What Avicii's Life and Death Can Teach Us
Sad. Shocking. Gone too soon. The music industry is grieving Avicii's death.
Tim (his real name) once said in one of his videos ¨When I die, I want to be remembered for the life I live, not the money I make." So much could be read into this statement alone.
His premature death could be just that: devastating news for his community, his loved ones and the industry at large.
His life’s legacy could be just that: hit records, impressive numbers and an array of remarkable achievements.
But there could, and should have been, so much more.
What are some of the things we can learn from the life of a star who burned so bright and so fast?
LIVING THE DREAM
Tim lived his dream and arguably fulfilled his life’s purpose. On his website he stated that ¨creating music is what I live for, what I feel I was born to do¨ and his passion for his art was noted by many. Looking back on his career, he declared to THR ¨When I look back on my life, I think, 'Whoa, did I do that?' It was the best time of my life in a sense. It came with a price — a lot of stress a lot of anxiety for me — but it was the best journey of my life¨
Tim disappeared aged 28, and leaves a big legacy behind. Beyond his many achievements and incredible successes, he also inspired thousands of young kids - some of whom also made it big - to chase the dream of a career in music.
That same dream that's now being talked about in more realistic, honest ways in behind-the-scenes documentaries, as more artists are coming forward explaining what it's really like and exposing the non-glamourous realities of life as a touring DJ.
THE PRICE OF SUCCESS
Tim started touring straight out of high school, and was known to play around 300 shows per year. The ‘show’, of course, is not a mere 2 hour dj-set, and comes with an assortment of extras, including constant travel, jet-lag and sleep deprivation, adulation and loneliness, partying and alcohol abuse, stress and anxiety, pressure to perform/promote/be social and so on. Hard to manage for any given person, and even more challenging for a 20 year-old self-declared introvert, I would assume.
Parts of the documentary Avicii: True Stories show the extreme pressure he’s under, coming to dread his next performance, ridden with anxiety, as well as battling with health issues linked to alcohol abuse. Those led to various hospitalisations he considered wake-up calls, before deciding to completely retire from touring in 2016.
“I wasn’t sure if it was going to last, I really tried to take advantage of it and I completely overdid it. I’m happy I did it then, and I’m happy I got that hospital visit now, ‘cause if not I probably would have still kept going and in a year or two years probably something way worse could have happened. Something that’s irreversible. This is not irreversible at all. It was just kind of a wake-up call.” (inthemix)
LIFE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Self-care and having a balanced life don't tend to be priorities in the music world. This doesn't make a lot of sense since artists and freelancers ARE their own business, and companies ARE their staff - which means that business IS compromised as soon as mental and physical health are compromised
Amongst many other challenges, there’s also the workaholism, perfectionism and overachieving tendencies - reportedly characterizing Tim’s personality, which are seemingly rife in the industry.
Running after success with zero boundaries for fear it’ll all stop tomorrow, or for fear someone younger will take your place. For fear, even, that you’re not good enough - attaching your self-worth to your external achievements.
Explaining the reasons he quit touring to Rolling Stone last year he stated ¨I needed to figure out my life. The whole thing was about success for the sake of success. I wasn't getting any happiness anymore" and that he ¨should have stood up for himself more, and stopped the ship earlier¨. His retirement letter also lamented having no time to explore his other interests and for the ‘life of the real person behind the artist’.
You don’t need to be a famous star with an insane schedule to relate to all of this. Striving for success is rarely about making ends meet. Striving for success without properly defining what success actually looks and feels like (to you) can be a recipe for disaster.
Tim thought he was the only one feeling like shit. Nothing could be further from the truth, despite what is shared on social media. If only you could go and live inside the head and body of this or that person that ‘made it’ and that you want to emulate, you’d be very, very surprised...
External signs of success don't necessarily bring happiness, we all know that. Any of us can die tomorrow, we also know that. ¨Death is the only wise advisor that we have¨ *. Death teaches us how to live life.
It teaches us to be courageous enough to go after our dreams. To be wise enough to listen to ourselves and to our bodies. To be conscious enough to understand what our life is really about, and to be strong enough to make the necessary adjustments when we’re off-track.
Tim went on that journey. He spoke to the Hollywood Reporter about how he felt after he stopped touring: “I just feel happy. I feel free at this point. Like I have my private life back and focusing on myself for the first time in a long time. So far it has paid off tremendously in terms of well-being for me. I’m happier than I have been in a very, very long time. Stress-free more than I have been in a very long time. I can’t say I’m never going to have a show again. I just don’t think I’m going to go back to the touring life.”
Avicii’s life impacted millions and his legacy will live on forever. Let his death not be just one more name in the ‘artists who disappeared too soon’ list.
Let’s learn from it and let it be a wake-up call, for all of us.
Let this inform how we live our own lives, and understand the impact we have on other people’s lives.
Let’s take good care of ourselves, and let’s look out for each other.
* Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan
FEEL LESS ISOLATED ON TOUR IN 3 SIMPLE STEPS
Get my FREE video + worksheet created to help you feel less lonely and more connected - so touring becomes that little bit less challenging
STAY HEALTHY IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Create your own self-care routine with this checklist