It's a race to the finish. Are you in the 50 meter or 100 meter dash? Or are you in a 10-20 mile long triathlon with the race changing every few miles? It all depends on where you have your mind set as to what "success" is. Do you finish an album, share with a few people and have a lot of congratulations? Make $20 on iTunes or CD Baby and hope the music changed at least one person's life? Or maybe you want to live like a rock star? Everybody has their own vision of success and each has their own road to it.
If you go onto CD Baby, the average album sales for an artist/group is $340. Now that number is off a lot depending on how much work you're willing to put in. If you only wanted to make an album that the world has a chance to hear, than your job is done. You made $20 and can now eat Chipotle for a few days. If you decided to promote it yourself (depending on your talent), you can sell near the average of $340. Now if you put the album out, do some shows, promote, and build a fan base this is where the numbers push the average. You may sell over $5,000 (CD Baby had around 50 people sell over $10,000) and you become a mini rock star and you can not only eat Chipotle for all 7 days of the week, but pay rent for a few months.
Success is defined by Webster as "a favorable or desired outcome". So it all depends on what you want to do. Music is not a career for everybody, so getting recognition is not always top priority. If it is your career then recognition is of the utmost importance, because how else would you be able to survive? Even if you want to work in the background of things (i.e. studio musician), recognition is still important to be able to show that you are willing to help people out.
So putting into consideration your definition of success, how much work are you willing to put in?
From the mind of