10 Habits of Successful Musicians

By Loren Weisman

There are certain traits that you see exhibited by successful people in the music business. There’s a saying that if you do something 30 times for 30 days straight, it becomes a habit. By practicing and having certain habits and traits become part of you and your approach to the music business, you have a much better chance at succeeding as well as sustaining that success for a long time to come.

Humility

Being able to exhibit genuine humility is a challenge as you may find yourself in a world of ego with many different genres. Being the greatest, the best, above the rest, and better become commonplace, especially in the media. At the same time, however, that arrogance, ego, or excess of confidence can close many doors, kill opportunities, and destroy connections.

Be confident and be assertive, but take a down-to-earth, humble and respectful approach to not just those who are above you or where you want to be, but also with the people on the same level — even with those not as far along as you.

Excellent social respect skills

As simple as it sounds, many artists lack solid social skills and basic respect. From interpersonal to good communication to your awareness for others around you, it’s not only something that’s going to get you better interactions on both personal and professional levels, it may also be something that industry professionals might look at to see how you act and how you operate.

Attention to detail

Reading every line of that contract and bringing it to a lawyer or consultant if something doesn’t make sense before signing it is just one part of the attention-to-detail habits you need to practice every day. Most musicians who run in to trouble, have problems, or find themselves in the worst scenarios tend to end up there from a lack of attention to detail. Double-check everything!

Acting like a student of science

The science student has to look at the world in a way that can show proof. In another sense, it’s like being a detective. The music business is filled with theories, false claims, and flat-out lies that too many follow and then find themselves in a place where they wasted time, money, or signed a contract they shouldn’t have. Finding all the proof to support a theory, and looking at other examples of what worked or didn’t work enables you to make more informed decisions.

Prove the theories with the research and the backup information of the steps, methods, and approaches you want to take.

Problem-solving

Problems are going to arise regardless of how great the plan and how much you have in place. It’s inevitable. It’s the music industry! Your ability to run toward a problem as soon as it’s a evident with the intention to fix it and prevent it from occurring again gives you a serious leg up on those who run away and hide from snags and glitches.

Your immediate attention and effort to solving a problem as soon as you are aware of it gives you the type of reputation that others can feel confident in and trust. Also understanding (and this is adding in that habit of humility here) when you need help and can’t do it all on your own is a major factor for a productive and effective problem solver.

Honor

That whole “do unto others as you would want them to do unto you” is a little more than just the Golden Rule. In some ways it’s a silver coin of the distant past. Many musicians step on the backs of others to get ahead.

Get into the habit and have the reputation of someone who stands by their words and their actions all the time. This is a good reputation to have.

Wearing a thick skin

If you’re in the music business or any type of artistic or creative venture, anything less than a thick skin is going to make it a rougher experience as a whole. Especially as you get more popular and more recognized, the critics, haters, complainers, and just all-around mean people will show their heads.

Wear your thick skin on the stage as well. You may get people who boo. You may hear the cat calls of “You suck” and “stop playing.” Take it in, make a light-hearted joke, if you can, and keep on with the set.

It’s still good to take constructive criticism, so while building up a thicker skin and ignoring some critics is a good thing, have the ability to handle constructive criticism to make your music, your branding, your marketing, or your business that much better.

Frugal penny pincher

Get into the habit of being the penny pincher and money saver. In the best of times when money and profit starts coming in, that’s the best time to put away, save, and invest it. If you’re out on the road with most expenses being covered and profits begin to rise, keep them going upward instead of balancing them out by staying in nicer hotels.

Endurance

The trait and habit of endurance is what brings it all together in the music business. To have the energy to do the work over the long haul at the same effort level, with the same drive, and the same professionalism is one of the biggest challenges. Endurance to do all the work that has to be done and take on the small steps each day is key.

Patience

It all comes together with the patience. All the other nine habits are glued together with the patience to do things the right way, at the right time, to cultivate the right results. Just as patience is a habit for the successful, impatience and rush are a recipe and habit for the very quick to fail. Your ability to take the time when time needs to be taken protects you, supports you, and helps you find the success you’re looking for.