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The Total Package - The 10 Things An Artist Needs To Be Successful

1. Heart -This is the single most important attribute that every "true,"great artist must have. Without it, great music cannot be felt, imagined or created. It is the essence and spirit behind one’s own art. It is the powerful force behind the drive, perseverance and originality that brings art to life and creates the charisma that bonds great musical artists with their fans.

2. Conviction – In the context of making music, this is the total and absolute belief in yourself as an artist and in your ability to write great songs. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will and greatness will always be just one step too far away.

3. Drive –This is what fuels an artist's belief that their music is great. It’s the unrelenting force that makes everything an artist needs to do to succeed a realistic possibility.

4. Perseverance - Over time, this is what permits an artist to become successful. The amount of it that is required to succeed is different for every great artist. No one ever knows how much perseverance will be necessary before their music becomes accepted by enough people to make it really matter. You just have to hang in there until it all comes together. Those who do hang in win big.

5. Originality - It is the game-changing quality that embodies an artist's persona and music. It’s what separates great music from the music everyone else makes and allows it to stand apart from all the rest.

6. Great Songs – A great song is made up of words and melodies that embody the artist’s spirit and soul. Together they forge a sound so special that those who listen to it are moved to emotionally bond with it and ultimately own it in some fashion. Some artists write one great song and live off the proceeds for the rest of their lives. Great artists never stop trying to achieve a musical high by challenging themselves to constantly raise the bar and write better and better songs. If they could do it, great artists would roll this feeling and smoke it 24/7.

7. Appealing Image - Create and develop an appealing image that is comfortable for you yet edgy enough to define and differentiate who you are as an artist. You must have the confidence to live your image and explore it in every way you can. Great artists evolve their image and eventually it becomes a brand unique only to them. A true image can not be contrived or forced. It comes naturally, feels right and fits you and your artistry. Most importantly your image must be one you can convincingly sell to your fans both on and off stage. Ultimately your image must become a part of who you really are and is the visual link that connects you with your fans and they back to you.

8. Great People Skills - The ability to communicate with your fans one on one as well as connect with a large audience has become more important than ever. Be passionate about your music both in the studio and live. Retain your fans by including them in your creative process and doing things that make them feel exclusive. Ask fans to create graphics, videos, lyrics or mashups that require your feedback. Every artist should personally host exclusive chats, videos or live performances. To make either of these tools truly effective requires your hands on communication. It's never the same when others do your talking or communicating for you. Somehow people can figure out it's not you regardless of the medium you are in. Your honest communication only strengthens the connection you have with your fans. You can practice what you say to your audience at a live performance until you feel so comfortable that talking to your audience becomes second nature. Don't be self conscious about how your fans will perceive you. Be real and be yourself. No matter how many mistakes you make, a true fan will love you for who you really are.

9. An Accomplished Live Performance - The greatest musical artists combine incredible music with a compelling performance. Of course, a great song can stand on its own without an accompanying live performance. But great music played live by a powerful, exciting, charismatic performer gets taken to a much higher, more memorable level. Some people are born to play live and others have to work at it to be good. Work through your fear to perform if you have any. Practice until your vocals are flawless and your instrument becomes a part of your body. Fearless execution is the goal. Work on integrating your chosen image carefully with your live performance until it is seamless. Deliver the same high caliber performance whether there is one person in your audience or 10,000. Live music connections are all important and almost singlehandedly drive every aspect of an artist's success financially and otherwise.

10. Understanding the Ever Changing Music Business Environment - The art of your music should never cater to commerce but it should always be aware of it. As technology and innovation constantly change the channels of music distribution in our world, embrace these changes, and never turn a blind eye towards them. Always remain on the cutting edge of this change and never allow yourself to be co-opted by whatever system is in place. Always be flexible. Dare to be different, keep your sense of humor and most importantly keep things simple. Life is just never meant to be that complicated nor is the music business.


Reader Comments (2)

Caught myself dissecting the proportions - intially disturbing that only 45% relate to MUSIC (great songs, live performance and originality) - then realized you may actually be close, based on todays DIY necessity/opportunity, which was, well, even more disturbing...

then realized the value weighting isn't what is most important here!!

What you have done is effectively summarized what it takes for an artist to be successful - period. Regardless of my or anyone's personal assessment of appropriate percentages - and whether they are done by the artist or delegated - it seems pretty clear that if an arttist/team ranks HIGH in:


that is one FORMIDABLE ARTIST, who stands a VERY good chance of breaking through the clutter and making a mark!!!

And while that may seem somewhat obvious, how many artists REALLY fit that description???

Thanks for the checklist, MUSICBIZGUY, I will keep it in focus - with an action plan for each category and perhaps weekly checkpoints, this could easily be a blueprint for massive progress - GREAT post!

NOTE to site moderator: the deep content here - commitment to "true (natural) image, seamless live performance, fearless execution, embracing changes in technology and innovation, daring to be different", and more, all very well and succinctly stated...occurs to me this embodies SO much of MTT values that this post should be moved to main page so more will see and benefit...

May 3 | Unregistered CommenterDg.

It's a pie chart.

Personally, I had a hard time even reading this article. Factually, great songs are at the core of this and make up a very large percentage. I'm not saying that because of my "feelings" about what music "should be" -- I agree, DIY hustle and business sense are more crucial than artists would like to admit. However, you still need good product to run a successful business. So the 20% cut for music is my first quibble.

My second would be "Perserverance, Conviction and Drive." I find it really hard to believe those three characteristics are so different they need their own slices. It all comes down to work ethic, right? So let's just use a single term.

Less is more, especially when you're trying to explain the big picture.

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