Traits Of A Professional Musician


There are some traits and characteristics that all professional musicians should have. If you are lacking some of the traits listed below, then it may be time to evaluate your characteristics and look at how you can improve in being a professional musician. These traits are what separates the regular everyday musician from a true professional musician. If you are new to the world of performing on stage, these things will help to build a positive reputation.


As a music professional it is important to know what it is expected of you when being hired. Specific information may require a contract, but general information can be obtained by effective communication.

Asking details like :

  • Expected pay
  • Length and time of gigs
  • If rehearsals are required
  • Dress attire
  • Place and time of gig, load-in time

The bottom line……never be afraid to ask a questions – Be sure to write notes, or get needed info by email. Having a list with keys of songs should be recorded, because key changes are one of the problems with bands. Songs definitely can be started in the wrong key, and having a professional team will help in correcting problems smoothly. Information like set lists and pertinent information can be obtained through email communication

Following Directions

A professional musician knows how to follow directions as needed. Musicians are hired to fill a specific job and must be able to listen and execute the tasks as needed. They need to be team players and be able to give their clients what is needed.

In agency type gigs, you may get specific instructions from your band leader or contact person. Some high profile gigs may not always feed the band or the band may eat in a different area. Although its sometimes hard to accept the terms given, you still must maintain your professionalism and follow instructions.

If you are told to load-in at the loading docks, you can’t take it upon yourself to walk through the front door with all of your equipment. As crazy as it sounds, musicians violate and disregard instructions all of the time.

Whether on stage or obtaining details for a show, following directions is a key attribute for a professional musician

Well Organized

Organizational skills are imperative for a professional musician. Having this skill allows a musician to plan appropriately as needed. Scheduling and keeping a written calendar can help in not overbooking gigs, as well as planning time so that all areas of life are in balance. If you don’t organize your tasks you will have issues that may be detrimental to your music career.

Having notes clearly written for gig details, as well as having a set list as needed to help in learning music and the final performance.

It’s a combination of the little things that can make a difference in how you are perceived as a professional.

Play Well With Others

There is no way around it, you must be able to play well and get along with others. Whether you are a studio musician or live performer you will need to interact with others. Being able to listen is the key. Learning how to flow and using music etiquette when performing on stage is also a part of being professional. Learning how to let others shine while on stage and waiting for your turn to show what you’ve got, is all part of being a music pro. Remember that great musicians generally play off of one another. They are able to transfer energy from one another to create great music. When you learn how to play tastefully with other musicians you will open the door for more opportunities.

Being Prepared For The Job

Preparation is one of the most important traits for a professional in any field. Practice and learning your music is always MUST. If you aren’t prepared it will show. When you have prepared for a gig or show, it is evident and you will set yourself up to get hired for more gigs.

Knowing what to wear is also part of preparation. Showing up to the gig with the wrong attire will be perceived as not being prepared.

Calculate your time in getting to rehearsals and gigs. Understand that you may have traffic, and depart earlier as needed to ensure that you arrive on time. There is nothing more frustrating than having musicians that mosey in while people are waiting. Remember that everyone’s time is important.

There are more characteristics of a professional musician but these 5 traits are most important while working in the music industry.

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