What does success look like?

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Ashleigh Hogan looks at the elements that define “Success” in an Advertising agency by relating it back to her own hopes and dreams.

From someone who is seemingly at the bottom of the food chain in the Ad Industry, I have given alot of thought of what I think success would look like. It has also been a question that was brought up in one of my marketing classes; “In the Ad Industry, what does success look like?”

We were given so many different options of answers to choose from; the money coming in the agency and its value, the prestigious awards that it has won, the amount of charity projects the agency was involved with, the case studies or is it the list of big clients. After two hours of arguing between 12 students in the class on which was better to have in an agency, we slowly figured out that we had no clue. First, we have never been in an Ad agency and second, there was no purpose to us arguing because, we were all right. HOW? Because success is measured differently to different agencies.

The same topic came up in my singing lesson last week, about how people in the community measure success in the music industry. Being a singer, going to my weekly class for the past 6 years, people loose faith in you because ‘you haven’t made it.’ People hear you sing and they think that you belong on X-factor or The Voice, because they believe that is the only way to be successful. That’s how you become successful. Being famous, selling albums, making it on the radio, having sell-out concerts, touring the world, going on Ellen, HECK win awards! But what they don’t understand is that people can be successful without the money, fame, and the trophies that do nothing but collect dust. The music industry is a prime example of how perceptions of success is a narrow minded Hallway, that the meaning of Music has faded due to the image of success.

My singing teacher told me about a famous modern australian singer, that she is very close with. A singer who was given the chance to live in the spotlight and swim in fortunes, but rejected it for the easy going, come and go lifestyle that many artists wouldn’t choose if they were given the chance for fame. Don’t get me wrong, he would be stopped on the streets for signatures, selfies and with every gig, it is ALWAYS an instant sell out. People know him but he doesn’t feature on NOVA like Adele does, I don’t think I have seen him on TODAY in 10 years and he hasn’t made headlines since 2012. But he sells out everytime. She told me that, he tried that lifestyle when he was younger, but that just wasn’t him. So… what does it mean to be successful to a person who rejects the perceptions of success in the music industry…? Could you say that his idea of success was just having the ability to create his music, as free as he can be, for a crowd to enjoy? Is that enough to be successful?

It’s hard to explain to people what us, ‘Amateur Singers’ love about going to our classes, knowing that it is a minor possibility of us ‘making it’ and why we still go. I’m still explaining it to my mum! We were told to right down our goals for 2016 and as a little kid who sings at the school, you would write down “next year, I want to be as famous as Katy Perry,” but as the years go on, you appreciate music because it changes the way you see it. When we were that young we thought music was activity and success meant being famous but as we grew, we saw it as a hobby and success meant being happy and true to the art.

I feel as if back then old blues and Jazz singers weren’t born into the expectations of becoming famous in order to be seen as if they ‘have made it.’ They were truly and passionately giving their heart and soul to the art of music, and thats what made them famous. Sam Cooke, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James; they were born into the age of depression and so music was their for them so that they could express how they felt. It was a different time because the industry was head hunting for these types of people, who were true to the art and now, artists are chasing down ‘the dream,’ selling themselves for ‘success.’

You have so many people with amazing talent and even though this post may seem bias, I think that the people who are making it in the big bad world are just as talented and amazing as those who chose the independent life. The only difference is, they have different ways of measuring their success…. and both ways work!

It’s hard to explain to people why I sing because they think i’m wasting my talent and money for something that they believe that I don’t want to pursue in the music industry (get famous). My film lecturer once told me, “if you love something and it makes you happy, you would spend a million dollars to keep it going because thats what you do for the things you love.” When it comes down to singing, I have never wanted to be famous in the way that I would lose the connection I have with my music and so I can relate to the Famous singer I spoke about in this post. I would never want to lose sight of why I create music or why I sing and if that means i’m not going to be a billionaire…well, tough luck.

Bringing it back to the Ad Industry, I see so many similarities between the Music Industry and the Ad world. Everyone has their own ideas of being successful and that is what makes culture in a company. A united goal and vision to drive you YOUR idea of success, will be totally different to the other Ad agency on the block.

So what does Success look like?

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