Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) being an introvert is exhausting. Everything going on in the world around us drains us, and when we can’t get that alone time to regroup and recharge, it can cause us to shut down, making it impossible to be productive. And that’s kind of the last thing you want when you’re trying to create your next masterpiece, am I right?
Listen, from one introvert to another, I want to let you in on a little secret—being an introvert is actually a huge advantage. It means we can intuitively tap into our audience, empathize, understand them, and create art that will help them feel less alone. And as a musician, that’s a huge advantage.
But in order to reach them, you’ve got to be able to channel those strengths. So, if you’ve been struggling to find that sweet spot, check out these career-saving tips.
Practice, practice, practice
You may love being on stage, but maybe you find it hard to connect with your audience in person. Maybe you overthink what you should say between songs, or maybe your need to achieve perfection starts to take over, and then you freeze. Maybe you tend to shrink into the background a bit instead of owning the stage, especially if you’re naturally shy in everyday life.
This is where practice will become your best friend. Think about something you used to struggle with that you overcame. I bet that 99% of that was through practice. Odds are you weren’t a natural at your instrument when you first picked it up, but through consistent practice, you improved. Would you have taken the stage that first week? Of course not! So why are you putting all this pressure on yourself to be a natural on stage, when you’ve never really practiced it?
A few tips:
- During band rehearsals, resist the urge to act like you’re playing to an empty room and instead treat every run-through of your set like a live show. Imagine that your ideal audience is in front of you. What would you say? If you’re not a natural with banter, pre-plan it and practice that too. That way, you’ll have a pre-formed script to refer back to, erasing the pressure of coming up with dialogue off the cuff. Eventually, you’ll get comfortable and be able to improvise.
- Film yourself during practice. It helps to be able to really see how you move, sound, and interact.
- Take it easy on yourself. You’ll continue to get better over time, but only if you keep practicing.
Social media is your friend
The music industry is all about building relationships, and social media makes it easier than ever to do this. The people who were once inaccessible—for example A&R reps, managers, venues, editors, etc.—are now just a click or email away, and the best part is that you can now “meet” them from the comfort of your own home.
For all of those who struggle with networking in person, and the overstimulation that large gatherings and loud spaces can provoke, social media is a lifesend that has made it a snap to connect with others in your field. Not to mention, online networking gives you more control over your social interactions, allowing you the freedom to engage and respond in your own time.
Just be careful not to get sucked into the dreaded comparison game. Yes, you have to use social media consistently to get in front of fans and grow your band, but if the people you’re following just end up making you feel bad about yourself, it’s okay to unfollow or mute. And if you’re prone to overthinking and comparing, limit the time you spend on social media or ask one of the other band members who perhaps isn’t so susceptible to handle that side of things.
Practice Self Care
Above all other tips, this one is my favorite and it’s also something that is crucial to keep in mind on a daily basis, so you can maintain your sanity and be your best self.
You’ll probably feel drained after a show or meet and greet, and that’s 100 percent okay. Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel energized afterward. If you’re an introvert, between the ongoing sound that engulfs you, and the amount of people you’re surrounded by, a live show is sensory overload, and coming down from that stimulation can be rough. This is when it’s time to take care of yourself. Sure, your bandmates might want to keep the party going all night long, and they might poke fun at you for not wanting to join in, but your mental health should be a priority. If you’re not feeling your best, it will without a doubt affect your work and can lead to further anxiety, insecurity, and even depression.
Here’s my advice—make it work for you. Don’t think that you have to do what everyone else is doing. You’ll only be successful if you find a rhythm and routine that works for you. Otherwise, you’ll end up burning out and quitting.
So, how do you make it work for you? Think about the environments you thrive in. For instance, if you’re a solo artist, this may look like playing intimate coffee shop shows instead of higher cap venues. Bonus: you get to meet and interact with your fans in a way that’s going to build much more meaningful relationships and feel comfortable and organic to you.
Maintaining a daily self-care routine will also be important as touring resumes. There may not be many opportunities for you to have your alone time and mental space when you’re on the road and sharing vans and tiny motel rooms with your bandmates, so find small ways to “escape.” Wake up a half-hour early to meditate or read a chapter of your favorite book. Or drink your coffee outside as the birds sing their own songs. Take a few extra minutes in the bathroom if you have to. Whatever self-care looks like to you, do it. It will only benefit you in the long run.
Find Your People
So many creatives are introverted, including some of the most legendary music icons of all time. I bet you already have so many musician friends who are introverts and you don’t even know it! Heck, they might not even realize it themselves!
As an introvert myself, I know how valuable it is to have friends who share those same tendencies because the pressure is off. You don’t have to explain yourself for being quieter one day than another, you don’t have to feel like you have to talk when you don’t want to, or can’t, even. Find your people. The ones who understand you and will respect your space and boundaries without question.
If you’re in a band full of extroverts, you’ll find it beyond valuable to gather a group of fellow introverted performers who you can turn to for advice and relate to. Likewise, if you’re a solo artist, meeting other introverted solo artists will help you in not only feeling less alone, but you’ll also be able to swap tips for thriving as an introvert in the music industry. How cool is that?
While some days being an introvert might feel like a challenge, and leave you wishing that you could just find the energy that everyone else seems to have, embrace it. Recognize it for all the benefits it provides, and the unique ability and perspective it gives you in being able to relate to and connect with your audience.
There are a lot of us introverts out there, and from one introvert to another, I’m telling you, you’re going to change lives. You just have to trust yourself, embrace who you really are, and let it work its magic.
Erica D’Aurora is a senior publicist with Muddy Paw PR. She finds her greatest joy in helping artists achieve their dreams.