I see a lot of creatives stress over the competition, in art and in business. While you should always do your research, you shouldn’t obsess over the details. Competition will always exist, but within it, so can community.
Instead of worrying about smoking your competition, craft powerful allies.
This doesn’t mean being friends with everyone. It means creating a unique position for yourself and looking for how you can support someone else who can support you.
I don't believe that there are only so many slots open for success and if you’re not pushing other people out of the way, you’ll get left behind. If there are more good burlesque performers and more good burlesque shows (replace with jewelry designer/musician/your art form of choice), we all win. If an audience member new to burlesque sees your show and loves it, they’re more likely to try my show the next week and vice versa.
Make a list of people doing something incredible that you’d like to work with in some way, or even if they’re just kicking ass in a way that you want to emulate. Write down their name, contact info, and website or social presence, and how you could help them. Then start interacting. Go to their shows/buy their products, leave comments not just likes, share their social posts, and start to make meaningful connections so that when you’re ready for the big ask - Hire Me! -they'll know who you are, what you do, and that you care about them and their work.
Let’s focus less on comparisons to what others are doing to reinforce self negativity, and instead focus on how we can complement each other. Success breeds success.