The Need to Be Selfish

29 November, 2020

The worst thing that you can do as a musician is listen to your fans, listen to what they want. Don’t ever listen because everyone has an opinion. The most important thing is to create music in a vacuum. There’s a great irony, a great paradox about being an artist: to be an artist, I think you have to be incredibly selfish but, at the same time, you need people to buy what you do.

You cannot pay attention to what your fans want. To evolve as a musician, to be true to yourself you need to be incredibly selfish.

Steven Wilson

What Steven Wilson said doesn’t merely apply to music. It applies to ever creative endeavour. If you respond to the whims of your audience, you’ll lose them eventually. And there’s a chance you won’t gain a new one. Your current audience might become very fickle and turn away when they get bored of you giving them what they want.

David Bowie was successful mainly because he always stayed a few steps ahead of his audience. Bowie shaped the audience’s wants, not the other way around.

For most of us, though, that approach can be hit or miss. We might gain a wider audience. We might lose our current one. Or we could be playing to an empty house.

Being selfish, and taking the risks involved with being selfish, is worth it. You stay true to yourself as a creator.

Scott Nesbitt