We see this a lot in todays music, the collective mindset of a competition to decide whose music is better than another’s. In a sense it’s always been this way but has it gone too far in a certain way in which music is not created from the soul but from the ego?

I myself can see the point in having favorite artists and discussing with other people why you favor certain artists more than others. I see no problem with this as long as it’s done in a sane manner.

But with so much emphasis now on record sales and youtube views and a whole gauntlet of other means of measuring “success” have artists and fans alike lost touch with the soul of music.

Is being considered a great musician more important than actually making great music?

These two things are not the same. One may have all the technical skill and marketability that is now required almost, yet they may only be concerned with record sales as apposed to the quality of the record.

I know music for the most part is subjective, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So it’s not that any particular genre of music is bad or anything, it’s that we are too caught up in the ‘success’ of the record and not the essence of the record.

It always boils down to where is the music coming from the majority of the time. I’m not saying don’t take into account your audience and what might make your music popular. I’m just saying that you want the majority of your sound to come more from the soul than the ego.

Some of us may be caught up in a vicious cycle that has artists catering to fans and fans catering to artists. A broad example can be an artists gets on with a major label and publishing company and with those kind of resources they plan on selling millions of records and making even more on the money side.

Well, an artist must produce material that will appeal to enough people to pull off those sales. Therefore, the artist is creating music that might not be from the soul but from an appeal to the masses way of creating. The fans in turn buy the music and the cycle is complete.

I know everyone knows this already but it gets back to my main point. Has competition replaced musical integrity, and does it trickle over even to parts of music that pride themselves on not being in the mainstream. The effect of this to me is a sad one.

Is it hard now for artists to really support other artists? Is it impossible for the fanbase of one act to support another when so much of it is seen as competition now?

My biggest question concerning this is: “What has all this done to music in general.”

If an artist has to dig deep within themselves to create meaningful music, but at the same time make music that can compete with the rest of the world, are we getting music that is conflicted?

As artists and fans of music have we become jaded?

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with making music that will reach the most amount of people. In fact I think it’s a great thing to want to influence as many as possible.

But are you doing it with your soul or ego?

I think artists should support other artists, and fans to do the same. If this was more of the attitude, I think we would see more heartfelt songs being made that might even surprise the artist themselves, if they feel they are not in competition to the level it’s gotten to.

One thing I’ve noticed in my 10 years of trying to ‘make it in music’ is that I’ve found I do not have a choice, so to speak, in whether or not I want to continue to making music in some form or another. Sure I can look at it as a career and decide whether or not this is profitable right now and decide to try something else for the sake of economic gain, but that doesn’t not mean I can or even should try to stop making music. The journey makes us ask some important questions though.

Why do we make music?

Is it really a job choice or career choice if you will?

What happens if we decide that it’s not working out as one of those two things?

Should we decide to just drop it and do something else?

Is that even possible?

Trying to be successful in music can become very frustrating and despairing at times, and make us feel like we are going crazy! But what I’ve found is that If I were to try and put it aside and not create anymore then that would drive me even more insane. This type of revelation has led me to the realization that I can’t solely make music for the sake of becoming a star or hit songwriter. I have to make music because it’s inside of me and needs to be expressed. This gift we have and have worked so hard at creating simply can’t be denied because it may not have any monetary gains from it right now. What we decide to do with the gift of music is up to us, what the world decides to do with it is not, so we can’t base our dedication and love for it on whether or not the world rewards us with what we think we deserve.

There are many people who would just LOVE to be able to express themselves musically. As artists, we are able to do that. That is enough for me to be happy and fulfilled in doing this and going on this journey. Sure we all would love to be able to earn a living just creating music and even make it famous in some capacity. But this does not mean that if those things don’t come along that one should then just quit music all together. I really don’t think one would be able to do that in the long term without suffering from it on some level. Sometimes we can feel bitter about it all because our situation is not favorable or as we would have wanted it or feel we deserve. That to me is natural, but don’t call it quits for that reason.

Find it within yourself to keep doing what you love for the sake of that love. It doesn’t have to be ideal right now for you to keep pursuing your dreams and creating music, it just needs to come out and be expressed, and that is the best any of us can do.

My name is JJ McGuigan and I am a songwriter located in Wichita KS. I am moving to Austin TX this summer. I have been writing songs for 10 years and was a finalist on a VH1 songwriting contest for their ‘Save the Music’ campaign.