Artist Rules courtesy of Bob Lefsetz

July 28th, 2015 by

Originally published by Bob Lefsetz here, reprinted with permission.

Artist Rules

1. Inspiration trumps execution.

Write a great song, it’s more important than knowing how to play it.

2. Audience is everything.

If you don’t want to reach as many people as possible, stop now. You’re too afraid to make it, you’re not a real artist. Artists believe in themselves and want to share their work, they believe it will change the world. You can only do this by having an audience, hopefully a large one.

3. Artists never stop learning.

Once you stop testing limits, once you revert to formula, your death warrant is signed.

4. Real artists ship.

If you’re trying to get it perfect, you’re on the wrong path. Life is imperfect, your goal is to reflect it. People relate to that which has rough edges, just like them.

Rule Maker or Rule Breaker Tick Boxes

5. Artists are insecure.

If you think you know everything and have all the answers you’re not an artist. An artist lives for feedback, and decodes and deciphers it to see if he’s on the right track. You don’t have to abide by criticism, but to avoid it is a mistake.

6. Artists want to get paid but are willing to leave money on the table.

Your goal is to get it right, your vision down. Sometimes this means you get paid less, or not at all. But if you don’t know your worth, no one else will.

7. True artists are humble.

They realize they’re part of a great continuum, inspired by the past and grease for the future. No one is forever, never forget that.

8. Artists are jealous, but the best channel that jealousy into their work.

It’s tough to see someone get more acclaim and make more money. But rather than be sour grapes, be inspired. No one likes someone who bitches, someone who complains someone stole their opportunity.

9. Risk.

You know when you do your best work. But take chances, you never know what will resonate with listeners. You’ve been doing it so long that you’re never going to do something bad, let the audience decide what is good.

10. Don’t try to be something you’re not.

Just because country is hot, that does not mean you should cut a record with a banjo. Just because TV delivers eyeballs, that does not mean you should be a judge. Do what you do, it’s your only chance of lasting success.


Have any rules of your own? Post them in the comments.


  1. Posted July 28, 2015 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Nice set of commandments for artists. Numbers 3 and 9 resonate with me most.

  2. Mary Guthrie
    Posted August 20, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Just Rember this if you want to stay in the game

    When you make it to fame don’t stop careing or act like your better than everyone else. If you stay kind humble and never lose site of who you are and how you get there

  3. Allison
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you… not the stress in you.

  4. Allison
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    You are not what happened to you… you are who you choose to become.

  5. Allison
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Never let your fear decide your future.

  6. Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    “Real Artists Ship!” This is my new mantra. I recently wrote a song titled “Work In Progress” – because I know that everything can always be better, but that’s not gonna stop me from getting my message out NOW. Have a listen via the link.

  7. Botlhale matsane
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    In need of a studio

    • MG Staff
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:15 am | Permalink

      Check out studios locally to you!

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