Why some artists and writers are not commercially successful (opinion)

Well, the title is wrong actually. Not some but most of the artists don’t succeed. What I meant by some are the ones that are good at what they do.
Anyway, without wasting any time, let’s look at some of the possible reasons.

They create art for connoisseurs

Some musicians create music for musicians. Some writers write books for writers. Some painters paint for painters. Perhaps, many of them are not aiming to monetize their work. But if they are, they need to ask themselves one simple question. Is this is what the masses want? True, no work of art that is created for mass consumption can ever be poetic. But if critical acclaim is all one wants, one should stop cribbing about the “stupidity” and “shallowness” of the masses. That is why many directors make poetic independent movies just for art’s sake. They don’t even release them in the theatres. Instead, such movies are screened only at film festivals. The goal of the moviemakers is clear. They prefer the praise of the “intellectuals” over moolah. They prefer awards over dollars. Point is, artists must be clear about their goals and their audience. They must ask themselves who will consume and appreciate their work.
There is a famous quote by Schopenhauer which both the readers and celebrity authors hate.

“The person who writes for fools is always sure of a large audience.” 

While that not be entirely true, but there is some truth to it. An average person is not looking for depth. He is looking for entertainment. So if you want your art to both poetic and commercially successful, make sure that it has the potential to entertain a common man.


Some artists have simply not updated themselves to the needs and wants of the current generation. They create art that is archaic. Okay for a person who lived 50 years ago, but not for the modern-day man. Let’s take the example of books. Very few people want to read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, or Hesse today. They want action straight from the start. They want fast-paced novels. Gone are the days when people were looking for “Gyaan”. The present generation is highly opinionated and seeks entertainment after a hectic day at work. What worked 50 or 100 years ago will not work today. The artists who seek to monetize their work of art need to understand it. If you seek commercial success, you have to adapt according to the present times. Otherwise, only a select few would know about or appreciate your wonderful creation.


Marketing is something that can’t be overlooked or ignored. Yes, ultimately it’s all about word of mouth publicity. But if no one comes to know about your creation even, no one hears about it, how would the sales gain momentum then? Most of the writers and artists are too fatigued to actively pursue and implement time tested marketing strategies. And most of them are not even acquainted with the power of digital marketing. There is a reason why authors are called authorpreneurs today. Today the author’s job doesn’t end with writing his book. He has to actively promote his work using all the means and tools he has at his disposal. But as I said, most of us are too fatigued after we create our pieces of art. Most of us don’t have even a scintilla of energy left needed for brand building.

Marketing one’s work requires a lot of money

Let’s be honest. There is no such thing as free lunch. If you are going to promote your art, it is going to involve a lot of dough. Most of us don’t have that kind of money to spare. Most of us have obligations. Most of us have families to feed and to be taken care of.  That is why most artists leave things to fate and move on. Take, for example, writing. Most of the writers have day jobs. The one that boils their pots. Do you think such writers can afford to spend thousands of dollars just to promote their books? The answer is no. Writing is no longer profitable. It is no longer a vocation. People slog at their offices during the daytime or find other avenues to make money, and write when they are back home at night or during the weekends. Point is, only a few people think they can make money from their works of art. Only a few have ample funds at their disposal. As a result, marketing takes the backseat. The artists release their works of art and move on. For them, there is no point in promoting their works. Whatever they do, they do just for the sake of it. Whatever they do, they do just for their satisfaction. A stable job is what all one is focused on.

In the end, it’s pure luck

One never knows what will click with the audience. One never knows what will go viral. Did anyone think or foresee there would be a generation nuts crazy after bell bottoms?

At my MBA college, in one of the courses, I was taught about a famous many-world simulation. A team of researchers created many worlds simulation and introduced in each a list of songs. The results were shocking. One song that was on top of the charts in one of the worlds barely made a mark in the other. Conclusion? It is impossible to predict who this society would put on the pedestal next. If there are parallel worlds perhaps in many of them nobody has heard of Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling. If there are parallel worlds in many of them Elvis Presley failed to make his presence felt. Do you get it? Even if the work of art or an artist is good, there is no guarantee of commercial success and fame. It all depends on whether all the dominos struck each other without fail. Things work only if everything falls into its right place at the right time.

Well, that’s it for now. Do tell me what do you feel about my opinions. Do tell me what could be the other reasons. Your feedback and comments would help me update this article.

6 Thoughts

  1. May be easy accessible platform like YouTube, social media have tons of contents and could be attributed to one of the cause. Artists have a growing challenge specially on marketing area and have to come up with something different to get attention. unfortunately today a genuine classical dancer is not getting enough notice but a B grade folk dancer who could do with a mix of 1-2 MJ steps would.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed… No one can predict.. People start discussing steps you took, what strategies you put into practice only after you become a celebrity. Commercial success? There is no way to emulate it!


  2. Passion and profession are different…so if art & creativity is a passion then keep doing the same without expecting anything…else be a public pleaser and keep earning monetary benefits…it entirely depends on what someone wants in life

    Liked by 1 person

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