I know you have been to a concert where the performers did a fine job and the audience reception was less than enthusiastic. We have also been to a less than stellar show that received a standing ovation because the audience was swayed by popularity or perhaps simply thought it was expected. Applause is not always a measure of how well you do or how intrinsically good you are at your art. So how do we measure how we are doing? How do we set goals for steady improvement? I have a couple of ideas but then you probably figured that out.
1. Set standards that aren't always tied to your art - I truly believe that we have a duty to give without thought of return. If your group or you as an artist have a plan to give through your art to support worthy causes and you do so, then you can measure that as success. When you have reached those goals, you have attained a large measure of success. That part of your work is very able to be quantified because you either did or you didn't.
2. Get outside guidance - If you are trying to measure your art, then you must have someone who is well versed in your art and whom you respect to listen, look at or review what you are putting out there. In doing so, remember that this is only ONE person's opinion. Put into practice what you find helpful in that adjudication and see if it helps to improve what you had thought needed change.
3. Make mistakes - We also have to allow ourselves to make mistakes and be good with that. If we aren't making mistakes we sure as heck aren't learning. Celebrate the mistakes and the learning curve that occurs afterwards. Mistakes give you a path to follow to get better in every aspect
4. Just know that it is good - I remember well going to the Music Festival. As my sister and I prepared to head out for our Festival performances, our mum would say, "Remember, that you are doing your very best today and the adjudicator is just one person and has but one opinion." My sister and I would nod sagely and then Margie would say, "But mummy, I'd rather win!". And that was that.
So although we need the opinion of others, we do need to win, get that applause and pat on the back.
If you record your work even occasionally, you will be able to tell whether the sound you make is improving. Do you have a better blend? Did you nail the rhythms that gave you grief? Did you enjoy that performance? The yes answers count as wins and you need to remember those.
A positive attitude is absolutely necessary to learning, changing and presenting your art. Love what you do and even when it isn't stellar, learn and move forward. That is the measure of art.