Answer by David Plantz, creative director, media consultant, music writer/producer:
Data is certainly popular enough to sustain businesses like Hit Songs Deconstructed, which writers, producers, record label, and radio executives subscribe to. Just like in other parts of the entertainment industry, following music trends is important to economic success, not only for executives but also for artists.
Let me clarify what I mean by music trends. It is more than the genre discussions most of us find ourselves in from time to time: Is dubstep still relevant? Did hip-hop jump the shark? Is disco back? Is country too pop these days? Will their ever be a next Nirvana?
Song writers and producers want to know even more: What’s the average song length? Intro length? Structure? Start with chorus? Is there prechorus? Most common instrument? Most common secondary genre? Are male vocals or female vocals doing better? How long are echos and reverbs? What frequency range is most emphasized? Digital drums or analog? Acoustic versus electric guitar? Noticeable effects? Average BPM? Swing in the tempo? Most popular key? Major or minor? Popular lyrical directions? Snare hits on beat two or beat three? Which songwriters are crafting most hits? What genre is out of top 20? What genre is rising in past six months? And there’s so much more …
I’ve had access to this data before and wrote a pop song or two based off it. Quite honestly, the songs I write with data objectives haven’t been as good as the ones I write for fun. One would think all this data would make it easy. It’s not. You have to be able to balance trends while still committing to something. It’s more important to know when to use the data and when to ignore it. And of course, the song still has to be good, attention-getting, familiar yet distinctive, and memorable. On top of that, it has appeal to the artist on his or her own merits and fit his or her image and audience.
If there’s anything people should know about pop song–writing is that these days the biggest hits are collaborative team efforts. The days of Brian Wilson crafting a top 10 hit are rare, at least for now. You’ll have one person craft the beat, another craft the chorus and foundation, and another craft the verses. Then the lead producer will work with the team to bring it all together into something that meets the artist’s and the label’s visions. (This is when things like guitar solos are nixed for length, tempos are adjusted, secondary genres are determined or change, etc.) The mixing engineer and the mastering engineers bring their expertise as to how to make something sound more modern or more retro based on the technical trends (frequency analysis, song dynamics, depth, etc).
So yes, data can and does play a big role. But there’s still an art to pop. Otherwise, we could just have machines craft the hits. Maybe down the road, though. Did you use data for making your songs?
According to Will: “Success is what you celebrate when you have decided your ready to give up hard work. If you want to be successful then first find out what success is to you. For some its a dinner with friends and family. For musicians.. Well who knows. Each to their own. For me, It’s seeing the influence in the world that music has created and feeling that my contribution of music has been a positive factor in that influence.
I’m not ready to give up the hard work yet so I don’t feel successful. It’s not about money or having a home or a family. It’s not about being loved or loving through your music, or about creating thought provoking art work or spreading a powerful message of hope through music. It’s not about how many album’s you have made, or how many T-Shirts exist with your band name on. It’s not about a long lasting influence on social cultures, such as the likes of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, have had.
It’s about you. How music makes you feel. When you feel that you may have achieved something that can make you smile if your ever reminded of it. All those moments you have ever had. Add them all together on the day you decided to stop working hard towards your goals. Look at your goals. Did they grow as you grew? Have you been loyal to them. When the answer is yes. Thats when.
According to Leonore: “For most musicians, I’d say that you are a success if you can make a decent living out of playing music. I am assuming you are referring to performers. I agree with others that the most famous and successful musicians are often not the best, and the amount of albums and tours might rely heavily on marketing, management and public image. To me, when a musician is well-respected amongst fellow musicians, and his/her skills are in demand, that is a sure sign that you’ve made it as a musician. For orchestra players, it might mean getting a permanent position in a good orchestra (and becoming the principle player of their section would be the top position), for smaller ensembles, soloists, jazz and other bands, it might mean being invited to perform at sought-after events, or being asked to perform with a famous musician or group of musicians. If your music touches the heart and inspires other musicians, I’d say you’ve really made it. Unfortunately, I think the view of most people would be that success in music is measured by how famous, sometimes how prolific, and how rich a musician is.”
According to Paul Griffith: “The ability to express one’s inner soul and communicate on a completely different level through the power of music is unparalleled in any other form of human communication and having the ability and determination to achieve this is immensely rewarding.”
According to Francesco Tristiono: “To be in line with what you do artistically. (Whether this works out commercially speaking is another question).”
According to Reiko Fujisawa: “Of course we all need endurance and dedication to succeed. But sometimes, success can be measured on a more everyday level – like dealing with a less than perfect piano, or resisting the urge to run away just before the start of the concert!”
Annie: “Music can change the world, I can change the world…
Passion is a strong word that can take on different forms. Whether the form is love or hate or joy or sorrow, it is a driving force inside the human soul that brings about everything, from art to war. It is a result of great passion. However, passion does not always have to be a huge war to change to world. It has been said, “If you change yourself, you change the world.” The passion inside drives these changes, and my goal is to change the world with my passion: music.
People allow their emotions to be affected by the music they listen to and this vulnerability places a great deal of responsibility on the musicians. Songs can alter people’s perspectives on different subjects. There have been stories of people on the verge of emotional and mental collapse who claim that a song literally saved their life. One night after one of my shows, a girl around 16 years old came up to me. She expressed that my song, “Crash”, had given her hope. The line, “to crash is the only release,” spoke to her and told her that sometimes it is necessary to hit rock bottom to be able to rise again. Music is powerful. Musicians have been given the gift of this responsibility. Songs can change the world. I can change the world.
Music is my passion. I cannot escape it. It is a part of who I am. It has strengthened my understanding of people and their emotions. I have come to realize that music is my calling in life and it must be nurtured correctly to be able to grow and change the world.
Melodies draw people in; the lyrics keep them listening. It is my responsibility to use my gift to change the world one audience at a time. Whatever the feeling, I will use my music to guide, relax, entertain, evoke emotion, give peace, cause reflection, give hope bring a smile, and perhaps, lift a burden.”
I have always been a musician because in my eyes, if you desire to do music and nothing but music then you will always be a musician.
I first knew when I was 5 and I wanted to learn music but my parents couldn’t afford any expensive instruments so they got me a keyboard. It was okay but after a few weeks of lessons my piano teacher (bless his heart) said I was too advanced fro just a keyboard and suggested my skills would be much better utilised on a piano.
My parents finally said they would get me a piano (after trying to persuade me to play something cheaper) and the rest was history! My piano teacher Mr. Parr was probably the best teacher I had. He gave me things that were more challenging than they should have been for someone with about a year’s worth of experience.
I remember hearing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor somewhere once and I wanted to play it badly. So I went in and memorised the toccata from ear – needless to say he was quite astonished and he got me the score which I learnt. From here on then I had a big interest in classical music and I composed my first works sometime around the age of 6 or 7 which were based around Bach’s style.
It was at this time too which I played Toccata and Fugue and my compositions on a church organ in Fingrinhoe at the local festival – he played some of Bach’s works for me too.
I was also a very good improviser too and this meant that he gave me private sessions where we would ‘jam’ and improvise and he taught me all kinds of theory knowledge such as modes and extended harmony.
Unfortunately he moved away so in high school I stopped piano lessons and carried on, on my own. However, I still retained the knowledge he gave me and in music class they were quite impressed with my composing skills. I had some other really skilled musicians in my class whom I studied with for 5 years through the last two years of high-school and then in college and in my year out too.
I then started to go serious on the earning money side of things. I started getting around with my old music friends and helping them out in production and setting up and I even recorded bits for songs.
Later I enrolled in university and now I’m starting my career as a solo musician :-)”
I have asked some musicians: How do you keep your creativity?
Here are their answers:
Sebastian Fernandez: “Eliminate all potential barriers to entry into the flow by having an optimal setup that is ready to go. Listen to other people’s work (but pay attention to the details). Embrace it when it comes but learn to also let it go when it’s not there (go for a walk, take a break). Enjoy the creative process, it’s not about the outcome. Take your time. Use Youtube to learn and develop your craft. Be comfortable being out of a comfort zone (always try to learn new things while mastering the things you know).
Rosa: “I use TikTok… There’s a lot of creative people on there who share ideas and challenge/motivate each other. Also mini tutorials, vocal excercises etc. I followed a couple that I liked and now the algorithm keeps feeding me more, so whenever I’m mindlessly scrolling I always see lots of things that inspire!”
With so many ways to promote your music online — and only so many hours in the day — how do you decide which platforms are worth your time and energy?
If you try to promote your music through every channel available to you, all at the same time, you’re going to spread yourself too thin and eventually burn out. On top of that, you’ll end up frustrated that all of your hard work hasn’t actually amounted to much.
So rather than attempt the impossible, focus your efforts on a handful of platforms where your existing and potential fans are most likely to spend their time online. (And, you know, the platforms that you actually enjoy using — or at least don’t despise.)
Here are 15 of the best ways to promote your music online.
This should be priority number one (and we’re not just saying that to toot our own horn). An official website gives your fans a place where they know they can always find you, no matter which social networks come and go.
2. Email List
Unlike social media platforms where algorithms determine who sees your content, your emails are guaranteed to land in your subscribers’ inboxes. A regular monthly newsletter is a great way to keep them informed about all things going on with you and your band.
If you love writing, consider starting a blog to build a deeper relationship with your fans. Your posts could include insight into your creative process, roundups of new music you’ve been loving, or personal stories about your life as a musician.
4. Electronic Press Kit
An electronic press kit, or EPK, is essentially a résumé for your band. It should include your up-to-date bio, music, photos, videos, tour dates, press coverage, links, and contact information. It’s always a good idea to have your EPK on hand when you release new music, book shows, or connect with music industry folks.
Facebook has long been considered essential for promoting music online, but it’s become increasingly difficult to reach fans organically over the last few years.
If there’s an audience you want to reach on Facebook and you have some budget to work with, you’ll need to get comfortable with Ads Manager. It’s a powerful tool for creating, managing, and measuring Facebook ad campaigns, but it definitely has a learning curve. As long as you dedicate some time to testing and optimizing, Facebook ads can be one of the most affordable ways to promote your music online.
Twitter reigns supreme for real-time updates and quick interactions. It’s a great channel for sharing thoughts on relevant trending topics, hosting Q&A sessions with fans, posting setlists, and much more. You can also use the search function to find people who are talking about your music (or similar artists), and strike up conversations with them.
With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram has exploded in popularity. Between your grid, Stories, IGTV, Instagram Live, and the newly announced Reels (Instagram’s take on TikTok-style videos), it’s the best place to build your visual brand as a musician.
If you have a little money to put towards growing your presence, you can promote Instagram posts through Facebook Ads Manager in the same way that you’d promote a Facebook post.
Snapchat is a fun way to connect with fans, especially if your target audience skews younger. It tends to feel more casual, in-the-moment, and personal than other social media apps, which can lead to some unique marketing opportunities that don’t necessarily feel like “marketing.”
9. Streaming Services
Most fans use streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora to listen to their favorite artists and discover new music, so you’ll want to make sure your releases are available on all of them.
Getting even one of your songs featured on a playlist can work wonders for your music career. There are millions of playlists out there for every subgenre, mood, and activity imaginable — which translates into a golden opportunity to reach the right audience at the right time.
YouTube is the second-largest search engine after Google and an enormous driver of music discovery. Besides sharing your videos on other platforms, you can help people find you by making sure that every upload has a clear and catchy title, a detailed description with keywords, and relevant tags. You’ll also want to organize similar types of videos into playlists to build watch time.
SoundCloud is one of the most artist-friendly platforms out there, especially for independent musicians and niche genres. It boasts a massive community of diverse music lovers, and it’s super easy to share or embed your tracks on just about any website. You can even use it to upload demos and gather feedback before investing in professional production.
Bandsintown is the largest concert discovery platform, used by over 500,000 artists and 50 million fans. Whether you’re heading out on tour, live streaming from home, or anything in between, you’ll be able to sync all of your upcoming events across your website and social media channels.
13. Music Blogs
Even small blog features will have a positive impact on your SEO and exposure, so seek out opportunities for album reviews, concert reviews, interviews, and guest posts.
Research music blogs that feature artists similar to you in terms of both genre and prominence, and make sure you take the time to craft a personalized pitch email that will catch the blogger’s attention.
TikTok has quickly become one of the best ways to promote music online, with over 800 million monthly active users. The app is especially popular among Gen Z, but older demographics have wasted no time hopping on the bandwagon. The fine-tuned algorithm and addictive format give you a better chance of organically reaching a new audience in comparison to other social media platforms.
Audiomack is a music sharing and discovery website that lets you host all of your tracks for free, with no storage limits. You can submit your uploaded songs for a potential feature on the “trending” page, where millions of fans go to discover new artists. You’ll also have free access to content sharing tools and a dashboard loaded with detailed stats and engagement data.
Share the music platforms where you promote your music below in the comments.
Learn how to boost fan engagement, promote your brand, and increase followers.
The rise of social media has proven to be a valuable asset for musicians. A strong social media presence is essential for promoting your music, engaging with fans, and expanding your fan base. Moreover, having an effective social media strategy connects you with music industry peers and presents new opportunities.
Social media marketing for musicians can seem like a daunting task. However, this social media tips guide will help you develop an effective strategy. The following ten proven tips show you how to boost fan engagement, increase followers, and promote your brand on social media.
1. ANALYZE YOUR AUDIENCE
Who are your fans? What are their interests? Knowing your audience and what type of content they respond to better is crucial. For example, one demographic of fans may like videos, while another likes your photos. It’s also helpful to know where your fans are spending their time online, and when they’re online. This information will help you determine the best times to post.
Most social media networks offer analytic tools that help you know your followers and track engaging content. You can also see your fans location, age, gender, and interests. Understanding this data will help you develop an effective social media strategy for your music.
There are also analytic tools like Google Analytics. They can help you keep track of likes, shares, comments, trends, and other information.
2. POST REGULARLY
Keeping your social media profile active is important. Post with regular consistency to stay relevant to your fans. This task is vital for musicians who don’t release music or play shows often. It’s critical to create content for your audience even when you’re busy in the studio or between releases. However, don’t get carried away. Fans will unfollow you or stop engaging with your posts if you saturate their feed.
Also, develop a rhythm with your posts, so people know what to expect. For example, post a mashup song every Friday at noon.
3. SCHEDULE YOUR POSTS
Scheduling your posts in advance can be a valuable way to engage with your fans without staying online all day. It’s also a smart strategy to publish when the most active users are online. Determining what days to post and at what time of day is important.
You can find this data by looking at your social media analytics.
4. SHARE ENGAGING VISUAL CONTENT
Visual content tends to generate more engagement than plain text posts. Sharing photos and videos is a great way to tell stories quick and easy. They also capture people’s attention much faster than text. Below are some visual content ideas:
Photos of your music gear, home studio, DJ equipment, fans, etc.
A photographic announcing upcoming tour dates, a new single or album, etc.
Photos or video of shows you played at or attended.
Photos or video of you making music in unique places.
A short video explaining the meaning behind a song.
Live stream yourself at an event, working in the studio, replying to comments, offering tips, hosting a Q&A, and anything else fitting.
Photos or video of favorite moments from your personal life.
Photos of inspirational quotes.
Animated GIF images and memes.
Music videos and interviews.
5. SHARE ENGAGING TEXT CONTENT
The type of content you share is critical. It’s essential you post a variety of content fans can connect with, share, like, and comment on to keep them engaged. Balancing both visual and text content is important. Below are some text content ideas:
Update fans about a new song, upcoming album, and tour dates.
Inspirational and motivational posts.
Educational posts that offer tips and techniques.
Interactive posts that encourage engagement. The most effective posts include polls, questions, fill-in-the-blank, contests, giveaways, and “caption this” photos.
Ask your fans for feedback or their opinion about something. For example, track feedback on a single, songs they might want to hear in your next set, which merch design they like better, etc.
Add a “Call to Action” to prompt an immediate response. For example, “Like if you agree.”
Categorize or theme posts with hashtags. For example, #MusicMonday, #ThrowbackThursday, #QuickTip, etc.
Tell a story. For example, share what’s on your mind, a personal experience, etc.
Make various lists. For example, your favorite plugins, songs you’re currently into, favorite music production gear, etc.
Write posts that explain the meaning behind your music, brand, or style. Also, share a positive press quote about your music.
6. OPTIMIZE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES
People are likely to find your social media profiles first when searching your artist name. That’s why having a clean, optimized profile for each platform is a top priority. Below are some social media tips for optimizing your artist profiles:
Make sure all your artist information is accurate and up-to-date. This includes tour dates, latest releases, bio, links, press coverage, etc.
Include a current bio or a link to your bio.
Create visually stunning profile images and covers. Also, make sure all images are the correct size.
Add links or a “Call to Action” to images and covers. For example, links to buy your music, your website, press coverage, etc.
Advertise with cover images. For example, create covers that display tour dates, upcoming release details, new merch, etc.
Make use of Facebook cover videos. You can upload a video as your cover. For example, create a looping video or animation that advertises your next release or tour dates.
Change your profile and cover images regularly to get some engagement from your followers.
Pin your most engaging post to the top of your page. Or, pin the post that best represents you as an artist for all new fans and music industry peers to see first.
Increase engagement on your posts with Tags. Tag all the people in your photos or videos and any companies or venues etc. Tagging also increases the reach of your posts by appearing on the feeds of those you have tagged.
Ensure all your social media platforms have the same theme. Also, post the same images across your social media platforms. Keeping the theme consistent gives the impression of a complete package. Moreover, artists that have different profile pictures for each platform is confusing. For example, fans may not immediately recognize you if all your profile photos are different.
7. USE A PERSONAL TONE AND SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY
Developing a personal connection with your fans will help solidify the artist-fan relationship. How you communicate to your fans makes a huge difference. It’s also essential that you show fans your real personality. When you start to show your true self, you’ll begin to see a big difference in the way your fans interact with you.
Take your voice beyond the music with these social media tips:
Write like you speak so that your content has a genuine personal tone. And don’t forget to give your posts a once-over for basic grammar and readability.
Personalize your message and don’t front a persona that doesn’t reflect who you really are.
Embrace your passion and don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Many fear rejection over sharing polarizing content. Letting little quirks in your personality show is ok.
Don’t be afraid to open up on social media. Let others into your world and share the good times as well as the struggles. Show your fans who you are, what your about, and where you’re going. Remember, your brand represents you, so don’t hesitate to hide that.
8. INTERACT WITH YOUR FANS
This tip is a no-brainer. However, it can go overlooked. It’s vital that you connect with your fans and show them you care. Don’t just use social media to promote your music and tour schedule. Use these platforms to interact with your fans. For example:
Don’t forget to reply to comments, messages, Twitter replies, mentions, etc. Your fans will appreciate that you are open for discussion and engaged in a personal connection.
Interact with fans by asking questions, getting involved in discussions happening in the comments, and anywhere else to keep the conversation going. Moreover, take the time to write a good response. For example, if someone says your music inspired them, say more than “thanks!” Interacting with your fans shows that you’re listening to them.
Don’t be afraid to ask followers to share or retweet your posts. Also, return the favor. Share or retweet photos, music, shout outs, quotes, and anything else relevant to you. Moreover, encourage them to post photos from your shows or remixes of your songs and tag you. You could even make a regular theme like “Fan Feature Friday.”
Remember to check your social media accounts frequently. Don’t create posts and then leave them unattended. Developing a fan base requires your full commitment.
9. SHARE CONTENT FROM YOUR FANS
pread the love and share or retweet content posted by your fans. One sure way to boost engagement and excite fans is sharing their content with other fans. It’s also a great way to show appreciation to your biggest fans.
Moreover, show respect for other artists, musicians, DJ’s, and other music industry peers. For example, share, retweet, and like content from your fans. Also, comment on other peoples Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Instagram stories, SoundCloud tracks, etc. This move shows your engaged in the music community and that your brand is not solely self-promoting. It’s also an excellent way to network and gain new followers.
10. ADDITIONAL SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS
Below are some other proven social media tips that will help you grow your followers, increase engagement, and build relationships with your fans:
Send personal invitations: Invite people to shows you’re playing in a private message.
Create a Story: Collect the best moments from your show or anything else and do a recap. Post it as a story on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.
Create SoundCloud playlists: Include songs from other artists you’re into at the moment. Spread the love!
Create a Facebook Group: Build a community and engage with them. Ask questions, get feedback on your upcoming release and other projects, share content, etc.
Live stream: Host an AMA (ask me anything), offer feedback on a project created by a fan, demonstrate music production techniques, etc.
Caption contest: Capture a funny moment before or during a show and host a caption contest.
Photo tagging: Take a photo with your fans. Let them know when/where you will post it and ask them to tag themselves.
Create Twitter Lists: Add fans, companies, venues, and other music industry peers. Lists make it easier to interact with important players in the music industry.
Write emotional headlines: Studies show emotional headlines increase shares and traffic.
Create videos: Consider ideas like how-to, behind-the-scenes, music culture, shout-outs, event recap, promotional, demonstrations, interviews, and even testimonials.
Meet your fans: Host a meetup group for fans and create an event page to share. It’s an easy way to make connections, promote your music, and invite people to your show.
Live Tweet/Stream other acts: Highlight other acts playing at a show. Also, tag them in all photos and videos. It’s also a great cross-promotional tool if multiple acts use the same hashtag.
Say thank you: Post a message of gratitude if your song received a lot of plays or after a show. Also, tag other acts, the venue, the promoter, sponsors, and any fans you met.
Promote your social media channels: Use your social media platforms to promote your other channels.
Create a podcast: Launch a podcast series and share it on your channels. Talk about your musical inspirations, life on the road, commentary about the music scene, etc.
Invite Facebook Likes: Grow your followers by inviting people who “Like” your posts to follow your artist page.
Figure out what suits your fans and then have fun with it.
“Am I really good enough? Or is this just good luck?”
Have you ever found yourself with this nagging anxiety in the back of your mind? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s so common, there’s a name for it. Imposter Syndrome. It’s common in many professions, but especially pervasive in creative careers where success can often come from subjective works.
How does imposter syndrome manifest itself? Social anxiety. Believing you’re going to fail no matter what. Devaluing your worth. Underestimating your own expertise. And not only does it seriously affect your self-confidence, but this fear can keep you from taking the necessary risks to further your career and personal growth.
Not only does imposter syndrome make it feel like you aren’t good enough for the praise you receive, but it makes you worry that it’s probably clear to the rest of the world, too—as if someone with more know-how is going to come along and strip us of the title “artist” that we’ve foolishly given to ourselves. And not just for those in creative careers—the brightest CEOs, politicians and entrepreneurs have all fallen victim to this mindset.
But for creatives, the pressure can feel even worse.
“The nature of creative work makes everyone more vulnerable to feeling inadequate and even more so if you are not classically trained,” explains author and impostor syndrome expert Dr. Valerie Young.
It’s a difficult spot to be in: you put your heart and soul into every piece and then have to share it with an art world that can be highly critical, using standards that are completely subjective.
The irony is that the deeper you dive into your art career, the more opportunities there are for imposter syndrome to bubble up inside you. If you let them, these doubts will corrode your self-confidence until there’s nothing left.
That’s why you have to figure out a way to tackle imposter syndrome head-on, before it affects the success and future of your art practice and damages your self-confidence beyond repair. So, where do you even begin?
Recognize your negative thoughts and work to change them
mposter syndrome isn’t based on reality. It’s just your mind running wild with fear, feeding off nothing but negative thoughts and self-doubt. But you know you don’t have to think this way, right? You can live in any world you choose, simply by changing your perspective.
In other words, you are what you think.
But did you know that there’s a way to train your brain to think more clearly? That there are actionable, concrete steps you can take to become a more positive person?
Of course, it’s not going to be easy. Habits, as you likely know, can be incredibly hard to break. Especially these invisible mental habits of ours. But that makes it all the more important to try!
Start small. First, work on giving up bad habits. Give up comparing yourself to others, making excuses, perfectionism, the need for praise, taking uninformed advice to heart—all the things that chip away at your self-worth and the reason you became an artist in the first place.
Become a risk taker
Fear is a natural human instinct. Fear tells you to stand back from that ledge, run from that snake, or throw out that expired milk. It’s trying to keep you safe.
The problem is when fear keeps you from doing the things you really want to do. Things that would make your art business soar.
In fact, safety isn’t always the best place to be!
Because we’re talking about a fear of failure here, not a bear in the woods. We use this fear and doubt in our abilities as an excuse to stay in our own little, comfortable bubble, because it sure beats failing in front of everyone—which imposter syndrome promises us is inevitable.
But when you really think about it, what is there to be scared of?
To get past imposter syndrome, you have to become more acquainted with the idea that failure is not the end of the world.
The worst that can happen is that things don’t work out this time around. You’re not going to die. You’re going to learn, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of in that. Every failure is another bullet point of experience on the resume, a tool in your artist tool belt that you can use to overcome the next obstacle.
And, there will always be another opportunity. The more risks we take, and the more we practice being risk takers, the less fearful we are of failure. The only way to get ahead in life is to take risks. You really only fail if you never try.
Keep a personal “brag” box
So often in a society where we are expected to achieve at every turn, we rob ourselves of the joy and meaningfulness of success. We lose our “why”.
As an artist and entrepreneur, you have a responsibility to acknowledge and celebrate your own successes. There’s no manager to give you a pat on the back or an “employee of the month” certificate.
This leaves the door wide open for imposter syndrome to waltz on in! Without external feedback from others to let you know you are doing a good job and are worthy of your accomplishments, anxiety, and fear can start to make you doubt where you are in your career.
So try this. Next time you make a big sale, get a stellar review, complete a commission that is well-loved, land a spot in a show, or get an award, take one minute to write it down. Write down what the accomplishment was, how it made you feel, why it was a success and maybe what lead to this success.
Celebrate every time you accomplish something big or small, and then keep these reminders in a “brag box” of sorts that you can use to pump yourself back up as needed. It can be an online archive, a folder on your computer, or an actual shoebox of print-outs you keep in the studio—something within arm’s reach that reminds you what an awesome artist you are.
These successes are not to be hidden or forgotten.
If you can’t trust yourself, try trusting others for a while
Whenever you start to doubt yourself, we want you to think hard about this concept…
Do you really believe that all the people who helped you get to where you are today did so because they were merely taking pity on you? That they saw absolutely no redeeming value in you or your artwork—but decided to believe in you and reward you despite their busy schedule, wealth of knowledge, and their own expertise on the line?
he jurors who’ve selected you for shows. The teachers who’ve assigned you an A grade.
You’re trying to tell us that they all made a mistake?
The people who got you here are competent.
Yes, a lot of life is luck, but that doesn’t mean in any way that we aren’t talented and deserving. You need both to succeed.
And use the credibility of the people who got you here as a form of validation.
Treat yourself like your best friend
Imagine this all-too-familiar conversation: A friend or family member confides in you that they are feeling down about themselves, doubting their abilities and self-worth.
What do you say? You jump right in reassuring them that they are one of the kindest, smartest, most hard-working people you know—because, in your eyes, that’s all true! Even if they’ve failed, you know for a fact that they’ll bounce back, and you won’t leave their side until they realize it, too.
So, why is it so easy to have compassion for others, but so hard to love and believe in yourself?
Reach out to your inner circle when you’re feeling unsure, the people who love you, know you, but don’t need to sugarcoat things. Hear what they have to say, and (here’s the key!) have as much faith in yourself as you do your loved ones. See yourself the way your friends and family see you. Listen to them. Believe them and use this to grow your confidence.
Then start treating yourself like you would treat your best friend.
Get more comfortable with openly sharing your work
A low performing post on social media. One bad critique. A show date with low attendance. These are all fuel for imposter syndrome. It’s cold, hard evidence! How could it be anything but true?
It occurs when we search for information to confirm our pre-existing ideas or beliefs (i.e. that we are imposters).
And that’s not the end of the self-sabotage! Have you ever heard of the negativity bias? It means that as humans, we tend to exaggerate and remember negative critiques much more strongly than positive feedback—no matter how much positive feedback we get. “Your brain is simply built with a greater sensitivity to unpleasant news,” explains Psychology Today, and research has proven it!
If you’re going to get over this syndrome as an artist, you’re going to have to tackle the social anxiety that comes with putting your heart, soul, and creativity on the line. Because there’s no way around it. What you create is highly public—it’s the only way to sell work!
The key once again is to remember why you create.
Ask yourself if you would make the work you make today if no one would ever see it. Would you paint or sculpt or draw that if you couldn’t show it to anyone?
You’ve probably heard dating advice at some point in your life that you “have to love yourself first.” Apply that to your work, love what YOU are making, and the rest will follow. And if you still doubt yourself? Remember that you are the expert of your art! No one knows your artwork better than you do.
Give yourself permission to be the expert.
Mentor another artist and share your expertise
Whether you teach a workshop, join a Facebook group, or grab coffee with someone just starting out, mentoring fellow creatives will help you quickly realize how much skill and expertise you have gained over the years.
And while it’s a great boost of confidence, it’s also humbling to realize that nobody knows everything all the time. Not even the most successful artists alive. We all had to start somewhere and there’s always more to learn, even when it appears that our own mentors know everything.
Mentoring another artist also takes some of the focus off of ourselves and lets us give back to the community. It gives us perspective and lets us share that creative spark with others. It’s also a reminder that we are all at a different point on the road in our journey, the important part is to keep walking.
If you want to get past that stubborn, insecure feeling, you must grow comfortable with the idea of constant learning, shedding your ego, and letting go of perfectionism. Trust that you are exactly where you need to be in this moment, and smile knowing how far you’ve already come and the excitement that there will always be somewhere further to go.
Find value in what’s different
It’s easy to walk into the room and start immediately comparing yourself to all the other amazing artists. You don’t have the same artwork or experiences or successes as (fill in name of successful artist here)—but we’re here to tell you that it’s actually a wonderful thing!
Differences are thought-provoking.
Unique experiences add to the conversation.
Different viewpoints encourage change for the better.
And that goes for whether we are talking about an art career or the artwork itself. Because everyone walks a different path, and everyone has a story to tell. There will always be someone who finds wisdom in what you have to share.
And if you inspire just one other person, even if it’s just yourself, wouldn’t it all still be worth it?
Don’t let imposter syndrome diminish your voice.
It is a mindset, not a one-time goal! And positive mindsets have to be fed constantly.
So jump on the opportunities that will build your self-confidence, give up negative self-talk, and be grateful for the people and experiences that got you to where you are today. Because we all deserve happiness and success—yes, even you!
Understanding your unique voice and knowing your purpose as an artist can help you conquer impostor syndrome.
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