Becoming a successful musician involves mastering two diverging fields, music and business. Creating music and selling music seem to be diametrically opposed activities. Most people are better at one than the other. Right-brain types want to focus more on creating and playing music, while the more analytical left-brainers are more adept at marketing it. To succeed in music you must utilize both of these metaphorical sides of the brain. Here are just a few of the many traits that successful musicians usually possess.
There’s a big difference between being confident and being arrogant and cocky. Confident people are self-assured and don’t feel the need to brag or be cheeky like arrogant and cocky people do. As the super-confident and highly ambitious singer/songwriter John Mayer once told Atlanta’s Creative Loafing newsweekly, “cocky is when, before someone throws you a pitch, you think you’re gonna hit it…arrogance is talking about it in the dugout all day.”
They don’t fall into the stereotypical musicians profile of being flaky, undependable, stoned or drunk all the time. Being punctual is important, as is being courteous, responsive and having good communication skills.
They treat the creative side like a job as much as the business side
Practice, rehearsal and songwriting are a big deal to them, and they do at least one or the other every single day. They even practice while on vacation, because it’s natural to them to stay focused and concentrate on something they love doing even during their down time.
They have goals big and small and don’t stop chasing them. If there’s a club they really, really want to play at and the booker never responds to the press kit or the email, they don’t give up after one try. They try again. Most people who can provide opportunities in the music biz are extremely busy people and don’t have time to follow up correctly. Don’t take the lack of a response as definitive. Keep trying.
They don’t take anything personally or burn any bridges
Having thick skin is important for musicians. The successful ones let negative vibes, criticisms and perceived affronts roll off their back and keep moving forward, while those who harbor jealousy and create “black lists” get left behind to wallow in their bitterness.
“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz
“At Left Brain Turn Right: An Uncommon Path to Shutting Up Your Inner Critic, Giving Fear the Finger & Having an Amazing Life!” by Anthony Meindl
“Music Success in Nine Weeks” by Aerial Hyatt