4 Unquestionable Skills of a Successful Musician

4 skills to success

When I was a kid I was scared to death!

Scared to death of people of critisizing or rejecting my own performance. In my high school jazz band I played Tenor Saxaphone, and we played the tune, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. As you all know, “Respect” has this killer sax solo. And of course yours truly had the privilege taking the solo.

Every time we performed in front of the students or at some function, “Respect” was an obvious choice, but when the sax solo came up I didn’t have the balls to stand up. I froze like a cube. I still played it but I stayed in my seat and let the rhythm section drown me because I was afraid to stand out of the crowd.

After the semester ended we put that tune to rest and never played it.

Thank you Jesus!

The fear of criticism can be a huge barrier in our quest to become a successful musician. Today I don’t really have that fear of playing a solo but it still lingers there and everyday I’m still working on it. Repetition is the key to conquering any skill. If we repetitively face our fears that fear will reduce every time.

Many times we can’t acquire a skill due to fear and it’s a battle all humans have. We need to be more Vulcan.

Be like Spock!

Before anything… What are the “4 Unquestionable Skills of a Successful Musician?”

Many of these skills do require facing personal fears, courage is one of the attributes of a thinking musician.

Here they are:

  1. Technical Skills: Composition, Improvisation, Sight reading, Ear Training, Timing and Rhythm, playing technique.
  2. Knowledge: Music Theory, History, Versatile in all music styles.
  3. Business Skills: Leadership, Band Management, Marketing, Promotions, Finance, Social Media, Delegation.
  4. People Skills: Networking, Negotiations, Public Relations, Sales.

Many musicians today have only the first two skills (technical and knowledge). They have the chops to just rip on their instrument and know everything about music theory, music history, the names of members of their favorite bands, where they live, born, who they studied with, went to school, blah blah blah…

That’s all fine and dandy but if you’re looking for a career in music the first two skills will only get you so far. The last two skills (business, people) will land you your dream gig and make you a bazillion bucks.

Well, maybe not a bazillion, but you get what I’m saying.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Well, I don’t like business and I’m not that much a network type person.” That’s fine, just find people that can handle those areas. That would mean you’d have to hire a manager, get a record deal with an indie or major label (which doesn’t really happen much these days).

There is a wave of musical entrepreneurship in 2015 and we need to grab our surf board and catch that wave. If you don’t know how to surf then you can learn. Anything is possible my friend.

Many musicians today are making six figures, promoting and marketing themselves. Remember, part of becoming a thinking musician is picking up new skills. Become a learner, and if this new skill is not your cup of tea, that’s okay once you began making enough cash you can outsource that particular job.

This is part of becoming an entrepreneurial musician (aka… thinking musician)


  1. Master the “4 Unquestionable Skills of a Thinking Musician.”
  2. Pick up new skills.
  3. Outsource a job once you can afford it. Delegate.
  4. Face your fears repetitively and they will reduce in size.
  5. Learn a new skill because you have to, not because you want to.

Thanks my friend for reading and please let me know in the comments section below…

What’s a skill you fear that is preventing you from succeeding?

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