Traits of a Successful Musician


There’s no magic formula for how to write the perfect song or how to become a household name, though people have long searched for one and continued to come up dry. However, there are some important character traits that will serve all aspiring musicians faithfully as they climb their way into the public eye.


Integrity | No matter what happens, the best and most praised artists were always true to themselves, their sounds, and their stories. Often, well-intentioned managers or overzealous fans will urge an artist in one direction or another, but you should always be able to find your true north and navigate accordingly. By no means does this mean not to explore and experiment with different sounds and styles, but you should never do something that conflicts with a belief you hold dear or betrays who you are intrinsically.


Grit | Being a musician is hard work, plain and simple. You have to be willing to dedicate the hours to writing music, honing your craft, refining your technique, and improving your presence. If you’re serious about going into music, you’ll find yourself turning down requests to hang out with friends or attend parties in favor of logging more practice hours. You may be up earlier and later than your peers, and you’ll be creative about finding ways and times to practice.


Curiosity | You’ll never be the best at your craft, but you should always aim to be. You should always be in pursuit of additional skills and tools that you can reach for in your repertoire. Regularly read books about or written by musicians you admire. Listen to podcasts like Song Exploder to learn about the songwriting processes of artists across countless genres and disciplines. Sit with established musicians within your grasp and ask them questions about their style, methods, and journey.


Creativity | This trait comes in handy in so many places in a musician’s life. Naturally, writing and creating music requires a lot of creativity and a willingness to explore new areas of writing and producing. Moreover, how you get in front of people and make a living off your craft can require a lot of creativity, too. From new approaches to standard social media platforms to bartering goods and services for performances to make ends meet, artists have to be creative and scrappy to make their careers work.


Confidence | There’s an old saying that goes, “Artists starve because they work for free.” You have a fine craft that you want to be able to sell, both in recording and in performances, and you need to be confident in your ability to speak highly of yourself and not sell yourself short to potential fans and investors. You may be far from the best, but you’re the only you. Be proud and confident in your skills, your music, and most importantly, yourself and your personal brand.