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8 Characteristics of Successful Musicians (Qualities & Traits For Music Success)

  • Damian Keyes
    Damian Keyes
  • Oct 7th 2021

There are those that make it in the music industry, and those that don’t.

What separates successful musicians from those who aren’t able to carve out their desired career in music?

It's not random, there are reasons why some people 'make it' and some people don't.

Whether or not you agree that luck may play a role in ‘success’ as a concept, hard work and other personality traits are necessary to achieve our goals, especially in music.

Music is notoriously one of the competitive and saturated industries to make a living from.

There are a plethora of professional musicians out there looking for ways to turn their passion into a thriving musical career.

I think it's important to look at the habits of a successful musician, personality traits that allow them to stand out, and what specific qualities you can adopt in your own mindset to give you the best chance possible of succeeding within the music industry.

Here are 8 characteristics, habits and qualities that successful musicians possess in abundance.

Musician recording

1. Caring About Your Audience More Than Vanity Metrics And Numbers

It's important to pay attention to your growing audience and there are many ways of measuring this growth.

Whether you are paying attention to your Spotify streams, your Instagram likes, or TikTok followers, it can often be a distraction from the bigger goal of looking after your audience and creating a lasting legacy as an artist.

Successful musicians are able to separate themselves from these vanity metrics.

Not getting caught up in the numbers and exercising a more complete perspective about why they do what they do.

Yes, it's great to get more recognition, more views on your youtube videos, more followers, more streams, more income and money from playing music... but chasing numbers often stems from comparing yourself to someone else's path and journey.

It usually ends in never feeling good enough. Managing your expectations and focusing on the basics of looking after your followers is how you really make your way to becoming a successful musician.

Music fans

2. Being Consistent And Making Time Every Single Day To Create

You think "I'm just as motivated as them", "I'm just as good as them" or "I work HARDER than them"...

But for some reason, they're getting the numbers and traction that you want to get.

There is always natural talent.

But I promise you, hard work beats talent hands down every single day.

The secret is consistency.

But think to yourself honestly...

  • Do you wake up in the morning and go again?

  • And again?

  • Do you give up seeing friends at the weekend for your music?

  • Do you invest in yourself first and don't buy that new game second?

  • Do you allocate time every day to actually get better?

  • Do you throw yourself into it 100%?

When you find something that resonates with your audience, the key to growth is repeating it.

Again and again.

Bringing new people into your journey.

If you are serious about have a successful career in music, you have to practice consistency, be persistent in your music marketing strategies and commit to showing up every day.

Female bassist band

3. Exercising Patience With Your Music Career

If you are in this for the long game, patience is everything.

Patience isn't one month of trying something and giving up.

True patience is keeping going every day, adjusting your processes, and not getting stressed when you're not seeing the results you think you deserve straight away.

Patience = Success.

Being patient comes with managing your expectations of what's possible in the immediate future.

You're not going to hit 1 million streams in 2 weeks.

Write down attainable goals to become a successful musician, don't set yourself up to fail.

Then when you hit these goals, it keeps you motivated. These are qualities that the most successful musicians and artists understand and live by.

Musician practicing

4. Being Willing To Take The Hard Road, Not The Easy One

Do the hard things for an awesome life, and do easy things for a difficult life.⠀

Do you want to contact 100 spotify playlist curators today? ⠀

… Probably not.⠀

Do you want to constantly feel like you’re on the hamster wheel of content never feeling like you’re getting anywhere? ⠀

… Probably not again. ⠀

Do you want to write 50 songs for one single that you release? ⠀

… Sounds like a lot of work.⠀

When you choose the hard option every time, life is better in the long run and you succeed.⠀

If you choose easy like everyone else, you’ll always find that everything is hard.⠀

The more you do, the easier it gets.⠀

Too many musicians rely on their creativity alone to see them through.

It's great to be blessed with talent and the ability to be a professional artist, but creativity and passion does not equal being a successful musician.

Growing your music fanbase isn't easy. It requires you to work hard and also do the hard things from time to time.

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5. Not Chasing Quick Wins In The Music Industry

We live in a world of immediate gratification.

Everyone wants their wins quickly. They believe that a successful music career can come in an instant.

  • Quick wins are BS, it's that simple.
  • Nothing worth having is easy.
  • Building a fanbase takes real work.

Not giving up when things get tough or you don't get the results you want takes real work. If you're looking for the easiest, fastest way to get the numbers you want then just pay some bots for some streams and see where that gets you.

If you want to build a real and genuine music fanbase it takes time.

If you're just here to chase quick wins, this attitude will come back to bite you.

What leads musicians into thinking that quick wins are the path to being successful?

Comparison.

Comparison always leads to despair. You're comparing your worst days with someone else's highlights.

Remember that you never know someone else's journey and you're on your own path.

Music producer

6. Practicing & Improving Your Craft

Professional musicians don't become so without consistent practice.

If you want to be confident, amazing on your instrument, ready to perform at gigs, create art that people will resonate with, and work your way towards a potentially stable music career, you have to practice. It's that simple.

Dedicate time every single day to honing your craft and learning.

Try to learn something new every single day (especially in fields you know you need to work on!). You can't be amazing overnight, but you can get 1% better every day. And that really is all you need.

Results come from painstaking practice, hard work, learning, and education.

The process of learning and practicing for musicians isn't just about getting better at your instrument. It's everything.

Your attitude, your commitment to showing up regularly on socials, your content creation strategy, time management and so much more.

Social media comments

7. Not Being Defensive When It Comes To Criticism

Musicians have it tough in this regard.

We pour our heart and soul into multiple hours grinding in the studio, shaping our art, working on our band, and using our years of musical skills and passion to create something we feel emotionally attached to.

So yeah. It absolutely sucks when you go through all of that hard work and as a musician, and you spot a negative or bad comment about your music.

It requires a whole new level of resilience and mindset to be able to deal with haters.

These are qualities that don't come easy for musicians.

In music, you have to learn how to deal with rejection and the simple fact that not everybody is going to like what you do.

It's a tough world out there in the music industry. It's never easy to deal with criticism in any field, but it feels even more personal when it comes to musicians and their art.

Don't take it personally. Control what you can. Your own mindset, music, and content.

Guitar on amp

8. A Successful Musician Is A Humble Musician

Independent artists and musicians should pay more attention to authenticity.

Being real, humble, and true to yourself is how you create a long-lasting legacy with your music and your career.

You can spot a fake a mile off.

Disingenuous artists don't often get very far.

Recognizing where you came from, the journey you are on, and sharing that with the world is how you can share your passion through a lens of authenticity.

The most successful musicians are grateful for every fan and every person that chooses to follow them on their journey.

Be thankful and give more than you take.

If you are humble and take a genuine interest in your fans, they will take a genuine interest in your music and success.