Whoever said the music industry is not for the faint of heart has obviously never met an introvert. We are BORN for this. While on the surface it might not seem like the fast-paced, high-stakes, often challenging world of the music industry is the place for a soft-spoken, shy, humble introvert you might be picturing in your head; the truth is, that we were actually made for this environment.
Hear me out…
As a lifelong introvert, I never thought that I’d excel at anything other than quietly making things happen in the background or the subtle art of leaving a party without leaving a trace. I’ve always been quiet, and people assumed that meant I was also shy. And because of that, it was easy to be overlooked. People didn’t really notice me, which meant I got to stay safe, but that also meant I wasn’t given the room to grow.
And as an introvert, there’s a part of you that wants to stay unnoticed, so you don’t really fight it. Of course, building success in the music industry means you’re going to have to put yourself out there at some point and have people notice you. The truth is that as an introvert, getting seen can be a bit of a challenge.
But trust me, you are made for this. Think about it — who is a better listener than introverts? Who is a better empath, able to pick up on the needs of those around them?
Both are key skills for strong networking, a must in today’s industry. And who else is introspective enough to create intricately woven melodies that capture your fan’s emotions, or write lyrics that I’d swear came out of my own feelings? Introverts. And who has the ability to truly connect with those around them, to see both sides of the story, and be there in a way that makes others feel seen, heard, and cared for? You’ve got it… introverts.
1. Realize your gifts.
All the things that so many of us introverts see as flaws are actually gifts. They are the skills that set us apart, and the best part about it all is, we don’t even have to try — it’s just who we are.
For all my fellow introverts out there, I see you. I am you. And if you’ve ever struggled to show up in a way that feels both authentic and honors the space, time, and recharging you need, I hope this helps you. Because I’ve been there too — I am still there most days. It’s an ongoing journey and at the center is remembering two things:
- You have just as much a right to be here as anyone else.
- You can be an introvert and. An introvert and a musician. An introvert and a great networker. An introvert and a success.
Whatever you want, your introvertedness is just a vehicle that helps get you there. Never a hindrance, always a gift.
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2. Acknowledge your strengths.
Now that you can realize your natural gifts, I’d love for you to acknowledge your strengths. Some of them we’ve outlined already, but there are no doubt plenty more. This isn’t the time to be humble — go ahead, brag on yourself a bit! What is it that makes you who you are? What is it that makes your friends trust you above anyone else? What makes your music so compelling that fans can’t wait to hear more?
Think about the things we talked about — you’re a good listener. You understand people. You’re intuitive. You can feel things more deeply than others. You’re introspective. These are all great qualities. Acknowledge them and then, learn how to apply them to the industry.
3. Learn to utilize those unique superpowers.
Like I said, introverts are basically superheroes. We have a set of skills that no one else does, and it makes connecting with others much more natural for us — even if we are shy at first. So looking at your set of skills and learning where to apply them for the most impact is the next step to showing up authentically.
For instance, if you feel you are an especially strong lyricist, then you want to start highlighting your lyrics outside of your songs. You can do this by making social media graphics or putting your lyrics on merchandise.
Are you introspective? Share those thoughts (which you know others will be able to relate to) in a blog post or social media or podcast.
Are you a great listener? Invite your fans to send you anonymous questions or struggles and share your own experience. Be there for them. Let them see how similar you really are.
4. Know your limits — but don’t be afraid to push them a little.
It’s important as an introvert to know your limits. We draw our energy from alone time and from within, meaning we prefer a quiet cup of coffee and a book to a crowd of people. The latter can drain us, while the former energizes us. It’s why we tend to remain so inward all of the time.
However, it’s important not to use this as a crutch. Being an introvert is empowering, so try to resist the urge to use it as a bandaid for not doing the things you don’t want to do, or that scare you. There’s still a lot of power in going outside your comfort zone.
Take it from an introvert who went from literally hiding in the bathroom at networking events to creating and hosting those events herself — it can be done, and, when you find the right circumstances, you might even realize you enjoy the community that comes with being in a room full of others just like you.
So while you want to respect your limits you also want to challenge them. Instead of simply leaving after your show and not talking to anyone, give yourself the opportunity to connect for 20 minutes. You can even give yourself permission to leave after that 20 minutes is up, making it a good compromise between caring for your energy, and still growing as a person.
Try this with the other things you’re usually uncomfortable with as well. It could be talking to fans, performing, or showing up on social media. Give yourself permission to try new things (and to be bad at them at first — we all are) without robbing yourself of the experience altogether.
Above all, remember that being an introvert is a gift. While society (and ourselves to a degree) may have conditioned us to believe the opposite, the truth is we have a unique set of skills and understanding that allow us to not only build a life authentic to who we are, but to touch others who may face the same challenges.
It is a privilege to show up as an introvert in this world, and I hope you’ll join me in embracing it and choosing to see the strengths. Because as introverts, there’s nothing we can’t do.
(originally published for Soundfly)