1. David Bowie
2. Nick Drake
3. Big Star Feisty Face
I made the last one up but he's a generic chart topper aged 17.
1. Bowie has very little talent for any one thing. Sounds wrong, doesn't it? I love Bowie - always have done. He can sing, act, play multiple instruments - in a band or solo, writes songs, has his songs sung by others, receives awards and adulation and so on. But Bowie succeeded with SOME talent and a LOT of hard work. Imagination, inventiveness and foresight were also important elements for Bowie's continued success. Maybe a good manager/agent - don't know.
2. Nick Drake is considered by some as almost God-like. I think he's dull. Nevertheless he was a better singer, songwriter and guitarist than Bowie. The fact that he died young may have had some influence on his career but it was never going anywhere anyway, as far as I can tell.
3. The chart topper met a bloke in a pub, went to an audition and three months later is on stage with 20 girls dancing behind him - a definitive overnight success.
Can you be Big Star? Are you? Then no. You wouldn't be reading this if you were that talented - you'd be making music.
Can you be Nick Drake? Maybe but are you in the right place at the right time with the right product. Success on talent alone is possible but a small niche market is going to be about the best you can achieve, if even that. Drake did have some success but he wasn't Cat Stevens in 1967. He may have went on to achieve mainstream notoriety in his lifetime but only if he was promoted over others - that's just how the music industry works.
Can you be Bowie? Yes, because you understand analogy and can conceive of how it's possible to transform information and are prepared to put in some work. I don't know how Bowie got his initial start but we do know he didn't base his entire career on songs similar to The Laughing Gnome.
So the answer to the title of the question is that if you have the talent you can have overnight success but you will probably need to be given some sort of opportunity by someone else. Maybe you'd be happy with just doing a few small concerts and selling your CDs in the street, and to many that might be success, because even if you do have talent it's not always required by those who would help you exploit it
The moral of this ramble being that we should emulate Bowie for success in marketing by being adaptable to market needs, fulfilling those needs by whatever means is necessary and by improving or learning new skills all the time so that when opportunities arise you are prepared to meet them. I think we have reached a conclusion which has probably been reached a million times already on this forum - seems like I've just repeated the obvious in a different way.
There you go then: you can become an overnight success with a fair amount of talent if you stand out and get hired (Big Star Feisty Face). Or you be the best in your field at the time and hope that your output is liked by those who have to output it or take a tiny piece of the cake instead of the whole thing (Nick Drake). Or you can start with a few skills and determination and end up with overnight success after overnight success so long as you trudge on (David Bowie).
TO BOWIE FANS:
You have to admit that you never, ever play Aladdin Sane in its entirety.
And can you honestly say that you can get through more than 30 seconds of Bowie's voice on his cover of Laurie Anderson's Superman?
His sax playing? A bit rough.
He's not known for his guitar licks.
His film acting a bit wooden, maybe?
His songs pretty awful at times - the album above being an example.
All of this and I still like him? He INSISTED that I did! And I sing his songs to myself all the time. Fill Your Heart is a good one for that.