When talking about success in an artistic field like filmmaking or music, I usually tell people that I believe that talent accounts for about 20% of success.
The other 80%? Doing the work.
I have a good buddy who is one of the most insanely talented artists I know. Good hell can the dude sing.
He’s a professional musician, in that he makes 100% of his income from playing music for people.
The question is – is he successful?
Well, in some ways, yes. Anyone who can make a living doing their art is doing something right. Really, it comes down to what this friend of mine’s goals are, and if he’s meeting them or not.
Here’s the thing. Buddy has only ever released one album, and it was a 5 song EP. Sure he’s put out other singles, but only one album so far. Want to know when it came out?
Seven years ago. Now, again, this is a good friend of mine and I love him to death. However, when you’re talking about defining an artist, it often centers on the work that they produce and the success of that work. I know plenty of lesser talents that put out WAY more music and therefore have a bigger fan base, a larger income, and more paths to success in the industry.
If you are a songwriter but you never write (I know, that’s different than releasing an album, but it’s the same principle), if you’re a painter who never paints or a photographer who never takes pictures, you’re not *really* an artist.
The world doesn’t owe you anything in return for having talent. No one is going to show up to your door and ask if they can pay you a million dollars a year because your talent is so incredible. The only way to open doors that lead to success is to show up. To do the work. To FINISH the work. And then put that work out into the world.