October 26

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome as an Artist


In this week’s episode, we’re talking about a very common issue among music producers and DJs. Overcoming impostor syndrome as an artist can be a life-long battle and I’m here to help you deal with it. You’re going to learn what impostor syndrome is, why it‘s especially problematic for musicians and artists, and what you can do about it.

What is impostor syndrome?

Have you ever felt like a fraud, doubting that you deserve to be successful? Do you sometimes fear that others might find out that you’re just a big impostor? What if you aren’t all that talented and hard-working, maybe you just got lucky?

If any of this sounds familiar, you might be battling an issue that is very common among musicians but also many other types of artists: Impostor syndrome. But what does that term really mean? Here’s a definition that hits the nail on the head:

“This psychological phenomenon, known as imposter syndrome, reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.”

– themuse.com

Impostor syndrome is more than just a lack of confidence. You’re truly doubting to deserve your success, even if there’s more than enough evidence that proves the opposite. In consequence, this means that overcoming impostor syndrome is a bit more tricky than just battling with “normal” confidence issues.

Why is it such a common problem among artists?

Impostor syndrome can be found in almost every area of life and all across society. But it’s especially tricky for music producers, DJs, and other creatives. Dr. Valerie Young, an expert in the field says this:

“The nature of creative work makes everyone more vulnerable to feeling inadequate and even more so if you are not classically trained.” – Dr. Valerie Young on creativebloq.com

Well, I assume that only a very small percentage of electronic music producers qualify as “classically trained” in the field. This statement reflects what I’m hearing every single week from my coaching clients. Many of them are insecure about their decisions because they feel that they haven’t earned the right to go with their gut feeling. But that’s really important in music production, you need to trust your ears and taste to make decisions quickly and intuitively. 

So in essence, overcoming impostor syndrome as an artist is a crucial step towards a healthy mindset that supports your ambitions rather than sabotaging them.

3 steps to deal with impostor syndrome as an artist

Now that you know what impostor syndrome is and why it’s especially problematic for artists, it’s time to talk about how to deal with it. I’m going to share with you three steps that I believe make a big difference. Keep in mind that impostor syndrome is something pretty powerful and many artists are fighting a life-long battle. 

1. Share your struggle with other artists

We don’t talk about stuff like this in the electronic music community. And that’s a big problem. Overcoming impostor syndrome as an artist is only possible if you’re ready to open up and share your feelings with other creatives. I promise you, they will most likely feel the same way.

There are many advantages that come with speaking about impostor syndrome with other artists. First of all, it helps take off some of the pressure. Imagine how great it would feel to hear from someone just like you that they’re fighting the same battle as you. By the way, there’s a bunch of many like-minded music producers in our private facebook community, so come over and say hello. 

Moreover, getting someone’s objective opinion helps you readjust your perspective. If you suffer from impostor syndrome, you’re likely to have a very skewed view on your achievements. Other music producers can help you see clearly again. 

Mastermind groups are a blessing

There’s one thing I’ve found to be very effective when it comes to battling impostor syndrome as an artist: Mastermind groups. The term might sound a bit strange but what it essentially means is: You meet up regularly with a group of people that are doing what you do and are more or less at your level of competence. It’s a bit like a self-help group, in the most positive way. You encourage each other, share your struggles, and work at becoming the best version of yourselves.

One thing is really important here: The people in your mastermind group need to have a “growth-mindset and must be genuinely interested in seeing you succeed.

2. Start a daily success journal

Overcoming impostor syndrome as an artist becomes much easier if you start celebrating the small and big wins every day. If you keep a daily “success journal”, you will notice more and more that you truly deserve to have success. 

Ultimately, this helps you separate feelings from facts. You start to see daily evidence for the work you’ve put in and the rewards you gain from it. This exercise also helps you practice kindness towards yourself, which is an important step in the process. 

Even something simple like tracking your positive habits is a win that should end up in your success journal. From time to time, you can also put bigger achievements on your list, like having done research to find the right label(and then eventually landing a release). 

Failure is a natural ingredient of growth

Impostor syndrome expert Dr. Valerie Young mentions the importance of developing a “new response to failure and mistake making”. Part of this is to accept that failure (and learning from it) is essential to growth. It no wonder that people who struggle with perfectionism also suffer from impostor syndrome.

3. Learn to accept compliments

Most people can’t say “thank you” when they receive a compliment. Even if it’s clearly an honest one. Instead, we look for excuses and say stupid things like “well I guess I was lucky in that regard.”

If you want to overcome impostor syndrome as an artist, you need to build that mental muscle of “I truly deserve this”. Accepting compliments is one of the easiest exercises you can do. 

Own your accomplishments

Being proud of your what you’ve achieved can be more difficult than you think. We often ascribe our success to “luck” or “help from others” rather than talent or practice. If you want to combat impostor syndrome as an artist, you need to own your accomplishments and accept the fact that you’ve truly earned your successes.

Conclusion: It’s an important mindset shift

Overcoming impostor syndrome as an artist is one of the most important mindset shifts you need to adopt to take your music-career to the next level. Not only will it help you unlock your true potential, it also liberates you from these nagging thoughts in the back of your head.

Believe me, you’re most likely not a fraud. Instead, you deserve to be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how small or big they are right now. Building a meaningful artist career is a long process and only those who dare to adopt the right mindset will succeed in the long run.

If you set realistic goals, implement the right work ethic, and collaborate with the right people in the scene, you’re going to achieve a lot. Not because you were lucky, but because you’ve implemented the necessary steps. 

Putting it into action: How to deal with impostor syndrome as an artist

Now that you have a pretty good idea of how you can overcome impostor syndrome as a music producer or DJ, let me give you some action steps that you can implement right away. 

1. Acknowledge that this issue is very common among creative people

  • It helps a lot to know that you’re not alone with these thoughts. Most of your artist peers suffer from the same feeling and it’s time to start talking about this more than ever before.
  • Even some of the most successful music producers and DJs suffer from impostor syndrome. Taking this issue seriously is the first step to an important mindset shift in your music career.

2. Start to observe your own thought patterns

  • Try to listen to your negative self-talk, then take a step back and observe it. Does it remind you of the things I’ve described in this episode? How realistic are these thoughts? Are you really kind enough with yourself?
  • When in doubt, talk to someone you trust and who knows you well. This person will most likely be able to put you back on track and tell you that you deserve to be proud of yourself.

3. Start to react differently

  • As soon as you start to become aware of impostor syndrome, you have the chance to react differently. Instead of continuing with negative self-talk, you can now look for evidence that you deserve to be successful.
  • If you follow my suggestion and keep a daily success journal, you will have more than enough proof of what you’ve put into your artist-career. This can help massively if you need to regain clarity.

Alright, that’s it for this week’s episode. Now I’m super curious to hear from you: Do you sometimes have these thoughts? What has helped you so far?

Let me know in the comments, I read everything.


Personal Development, Podcast

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