with your band be a factor? It’s never easy to accept accountability for failure, but it sure is necessary for growth. Learning from past mistakes can inspire a fresh approach to songwriting and help prioritize passion over perfection. Learning from failure helps you to eventually become the best version of yourself as a performer or creator.
Like so many other important things to embrace as a musician, accepting and learning from failure isn’t something you do once, but over and over again. There’s always something to learn and something to do better in music no matter how successful and talented you are. In fact, knowing this shouldn’t disappoint you, but instead give you real hope. We’re never finished as musicians, and there is beauty in this lifelong journey!
April 5, 2023
The Fear of Failure: The Ultimate Saboteur