Rohin Dhar of the Priceonomics blog with the success story of a band that made it by going truly independent, and after lots (10,000 hours) of only retrospectively-appreciated work:
Over the past four years, the rock band Phish has generated over $120 million in ticket sales, handily surpassing more well known artists like Radiohead, The Black Keys, and One Direction. Since their start 30 years ago, Phish has consistently been one of the most popular and lucrative touring acts in America, generating well over a quarter billion dollars in ticket sales.
Yet, by other measures, the band isn’t popular at all. Only one of their original albums has ever made the Billboard top 10 rankings. None of their 883 songs has ever become a popular hit on the radio. They’ve made only one music video to promote a song, and it was mocked mercilessly by Beavis and Butthead on MTV.