One cliché that might just describe the success of a musician the best is the one about the ten thousand hours necessary to master a skill. That said, a well-rounded musician needs to master more skills than just one. Still, while talent is very important, it isn’t always crucial.
“It’s not that talent doesn’t matter in the music business,” explains Senior, a successful musical artist. “It’s just that there’s no amount of talent that can cover a musician’s lack of work on their art and craft. True artists are made, not born, and it helps if they’re able to develop certain character traits or qualities.”
Sticking with the ten thousand hours of practice, the first quality that comes across anyone’s mind when they hear about such an arduous practice regiment is self-discipline. It would be next to impossible to complete that much practice in a reasonable number of years without having the ability to make oneself sit down or stand up, depending on the skill, and practice.
“Discipline is great when beginning a career, and it’s helped me a lot, too,” says Senior. “I have committed to releasing an album a year, which requires consistency and a good work ethic, both of which rely on the ability to regulate myself that comes from self-discipline.”
Later on, when an artist might fall into the temptation to lose oneself in the trappings of fame is where discipline can save their life. Discipline is the quality that follows artists throughout their careers.
The ability to persevere is another vital trait artists should be quick to develop. Every career has its ups and downs, and the downs are where most careers start. It takes time to pick up steam and start on an upwards trajectory.
Once an artist achieves a certain level of success, no one can guarantee that a career will stay on that level. Singles flop. Albums fail to chart. Concepts turn out to be uncommunicable. Through all those times, the artist has the weather whatever negativity comes their way. They have to persevere and preserve enough energy to stand up and try again.
“Artists’ biggest reward comes from the fact that they take something on their own, present it to the world, and get praise for it,” continues Senior. “That’s also the source of one of their biggest pains — when their art doesn’t get the recognition the artists think it deserves.” In those situations, having a thick skin and a good sense of perspective can prove to be invaluable. The type of resilience that lets people roll with the punches like it’s no big deal can save a career.
Finally, every artist should have a good sense of people. When the limelight is on them, they’ll start attracting all kinds of shady and sketchy characters. Suddenly, they’ll have a lot of “friends” and hang-ons who want nothing more than to serve their own agenda. Some of them can easily find their way into the business side of a musician’s career. Managers, publicists, and every other person who should be there to support the artist and serve their career can sometimes do everything but that. It’s important for an artist to be able to identify those people and cut ties.