275 – Do You Need to be Famous to Make it in Music?

by | Sep 15, 2022 | Podcast

Is there some part of you that wants to be known, appreciated, and celebrated? Do you ever fear that your lack of fame could be affecting your opportunities in music?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, David reflects on whether you need to be famous to make it in music.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:16 – Is it worth becoming a public figure, celebrity, or social media influencer?
  • 01:14 – The artist mentality (“I don’t care about being famous, I want my music to be heard”)
  • 01:47 – Would being known fulfill you in a way nothing else can?
  • 05:26 – You can find the answer on the inside


Hey, it’s David Andrew Wiebe, and I am on my daily walk.

Today’s episode is about whether we should strive to become known as artists. Should we become public figures and celebrities or social media influencers?

There are some obvious advantages. Your fans or followers can act as your sales force. And if you’ve built an audience, the moment you come up with something new, new music, your art, a new film, a new book, anything you come out with, if you’ve got a following that cares and is engaged, you have a built-in fan base that will purchase what you have to offer.

Not everyone who follows you will care about what you say. Not everyone who follows you will buy what you have to sell. But there is an advantage.

Nowadays, even movie studios have recognized the advantage of a social media following. We live in an age when actors and actresses get hired because of their social media following, even if they are inferior in their skill as actors and actresses.

An Artist’s Mentality

For a long time, I’ve adopted a bit of an artist’s mentality on this myself. I’m not sure exactly where I picked it up.

But there are a lot of artists who basically seem to think “I don’t really want to be known. I don’t really care about being famous. I just want my music to be heard. So, I just want my music to be known. I want my creations to be known.”

Is this impossible? No, not at all. There are plenty of artists who are not household names, whose music or books or artistic works are known.

So, if that’s a path that you’d want to pursue, it is viable.

David’s Personal Journey & Why Being Known Matters to Him

That said, I don’t think this attitude has served me well. I’ve been on this green earth for a few decades now. And something that I’ve continually returned to upon reflection, time and time again, is the fact that I do want to be known, I do want to be a public figure, I do want to be a celebrity.

And maybe this could stem from some of the trauma, some of the challenges, some of the difficulties that I’ve personally gone through.

For those who don’t know, my dad passed away when I was 13. When people ask me, what’s the biggest challenge in my artistic career, music career, entrepreneurial career, it’s that. It’s the fact that my dad passed away when I was 13, that I had a huge macro impact on my life moving forward.

And I had a great sense of confidence about myself, that I’m not sure I’ve totally recaptured. Certainly, I’ve delved deep into personal development, I’ve gone to counseling, I’ve been to grief and loss groups, and I’ve seen a couple of psychologists.

But one thing that I just really haven’t been able to recapture for whatever reason is this sense of personal confidence that I had when I was much younger. I always seem to put people first.

In high school, I was darn well near a doormat. That was something of my own doing, though. It’s not as though someone forced that choice upon me. If someone asked me for money in high school, I just gave it to them. I didn’t care. So, pretty soon, people were just coming to me going, “Hey, will you buy me a slice of pizza? Hey, will you buy me lunch?”

And I was like, “I’ve got lots of money. Money doesn’t make you happy, I can tell you from experience.”

People didn’t know that I had a quarter of a million dollars sitting in my bank account.

But of course, I was wrong. It probably wasn’t a good idea to hand out money left, right, and center. Because I’ve had my struggles, just as anybody else has. I’ve gone broke and in debt, at least two or three times at this point. It’s never been a pleasant experience.

A lot of people will go, “Well, how could you lose all that money?” Most of it went into a car and a home. But there was also an economic downturn in 2008. That had a huge impact on my personal investments.

But this isn’t a conversation about income, specifically, income is obviously going to play into how well known you are. But it’s a conversation about self. What is right for you. And I’ve just always had a nagging sense that I’m meant to be out there in some capacity.

I’ve invested so heavily into myself, that I’m hungry for opportunities to share my knowledge and experience with others, and to continue refine my communication skills and presentation skills, so that my message lands.

I kind of avoided and ignored social media for a long time thinking that was probably the right decision for me. After all, I wasn’t one of these crazy people that needed validation for every little thing I did.

But I’ve come this far in life to discover that maybe that wanting to be known is more of a calling than a need for validation. For me, becoming known and recognized and acknowledged for the work I do and being celebrated is a great piece of the fulfillment pie.

It was no one else that put it off. I was the one that put it off, but it’s not something I’m willing to put off any longer. And I know I’ve got a long road ahead of me. It’s not like I’m starting from zero. I’ve got a following. I’ve got a very decent following when I add together all the numbers from the various social networks that I’ve built the presence on.

But to get to a point where I’m known, where I’m in demand, when people continually come to me and ask for me, for my advice, for an interview, for the things that I really want to do in life, that would really fulfill me and allow me to shine at the brightest, is going to require some hard work. It’s not going to come by accident.

Should You Pursue Fame?

Now, at the end of the day, I can’t tell you whether you should become known. You probably know the answer on the inside as well. It’s possible you’ve denied that part of yourself to this point, just like me, and then you’ve come to this point much later in life, maybe a decade or two or even three decades later, recognizing that oops, maybe I should have put a little bit more energy into becoming known.

Even though I would love for just my music or my art to be known, that’s not really happening. So, to me becoming known is a crucial element to all this after all.

Prince was a well-known eccentric and recluse. He didn’t do many interviews. No one really seemed to hate him for it, though he created excellent music.

But this is something for you to ponder. This is something for you to ask yourself, Is fame worthwhile? Would it be a part of your fulfillment? Would you feel differently about yourself? If you were celebrated, if you were an influencer or a public figure, how would that impact your career? And what could you do today to start moving in that direction?