Why Every Successful Artist Throughout History Started Their Careers By Creating For an Audience of One

Srinivas Rao
5 min readJun 27, 2019

In a world where we’ve quantified the value of people’s artistic endeavors with reviews, rankings, fan, and follower counts, modern-day artists have become excessively concerned with validation from strangers on the Internet, and metrics over master when it should really be the other way around. It seems counterintuitive that you could reach an audience of millions by creating for an audience of one (aka yourself).

Successful artist throughout history started their careers by creating for an audience of one.

Because Everybody Starts at Zero

Most people who start making art don’t know they’re going to become famous. They love the work. So they keep doing it. You have to love the work to build a career in the arts. If you don’t, you won’t be able to navigate the geography of a creative life and get past those periods of lingering obscurity, which is a rite of passage for artists.

  • Every writer starts with zero readers.
  • Every podcaster starts with zero listeners.
  • Every musician starts with zero fans.

The only way you get past zero is by starting with an Audience of One. If you aren’t willing to persist when nobody is consuming your art, then you’ll never actually get to the point where people are consuming your art.

Because of the Eternal Gap Between Ambition and Ability

If you keep making your art, make better art, and eventually make unmistakable art, you will become so good they can’t ignore you. You’ll build an audience for your work. But you can’t rest on your laurels. There is no “I’ve made it” moment because there’s an eternal gap between your ambitions and abilities.

  • After becoming the most famous composer in Bollywood, A.R…

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Srinivas Rao

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