Whether you’re just starting out making music in your bedroom or a multi-platinum producer, imposter syndrome can affect all of us at some point. The feeling you’re not worthy to compose and release music due to a lack of knowledge, experience, skill and creativity can often feel overwhelming. Technology now makes it possible for anyone to make music of a professional standard. With everyone able to create high-quality music on a level playing field feelings of Imposter syndrome can be commonplace.

In this article, we will be examining this pervasive syndrome. how it can impact musicians and hopefully some useful ideas to help combat it.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome, also known as imposter phenomenon or imposter experience, is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments, skills, or talents. This can result in a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. Despite external evidence of their competence, individuals with imposter syndrome tend to believe that they are undeserving of their success and that their achievements are a result of luck or deception rather than their own abilities.

Imposter Syndrome can affect people from all walks of life, often leading individuals to downplay their achievements instead attributing their successes to external factors. Sufferers constantly compare themselves to others, particularly those they perceive as more capable. This can create feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and self-doubt which may hinder personal, professional and creative growth.

Why imposter syndrome is particularly prevalent among musicians.

image courtesy of Chris Snyder Guitar

In an industry that prides itself on aspiration, achievement and creative excellence, it’s not hard to see why so many musicians suffer from imposter syndrome.

Music, like most art, is highly subjective which can naturally lead to feelings of self-doubt. As there’s no universal standard for what’s “good” or “bad” music, this subjectivity can lead musicians to constantly doubt their artistic choices. This can affect all levels of musicians from relative newbies to major artists. Even Taylor Swift has admitted that she has felt undeserving when collecting awards on stage in front of thousands.

Releasing and performing music is also a deeply personal form of self-expression. Putting your creativity and emotions on display can create feelings of vulnerability and in turn self-doubt. The fear of judgment and rejection can therefore contribute to imposter feelings.

Imposter Syndrome also comes into play If you work in a musical field that requires a level of technical ability and knowledge, i.e. production. You may not feel that you possess enough technical prowess to call yourself a ‘proper’ producer. Sometimes technological advancements can leave artists feeling that they don’t belong in this futuristic new musical landscape.

And then there is social media and how you promote yourself and your music to the public. Seeing polished and highly curated content from peers can contribute to feelings of not measuring up.

These are just a few of the contributing factors that can cause an acute feeling that you are an imposter in the music industry. Fortunately, many of these feelings are baseless, and they can be minimized through fresh thought-processing techniques.

Ways to combat and cope with imposter-type feelings.

The first thing to recognise when approaching the subject of imposter syndrome is that you almost certainly are not a fraudulent imposter in the world of music. Everyone has a fundamental right to create music. If you really were blagging your way into the music business you wouldn’t be concerned about such thoughts in the first place!

So with this in mind let’s look at some positive approaches to the way you view yourself and your place as a musician.


Firstly Acknowledgement: Recognize that imposter syndrome is a common experience for many musicians and creatives. Most musicians have had these thoughts at some point, even those at the top of their game. Acknowledging your feelings can be the first step in overcoming them.

Once you have acknowledged you may have these thought tendencies it’s important to Identify Negative Thought Patterns: Pay attention to the negative self-talk that contributes to imposter syndrome. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself for evidence that supports them and evidence that contradicts them.

Celebrating Your Achievements can provide the necessary evidence to confirm you’re lack of imposter status. Keep a record of your accomplishments, both big and small. When you feel inadequate, review this list to remind yourself of your capabilities and successes.

Set Realistic Expectations: Understand that nobody is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. Even your musical peers will have made music they would rather forget! Striving for excellence is admirable, but expecting perfection is unrealistic and can contribute to feelings of inadequacy. You’re on a musical journey of learning and discovery. Like all important journeys, it will take time before you get to a stage where you’re 100% content with what you are producing.

Accept that luck can play a part. One of the key aspects of imposter syndrome is the idea that it’s just hard work that results in rewards. The fact is in so many situations, especially within music, luck can be a major factor. Being in the right place at the right time is one of the most common routes to success for musicians. if your imposter syndrome manifests itself as a feeling that you’ve just been lucky then accept that luck can and often does play a pivotal role in your musical progression. Embrace your good fortunes and focus on how you made that luck work for you through continued work.

Limit Comparisons with other Musicians: Avoid comparing yourself to others, especially on social media. Realise that most successful musicians will have a team behind them curating perfect flawless versions of their lives and careers. Remember that everyone has their own journey and struggles and your journey is as valid as anyone else’s.

Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: Anxiety caused by imposter syndrome can often be helped through Mindfulness techniques. These techniques can help you stay present, manage anxiety, and reduce negative self-talk. Many famous musicians find meditation invaluable in developing a more balanced perspective on themselves and their accomplishments.

Producer Rick Rubin on the positive impact of meditation in music making.


While it may not be possible to completely stop thoughts of imposter syndrome it can often be managed successfully. Once you accept that this may be a factor in your thought process then taking positive steps to deal with these thoughts can really help you overcome unnecessary mental hurdles. So often as creatives, we put ourselves under tremendous pressure to achieve and conform to the standards of the industry.

I believe it’s important to sometimes step back and consider why you first started making music. Most of us felt a burning need to express our creativity. Music-making can be one of the most enjoyable pursuits there is! Wherever you are on o your music-making journey this should be the core driver. Not outside influences and self-inflicted pressures. Just have fun because YOU ARE a musician and fully deserve to be making and releasing your creations.

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