Photo by Tallie Robinson on Unsplash

Since the dawn of civilization, music has become an underlying part or every individual’s culture, region, religion, etc., thus playing a fundamental role in the development of our social skills as a whole. Throughout history, it has facilitated accomplishing great tasks together, bonding us together in shared experiences, myths, and philosophies. We could say music is the soundtrack of humankind, and it has been present in every age, era, period, and century. It has fueled emotions, art, revolutions, war and peace. It has been present since we first heard it in the womb, and will probably accompany us throughout our life.

However, arguably the most impressive effect music has on us is altering our mood and feelings. Music affects our brain’s biochemistry through dopamine. Furthermore, music education participates in the development of language skills, self-esteem, listening skills, creativity, math skills, stress relief, etc., thus benefiting students’ overall academic success, too. With music you learn discipline, resilience, and concentration. In spite of all these benefits, the most important thing is not their academic performance but the fact that all those experiences help them become more emotionally intelligent.

So plentiful are the benefits that music and music education bring to our lives that the importance of cherishing every expression of music and art in our communities has become abundantly clear. With this, the importance of celebrating that sense of belonging and coming together that we, humans, have displayed since our origins. In this context, I think musicians play a very important role in bringing us all together in shared vibrant live music experiences, while reshaping our collective future through enhancing and promoting human interaction and proximity.

Back in 2002, after Napster decimated the music industry that brought to epic stardom many artists and celebrities in the eighties and nineties, David Bowie predicted that music itself would become like running water or electricity. Nowadays, streaming services have shifted album sales to freemium and subscription-based models that have devalued music and flooded the market with user-uploaded music content. Through equity ownership deals with music streaming corporations, most record labels have become modern-day slave ships, forcing mainstream artists into indentured servitude schemes while independent acts starve for years, hoping that one day they’ll earn enough to follow a full-time career.

These, and future changes, have and will undoubtedly be fueled by technology. Ranging from affordable music production gear set up in your bedroom, to free social media marketing tools, or online music distribution services, technology has given artists wings to fly, but sadly, now it seems there is not room enough for such a massive flock, or for their unleashed creativity and unrealistic expectations. On the other hand, nowadays people have more entertainment options than ever… music being just one more on the list. As a musician, you are not only competing against other musicians, but also against all the other things your audience could be doing with their free time and money. To make matters worse, there is evidence of parallelism between consumers’ expectation for fresh music —any time and anywhere, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), which pathologically manifests itself in a very short-term attention span that needs to be rewarded frequently. Platforms like Spotify, Facebook, and YouTube just exacerbate this and other conditions. At the end of the day, these tools have become a risk to your fanbase’s and your own mental health, and have also proven to be inefficient in building a solid and sustainable career in music.

It is undeniable that this consumerist society we live in —and the monstrous music business that has emerged from it, is dragging us to a place where there’s a deep lack of human connection and where we need to be constantly overstimulated. As a matter of fact, the use of the Internet that most blame is nothing but a byproduct of our own narrow-minded consumerist way of living. Whether you like it or not, and whether you consciously agree with it or not, this is the cruel economic model we have helped to build with our decisions and actions —or the lack thereof. Fortunately, people around the world are waking up to these and many other dysfunctional business models in a desperate bid to secure their livelihoods, and their level of happiness and fulfillment… and with it, they are effectively redefining their own version of success.

In this quest for long-lasting happiness, people have started to honestly and dispassionately question their own obsessions, their unreasonable expectations, their never-ending glorification for a hustle culture, and their own sincere motivations for doing what they do. In the process, many are looking for answers in foreign ancient wisdom. For many, what started as a way to overcome their unfulfilled careers, has taken them through a much more ambitious path of self-realisation, self-actualization, and self-knowledge. This introspection has led most to:

Understand who (or rather, what) is behind their insatiable craving for mundane success;
Listen to their inner voice and clearly pin down what their heart really yearns for;
Revisit preconceived ideas that are the result of unchallenged habitual thinking;
Enlighten themselves with centuries-old traditions from faraway lands, and learn how to benefit from their wisdom;
Redefine and rediscover their own version of success, and take one step closer into the right direction towards true happiness and freedom from suffering.

“Success Redefined: Where the Music Business and Eastern Philosophies Meet” is just a modest compilation of ideas originated from diverse sources and authors, recent and old, to which I extend my sincere gratitude. This book is particularly aimed at the aspiring professional musician; however it can also be relevant to artists and non-artists alike for it addresses ubiquitous problems like depression and anxiety, and presents a collection of philosophies aimed at unleashing untapped human potential.

This book is free of charge and is an unsolicited and spontaneous gift to you. This work may be used to support charity causes, but it is not restricted to this purpose only. Please, feel free to share it, especially among people you think this work will particularly be beneficial to, and consider supporting any of the crowdfunding charity causes I personally support (listed under “Things That Matter” in this website). Thank you very much.

Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om Shanti.