Friday, February 11, 2011

Does Competition Kill Creativity?

I want to explore the subject of 'Competition vs Creativity' with regard to bands competing with other bands within the same locale. I'm going to throw a few thoughts out there that have been on my mind and I'd love to hear what you have to say as well.

Is competing with your peers necessary when it comes to the music business? If you're approaching your music with a competitive mindset, doesn't that take away from what you're creating? I tend to think it does. Being in competition with your musician counterparts breeds a 'lack' mentality. There are only so many music fans out there and if they buy music from my 'competitors,' then there's going to be less for me. If they get that gig instead of us, then there'll never be another opportunity for a gig like that again.

I think when one band competes with another they ultimately take something away from themselves. Conversely, the more you build alliances with others on your scene, the greater the amount of resources everyone has at their disposal. As Leonard Nimoy said, "The more we share, the more we have."

Some might say that competition is what drives people forward and makes them better at their craft, but I think as soon as competition is brought into the picture so is scarcity and fear. I don't know that the best and most creative ideas come from these places. I don't think when Jimi Hendrix or the Beatles were shaping popular music as we know it today, they were driven by the fear of not measuring up to the standards of their competitors. I think they were inspired, passionate and enthusiastic about what they were writing. They got lost in the music they were creating and it came from an honest place.

I believe every individual has an innate desire to create from the moment they're born. That's really all anyone needs to consistently move forward and be the best they can be. Perhaps we'd all be even more creative if we didn't ever feel like we had something to lose. I don't think it's necessary to feel as though you're being chased by someone who's trying to one-up you in order to produce high quality results with your music. Also, by always approaching things with a competitive nature, you're inevitably setting yourself up for failure because nothing lasts forever and once that first-place ribbon is stripped away, you'll be left feeling as though someone has taken something away from you.

I know many people are proud of their competitive nature and assert that it has served them well in becoming successful in their lives and that may be true, but at what cost? Whenever you approach something with the attitude that you're going to cut someone else down or take something away from them, you're putting a strain on that relationship. You're creating a scenario where there's a winner and a loser. I believe that the relationships we create in our lives are of utmost importance and the only way to create successful relationships is to always strive for a win win outcome. Anything else simply won't do.

Now it's your turn to weigh in on this. I'm always open and interested to hear what you have to say. Where do you stand on competition vs creativity?


  1. Hey Sean,

    I agree. I've always had the best experiences and outcomes when collaborating with other bands.

    What prompted this post? Are you seeing a rise in competitive musicians locally?

  2. Hey Bob, not so much a rise in the level of competition among bands as a lack of co-operation and alliances. There doesn't seem to be a solid scene happening right now in Toronto. Thanks for your input!

  3. sorry but i'm going to contradict your views a bit out here!

    "If you're approaching your music with a competitive mindset, doesn't that take away from what you're creating? I tend to think it does. Being in competition with your musician counterparts breeds a 'lack' mentality. "

    i feel that how so ever u do something whether with a competitive or even witha peacful mind ultimately u do create something don't u?? so how can u actually say that approaching something with a creative mindset takes away your creation

    even more how does being in a competition with your counterparts lead to a "lack" mentality? & what exactly do you mean by a lack mentality out here??

  4. You’re absolutely right to say that if you’re creating something, you’re creating something regardless of your mindset. I feel that what you’re creating will be of higher quality if you’re doing it from a place of personal growth and joy rather than from a place where you’re main objective is to outdo someone else. And that’s where the lack mentality comes in. The idea that if I create something better than the next guy, I will win and will ultimately be taking something away from him, is not true and I believe it will stifle your creativity.