12/30/2013 11:14 AM
I recently interviewed The National at a Grammy event in San Francisco; the evening focused on exploring the songwriting process, but eventually we got to talking about defining success as artists.
The National are indie-rock heroes, headlining major festivals and opening for the likes of Paul McCartney and the President. But the band has paid their dues over 15 long years, releasing six albums, building an intensely loyal fanbase, and quietly earning acclaim while watching peers like The Strokes and Interpol shoot to stardom.
When I asked singer Matt Berninger whether he viewed the band’s success as critical or commercial, the answer was obvious: critical. But when asked which was more important, he joked that maybe commercial success might have been the better option. Which matters more to you, praise or profits? Or do either matter? Your perspective likely depends on where you are in your career path.
We all aspire to make a living doing what we love, and in an ideal world, we would find fulfillment in making art for ourselves first, and that process would be the only thing that matters. And some of us are fortunate to be in that position.
Just remember that career accomplishments and creative accomplishments do not have to be at odds with each other. As we head into the new year, here’s to achieving our own personal ideal of success.