For any artist, sharing the art that you’ve poured your heart and soul into can be one of the hardest things in the world. Add a good dose of introversion to the mix, and the challenge becomes even greater. Not only do introverts tend to have a hard time knowing when their work is finished, many are also risk-averse and tend to shy away from the types of publicity stunts that more extroverted artists might take when sharing their music.
All of this can add up to a lot of anxiety for introverted musicians, as well as a lot of unreleased music. But being a musician, whether introverted or extroverted, shouldn’t just be about making music for yourself (however much you might enjoy that process). No matter what kind of music you make, the music becomes greater when it’s shared.
So if you’re having a hard time calling some of your songs “finished,” or if you’re nervous about what might happen once you release those songs out into the world, here are a few points of encouragement to keep in mind.
Strive for excellence, not perfection
Perfectionism is a personality trait that can be found among people of all types, although it’s most commonly found among artists, especially ntroverted ones. Renowned personality psychologist Isabel Briggs Myers put it this way:
“Whereas extroverts tend to broaden the sphere of their work, to present their products early (and often) to the world…the introvert takes the opposite approach. Going more deeply into their work, introverts are reluctant to call it finished and publish it.”
While this tendency towards perfectionism can be a strength (how many great artists and musicians throughout history have been diehard perfectionists?), it can also seriously inhibit your ability to share your songs with the world. For this reason, it’s important to remind yourself that while perfection may seem impossible to achieve, excellence is always within reach.
Sometimes it takes a trusted outside source to remind us of this – someone like a producer or bandmate who can listen to your latest song and tell you that the things you’re worried aren’t actually that important. In fact, what sounds to you like a horrible mistake may pass by completely undetected for any other listener. So give yourself a break and remember that no one will ever be more critical of your music than you are.
Embrace risk aversion as a marketing tactic
In addition to striving for perfection, introverts also tend to be more risk-averse than extroverts. As Quiet Revolution author Susan Cain explains, introverts experience new things more intensely than introverts do. “In introverts, the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls emotions, is more reactive and excitable than in extroverts,” she writes. This means that introverts are more likely to shy away from new, potentially dangerous experiences.
While risk aversion presents a challenge when it comes to sharing music publicly, it can also offer some major benefits. First of all, it means that introverts are less likely to take unnecessary risks – so while an extroverted musician might be more prone to releasing music before it’s ready, introverts are more likely to keep working on their music until they know for sure it’s done.
Being more risk-averse also means being more aware of the potential outcomes of risk-taking. So while extroverts might dive into a risky situation without thinking too deeply about the consequences, introverts will want to explore every possible outcome of an unknown event or activity before they dive in.
As an introvert, then, you may end up taking fewer risks than an extrovert, but when you do take a risk, it will probably lead to a greater reward, as you’ve taken the time to calculate the risk and weigh the danger of that risk against all of its possible outcomes.
See your music as an opportunity for real communication
Most introverts are all too aware of the difficulty that comes with trying to express themselves properly in conversation, or even online through social media. This doesn’t mean, however, that introverts aren’t good at communicating; it just means that introverts tend to listen first and talk later. This leaves many introverts looking for other ways to express themselves, and for those with a creative bent, music can be the perfect medium.
When you’re ready to release your music to the world, don’t worry about how you’re going to tell other people about it; instead, rejoice in the fact that you’re able to honestly express yourself in a way that many others can’t. This is your opportunity to say through your music what you’ve been wanting to say in public or online, but haven’t been able to fully express before.
When it comes to sharing your music publicly as an introverted musician, learning to let go is at least half the battle. What this means, however, is that once you do share something, you can be confident in knowing that it’s something you’re truly proud of. Asking other people to listen to your music, then, will be a much easier task, because you know the music is truly worth listening to.
And while you might still not be comfortable engaging in some of the publicity stunts that more extroverted musicians might undertake when sharing their music, like handing out demos on a street corner or sneaking into a party to talk to a record label executive you’ve never met before, you can be confident that you’ll find other ways to share your music with the world that are more authentic and will ultimately be more successful for you.
- The Introverted Musician's Guide to Performing
- The Introverted Musician's Guide to Self-Promotion
- The Introverted Musician's Guide to Social Media
- 7 Networking Tips for Introverted Musicians
Casey van Wensem is a freelance composer, musician, and writer living in Kelowna, B.C., Canada. You can hear his musical work at birdscompanionmusic.com and read his written work at caseyvanwensemwriting.com.