5 Personal Traits That Will Guarantee You Success In the Music Industry

The other day I attended a seminar at Belmont’s Curb College of Entertainment called “So You Want To Be a Manager”.

I personally don’t want to be a manager, but this seminar seemed interesting and I needed to bolster my dwindling “required convo” quota. (If you don’t know or have never experienced required “convos”, be very thankful.)

The seminar was fascinating, and--as usual--my brain was only able to retain a few key takeaways. Paul Steele, the head of Good Time Entertainment, an artist management firm, said this and it struck me deeply.

He said that two qualities he has found to be rare in college students who are starting out in the music business are “high deductive reasoning and self-starting”. Paul went on to say,

If you have these two qualities, you are almost guaranteed success in the music industry.
— Paul Steele, Good Time Entertainment

That got me thinking. What are the other qualities instrumental (ha, no pun intended) to success in the music business? Here are five qualities I have observed in all (or most) successful artists:

1. An Active Passion

Inactive passion won’t get you where you want to go.

Let's say you want a cupcake. Unless you get your duffer off the couch, go to the kitchen and put that cupcake in your mouth, you will be cupcake-less. Ok, dumb analogy, but you get the picture! 

Put your passion for music in action. You love music? Great, but so does 99% of the world! Successful artists get up and put the rubber to the road.  

Don’t wait around hoping to be “discovered”. Get out there and you get your music career moving and shaking!  

2. Self Confidence

Even if you don’t believe in yourself, pretend you do until you actually do. If you don’t believe in yourself, why do you think others will?

Remember, you have something to offer the world that is unique and unreplicable.

3. A “Smart” Work Ethic

This goes along with what Paul shared in the seminar! Are you a self-starter? Do you take initiative? Do you always go the extra mile?

Remember that hard work and practice doesn’t mean blowing hours treading water. Figure out the best ways to practice and figure out your learning style.

Find out at which hours of the day/night you are the most creative. Spend time developing “hacks” for yourself that will help you learn and accomplish faster.
If the above description doesn’t fit you, it’s never too late to start developing these qualities!

4. Great People Skills

 Successful artists are successful with people. (OK. Minus Ariana Grande. She’s awful. And rude. Sorry, moving on.) Developing good people skills is crucial to your success as an artist!

If you have a vision for your music other than just singing to entertain yourself, you’ll have realized that your music is not just for you, it’s for your fans. And what better way to not only get more fans and keep the ones you have than to make them feel like you care about them!

Engage with the people around you. Listen to their stories. Respond well to their feedback.

A note to introverts: don’t freak out! You don’t have to change your personality to develop rapport with people, but it’s something you might have to work on a little more intentionally than your outgoing compadres.

5. A “What’s Next?” Attitude

When I was in my early teens, my dad would often rouse us kids out of our beds to spend our Saturdays pulling weeds and clearing the property we would eventually build our dream house on. He never would let us finish a job without us saying “Dad, what’s next?” and waiting for him to assign us to the next task. I have never forgotten that attitude he instilled in me.

Great artists never “settle” and seldom “settle in”. Musical trends and practices are constantly evolving, and great artists will be able to adapt and innovate without losing their individualism.

Also, when successful artists achieve a certain landmark in their careers, they are already beginning to conceptualize the next phase of innovation or achievement.

“What’s next” for you? Are you keeping after it?

This list was challenging to make, as I see myself lacking in many of these categories. I hope you are inspired with me to make personal growth in these key areas a #1 priority!