How do we measure success?
We all know that temporal success isn’t what matters most in the end. What matters is whether we are faithful to our calling, and finish the work God gives us to do faithfully. That said, provided we do not take them too seriously, discussions over temporal success can certainly be interesting.
Those of us who frequent assorted blogs and forums in this genre often see discussions about the success of an individual group. But the broader topic of how our industry measures success is far less rarely broached.
Here are some factors that are often considered:
- Singing News Fan Awards
- Radio Hits
- Appearances at NQC
- Appearances at large Gaither tapings
- Appearances at other prestigious venues
Two more factors are less obvious and perhaps more intriguing:
Lineup stability. In our recent Bobby Clark interview, he shared a fascinating insight: “Success for quartets is measured by the longevity of singers who stay with a group and don’t seek greener grass with another group.” The more I contemplate it, the more it rings true. We tend to think of the greatest Gold City, Cathedrals, and Greater Vision lineups as the ones that stuck together the longest—and the fact that each group has had lineups approaching a decade in duration does, in turn, impact our views of the overall success of the groups. (This is, of course, not a measure of success on its own, since numerous unknown groups have stable lineups.)
Retrospective success of alumni. This is one I’ve discussed before, but it’s been over four years. While this is a factor that cannot be measured until a lineup or group has disbanded, it is one of the most telling measures of a group’s success. How successful were the group’s members after leaving the group? The current careers of Ivan Parker, Brian Free, Mike LeFevre, Jonathan Wilburn, and Mark Trammell play no small role in our view of Gold City, while the post-Cathedrals careers of George Younce, Roger Bennett, Scott Fowler, Gerald Wolfe, Ernie Haase, Kirk Talley, Danny Funderburk, and Mark Trammell play no small role in our view of the Cathedrals.
None of these factors, except perhaps the first in the bulleted list, is significant enough to define success on its own. Yet, cumulatively, the various indicators do add up.
Hat tip to two tenors who, in recent conversations, sparked the ideas for this post.