Host: Andy Lee (@andyleedma), pianist and church musician.

Leading up to this week’s conversation, Andy posted the following question on

How much does capitalism influence how we define success?

Andy also tweeted the following introduction to the discussion he hosted:

Since we have a few minutes before getting started, I’ll share a quick story. (Baby was cooperative with bedtime!) There are many reasons I’m interested in this topic, but most recently, I had something crop up with an album release. The composer had generously gifted me a bottle of libations, to be enjoyed as part of the album being released. I didn’t partake, though, because the situation didn’t feel “special” for whatever reason.

I wasn’t sure what I was waiting for. Solid sales numbers? Good reviews? Perchance an end-of-year list mention? In short, I found it difficult to simply enjoy completing an album. I felt like some sort of outside validation was needed. Anywho, that’s been on my mind lately.

Andy also commented on the discussion in between asking his questions; these observations are included in the discussion archive at the end of each round of answers.

Here are Andy’s questions:

  1. Without overthinking it, imagine yourself as successful. What springs to mind?
  2. If $ was part of how you defined success, how does the inclusion of capitalism make you feel about that? If you didn’t mention money (or if you did), how do you feel about $$ being so tied to artistic success?
  3. You come across two new composers. Without knowing anything of their music, you learn that composer A works at Costco while composer B makes a living from commissions. How do you feel about each composer’s music?

  4. If you could (and don’t now), would you want to make a living solely from performing/composing? Why or why not? If you do make a living solely (or almost entirely) from performing/composing, what have been drawbacks?
  5. Do you have a “day” job? Do you want one? How does that help/hinder an artistic career?
  6. What’s a situation where monetary success made you feel artistically successful?
  7. Tell us about when you felt successful. 🙂 We want to know why you rock.

You can read the full discussion archive on Storify.

Photo: From John Cage, ‘Silence: Lectures and Writings’