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10 Reasons You Shouldn't Wish For Overnight Success

1. You won’t be mentally prepared to deal with all of the fame, fortune, and international attention. You will crash and burn. Remember what happened to Susan Boyle?


2. You won’t be well-rehearsed or experienced enough and your performance won’t be ready for overnight global attention. Remember what happened to Ashlee Simpson on Saturday Night Live?


3. Critics and fans will eat you alive for every little misstep you do, crushing your soul and spirit in the process. Whether it be a misconstrued comment to reporter, a silly tweet, a questionable photo, or even what you’re eating or wearing… you will have a target firmly painted on your forehead for all to take aim at.


4. You will have a very short career. Overnight successes do not create life-long fans. They create flash-in-the-pan, one-hit wonders.


5. You will spend most of your money while being consumed in the excitement and frenzy of your new-found celebrity… only to find yourself broke when your fame suddenly dries up overnight.


6. Substance abuse and addiction is virtually imminent. Your handlers will push you beyond the brink of what your body is able to physically endure in order to squeeze every last dollar out of your celebrity before it fades away. You will be forced to medicate in order to deal with and maintain your frantic schedule.


7. You won’t have the wisdom of past experiences to guide you through the confusing and often deceitful industry. You will be taken advantage of; personally, professionally and financially.


8. You won’t be able to repeat the same level of success ever again. Having your life hit its peak overnight and then fade away as quickly as it appeared is a soul-crushing event and a recipe for severe mental depression, stress and anguish.


9. True success is all about the continuous journey of improvement and the satisfaction you get from enduring the tough times and accomplishing your dreams and visions through persistence and hard work. If you skip the process and the journey itself, your enjoyment will be short-lived, regardless of your riches.


10. Your values and ideals will be compromised. You will lose control of the very thing you believe in the most… your art. You will have to sign lengthy and confusing contracts with labels and agents and managers and publishers and promoters and attorneys… all of whom will steer your life and career in a direction which benefits their own needs, not yours. 



Visit Brian online: 

Thorny Bleeder - Music Marketing, Branding & Motivation

The DIY Daily  - Newsletter and Podcast


Reader Comments (14)

What happened to Susan Boyle?

May 28 | Unregistered Commenterjames

I think your advice is legitimate. I understand it.

But try wanting to make music your career when you have a family... and you're living with your dad because that's the only way you can support your family and your career choice in which you absolutely will be successful. There is just no doubt about it. The only question is how much determination am I going to learn I have? How far will I be pushed? Because I'm not quitting. So if I am stretched to the limits and beyond, I'm just going to keep stretching. I'll rip apart before I let go.

On top of that, your dad who was once someone to look up to is now just some crazy childish pill popping lunatic who rambles on senselessly about nothing good all day, can't stand to hear the words, "Jesus Christ" without puking in his own mouth, and he sits on facebook all day playing poker or his rpg games or whatever it is that he does. Then everytime a child cries or there is some sort of dispute, he's gotta pop 5 more pills.

See I came here with the intention to actually help the man. I just thought people left him all alone to suffer. I had no idea.

And while I was here it dawned on me, "Hey wait... I have the opportunity here. I can actually do what I've been wanting to do for 10 years. I'M GONNA DO IT."

So I have been learning, growing, oh yes... GROWING...

But it's time now. It's DONE. IF I ever needed an example in front of my face to remind me that those couple of years I was completely retarded enough to do drugs was just that, completely retarded and very much the past, this man is IT.

My wife has been SO good about it. Granted we lose our patience sometimes, but really - who leaves the only town they've ever known to go to a different state 1200 miles away, live there to help their "sick" dad, has a baby in a birth house COMPLETELY NATURALLY with absolutely NO modern medical help, does it very well at that, and comes out with a smile on her face?

But she's not smiling much anymore. We have a 2 year old and a beautiful new baby, Dylan, and he is 3 months old.

But she's not smiling much anymore.

And she is the one who tells ME - you are good enough. You're stupid for not doing it.

Our friend Kyle introduced us over 4 years ago. She wasn't going to go with me at first. I wasn't trying to convince her. But he said to her, "Do you want to spend the rest of your life in comfort always knowing what it is going to happen next? Or do you want to take a risk and be with this TARZAN ROCK STAR?"

He said it, not me. And she took the risk.

At the time I was not serious about the whole thing because I have known the whooooole time that it's not like cake to get in. I have to learn business, and marketing, and I gotta make an image, and I gotta build a product. I don't like it anymore than the next guy, but I'm not a fool - I see what's up. AND I BUST MY TAIL DOING IT... without money.

If people knew what I had done so far with practically no cash at all, they would wonder why in the world they're getting nowhere WITH cash.

But... there is only so far you can go. And if I go into getting a job, there goes the music career. Because I have no one else to support me. I live in Lawrenceburg, TN - people do a whole lotta talking here. But action is a completely different story. It's a black hole - you'd have to travel faster than light just to get out. I'm surprised I was willing to come back to help my dad knowing this.

See, when I have a job, I do that job. I am not some lazy moron. I busy my tail till its raw. I do the work of 3 men and get paid for half.. EVERYWHERE. No job has been the exception to this rule yet. I'm so sick of it that it's retarded. And going to college and getting a piece of paper that says, "You're a master in education that is so mucked up that it's not even funny! Go pretend you know something, get to know some people so that you are able to socially make an impact and then reward yourself with a nice fat paycheck..." That's not going to work either. Doctors, lawyers, politicians, policemen, firemen, soldiers(I like to call them killers; not that some don't have good hearts, but let's face the reality, what is the military for). ALL OF IT is full of selling out... and not even to help anyone. You think doctors help people?! REALLY? Then does every condition have a 5 different prescriptions attached to it? Yeah, okay. Have it your way. Some of you might actually be in that profession and might actually help people, but, don't lie to yourself. If you're reading this, you're 1 out of 10,000,000 who actually try. On the bright side, considering there are 7 billion people, that means that there are about 700 other people with whom we can relate. Not bad!

IF I'm going to sell out in this world to become successful, at least let me sell out doing something I love and that people can sit in their bedrooms and laugh or cry with me while listening to my songs. If I'm going to sell out in this world to become successful, at least grant me the opportunity to tell my kids, "This world, yes, we have to be a part of it... that doesn't mean that we ARE it. But follow your dreams, yes FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS and do NOT LET GO." If I'm a failure, how can I say that? GOD FORBID I FAIL.

I am not working for you, America. I'm working for myself and my family. However, since all of you want it "your way", you'll get it "your way" no matter what. I just hope that my words and my music has an impact on maybe you but definitely your kids... because I make people think. I give people something to actually and truly ponder - while delivering it in a manner upon which everyone can agree.

So, again, while your advice is legitimate, I respectfully say to you Mr. Brian Thompson, that I am not your fool. I am not your lunatic. You aren't going to find this passion anywhere else. If you knew me, you'd know that you need to offer alternative advice for a few of us.

Because I don't care if it's a flash. I really don't. I was successful for a moment and that IS PART OF THE JOURNEY. My end goal in life is not to be a successful musician - it is to be a GOOD human being who raises GOOD kids and makes a GOOD impact on this world before I die or the world ends - whichever comes first. Music is how I choose to do it. And you know what? That FLASH would be just the spark I needed to garner the funds that I could use to truly do well for my family, start up a business that my wife has been wanting to start, to take care of a few of our debts, and to give to a few who need it that I know personally. That FLASH that you are looking down upon would get me the attention and the name I need to be known wherever I go that my effect is understood - I won't be some silly stranger who is saying and doing the things he is doing.

And another thing. EVERYONE has a past. Am I gonna cry if someone brings it up? NO. Does my wife know about mine and do I know about hers? You know how people always say "Oh, we know each other?" Well, I know for a fact she knows all my stuff. I told her specifically to make sure that the relationship on my side was going to be solid. The media couldn't possibly bring anything up that would ruin my relationship with God or my wife, because they already know. Anyone else doesn't matter because who else matters to me other than my kids?

People can judge and do whatever they want. Whatever suits them. It's not my business how they choose to occupy themselves.

I care about people. But I don't busy myself worrying about their foolish thoughts and actions. What a wasteful way to live... if someone literally spends their time wondering, "WHY?!" and "HOW?!" Then they weren't honest with themselves from the get go.

Hah... I still laugh everytime I read your piece of advice about the "journey" as if you think that musical success is the DESTINATION. You know what, Mr. Brian Thompson, the more I think about it, the more I think that your advice is actually an utter failure. IF people think career success is the destination then they haven't a CLUE. IS that what people really think? I'm not surprised. All the better for me. Let them earn their money however they wish to do it. Soon I'll be reaping the rewards as they buy my music and enjoy it, singing the words but not realizing I'm singing about THEM or to One whom they would hardly sneeze at, much less bow (but they'll say they do, every sunday, oh yes, they show up to church and make sure to throw money in those baskets so that they can buy their slice of heaven before the over-age or overdose, whichever comes first...)

Mr. Brian Thompson, your advice is only good to the extent that you pretty much take advantage of peoples' weaknesses instead of exposing them and showing them how to overcome them.

How about saying, "Look, this is what is going to happen to you IF you haven't yet learned THIS..."

Well, you got my fire started anyway. A good day for it, too. See, when I feel depressed and discouraged, I don't QUIT. I say, "What do I do different." "Where is the open door?" "What am I missing...?" Because the problem with a puzzle is not that the pieces are not there - it's that they must be put in the proper places for the truth to be revealed.

BUT ALAS! I have spent the last 25 - 30 minutes typing practically whimsically into a white box on the internet on a blog with a piece of advice that barely anyone is going to read or take seriously anyway... not because they know better, but because EVERYONE *THINKS* they're the next big thing... All because some production company made them sound crispy and warm. OOoh. I'm so thrilled with your originality. Good production is a must for a good hit, but you know what's more important you destined Rigels and Betelgeuses? GOOD SONGWRITING. And that means writing something that MATTERS FROM THE HEART using TRUE language to PAINT PICTURES that fill peoples' hearts with understanding and memory and usefulness of some kind! If you ain't Van Gogh with a pen, don't even waste ALL that money that I COULD HAVE USED FOR MYSELF on your stupid production!

And I am definitely calling out all you country and rap and "death metal" people. BAD writing all day long and it's poison in my bones.

I have so much to say to you and the world, Mr. Brian Thompson that I have gotten up 3 times for a break from typing.

If they ever allow this to be a response to your blog, I will laugh. I'm not sure I would allow it for its length.

You know, I could always stop, but you've set me on fire. I think I'll keep burning.

You aren't going to compromise my values because I'm wise enough to understand what values are. I'm capable of discerning where "compromise" must take place and how it doesn't actually affect my true values or morals. I have one in Heaven that is all merciful and forgiving and grants what He wills when He wills. I will know when something is wrong and I'll say DEAD NO and trust me, no same person will ask me the same question twice.

I want to attack your #7 piece of advice. How generalized and foolish that piece. You see, to most people, that's good. But for me, no, you're so dead wrong, once again, that it's shocking to me you didn't have the imagination to entertain the possibility that you could be wrong. It's almost like you just wrote this advice for FILLER. Were you bored and felt like making sure people realized their dreams are a failure? Oh........ wait, I get it. You're trying to force a whole lot of people to stop trying to be successful in music because the music industry is being flooded and you're trying to weed people out. Is that it? Need I say, "epic fail"?

I tell you for a fact, beyond the shadow of a doubt, Mr. Brian Thompson, that the wisdom that has been given to me and the experiences I have far outweigh that of my 50 year old father - and he is almost sober enough to admit it. Though, I generally refuse to be so arrogant, I'm feeling frisky right now. Trust me, I can tell from your advice, you still don't have enough experience yet. KEEP WRITING...

The only good piece of advice is #2 at all, which is ironic, because I think the rest of your article is #2. Forgive my candid observation.

People should play and play and play and play and play and play and play and play and play and play and play. Go to the bathroom. AND THEN PLAY.

And I do. And I can still do more. And I can still get it more perfect. YES YOU ARE RIGHT ABOUT THAT!

Good day Mr. Brian Thompson. I ended my response by conceding that you said something worth hearing.

I think this is more of a list of "justifications" on why you didnt make it! Like someone wrote it to make themselves feel better. It is absolutely UNTRUE and doesnt have to be that way! Ashlee Simpson wasnt an overnight success btw! she was on a tv show for years before becoming a singer and theres more anxiety in being a failure than being a success. And to "TARZAN" Who are you to judge doctors and lawyers and anyone else??? Please dont have any more kids til you get your shit together! You shouldnt be BREEDING! you sound crazy. Im sorry but you do. This post made me unsubscribe to your mailings. You should be giving constructive career advice not a list of your egos reasonings. Its bullshit

May 28 | Unregistered CommenterNadiacat

Writes a marketing dude who's never had overnight success.

Really Music Think Tank? Really?

May 28 | Unregistered CommenterRick

Thanks, This article actually made me feel a little better.

May 29 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

True reasons.

It appears as if I touched a sensitive nerve in a couple of you. It's good to see everyone is passionate about this!

It's important for me to reiterate one key word which perhaps has been overlooked: .

This article isn't about not wishing for success, that's ridiculous. It's about not wishing for immediate success... success before you're mentally, physically and creatively groomed to handle it.

Overnight successes don't have long careers. That's a fact (but of course, there are a few always exceptions). All you have to do is Google the words One Hit Wonder to find hundreds of examples...

The fact that an individual would take offense to any of these points just goes to show that a basic understanding and realistic perspective of the entertainment industry is completely lacking in said individual. To take this article as discouraging or as the writer's selfish justification for 'not making it' is ignorant, if not an ironic self-serving justification for one's own shortcomings. A person seeking to achieve and maintain real success in this business would take these ten points for what they are: observations by one who had the mind to actually contemplate such an issue and share it with others who might benefit from the insight.

May 29 | Unregistered CommenterS.Woods


and as a guy who probably has more knowledge of this industry than all of you combined, I say GOOD FOR YOU, TARZAN!!!!!

And to the rest of you... if you're offered that 'shot'... TAKE IT!!!!.... it may NEVER be offered again!!!

May 29 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

Great post, Brian.

I've been in the music business a long time and have seen this over and over and over again.

Since my business is mainly production #2 is probably my biggest peeve. It's easier now more than ever to make a great SOUNDING record, but if you can't pull it off live your days are numbered. It's takes years of performing to be at ease and entertaining on stage. To me there's nothing worse than sittin through a poorly prepared performance.

I've also seen #5 ruin careers and ambition. Big advances for recording and tour costs usually put a newly signed artist into debt. Being new and unprepared is a formula for disaster.

New artist need to keep in mind that you and your art are products to a major label. Labels need to make money, and lots of it, to stay in business. There's nothing wrong with getting a deal, but a good deal that will benefit both the label and artist is few and far between. You will be told everything you want to hear, see lots of shiny objects thrown at you and appear to be the next big thing. That is until you're not selling. A majority of Brian's post explains what will happen next.

Thanks, Brian. I'm going curate this article on my site,, if you don't mind? It's so concise that I think my readers will appreciate the advice.

May 29 | Unregistered CommenterDave Lopez

Read especially: personal life. SuBo's still worth several million pounds though.

Tarzan, I really wonder how many good songs you could have written instead of writing your autobiography into a comment on MTT.

May 30 | Unregistered CommenterKyle

I'm 64 now and have been anticipating this moment for a long time. I have some very elegant music that my Greatest Generation dad wrote and that I am sure will become an economic success in the days ahead. If and when the contracts are offered and the flash-in-the-pan money starts rolling in, I am wise enough to know what to do next. Take a big chunk of it and stash it into an IRA or something, and the rest of it use to party to the max, chicks and all.

I'm a r@b, jazz, hip-hop, and country songwriter with lyrics. I need a singer or music groups that are interested in new music. I keep up with everything goin' on in the world and write songs about love @ life. I'm a ASCAP member with 2 songs on cd and dvd.. Anyone interested in new songs, check me on twitter, you-tube, or facebook!!!!

Best article i have ever read. This is so soooo TRUE. THANK YOU Brian for shring this with us. Please write more of this. God bless you!

November 19 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Thompson

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