Recognizing Narcissistic Traits In Musicians

If you are interested in identifying traits and suspecting narcissistic characteristics in someone in your band or that you are interested in, you are at the right place.

In this article, I will share my personal experience and expertise on how to recognise specific traits that could give you the warning signs and solutions that you are looking for to deal with one of the most challenging personality disorders to handle.

I would like to clearly state that I am no psychologist, but a pedagogal expert and coach. This article is written from my own experience and what has worked for me. I will always recommend professional help if you feel that you are in a dangerous situation.

Taking a Look In The Mirror

I’ve spent a lot of time with various narcissistic musicians where I’ve experienced the positive and negative sides of their unique personalities.

But the best thing that could have happened to me was actually realising that I also have some narcissistic traits.

After doing plenty of self-reflection and introspective studying over a few years, I was able to identify the different traits. I am also able to see which of them are strengths and which are weaknesses or hurtful characteristics towards others.

Going through this process with my inner circle allowed me to support and advise other narcissists or individuals with narcissistic traits. At the same time, I continue to learn and identify when my own traits are appearing and still distinguish between what is normal behaviour and what could be hurtful or cause damage to others.

Not all narcissists have bad intentions. They only need to be understood and showered with love and understanding.

Me rocking it out on a festival stage

9 Key Traits to Recognise a Narcissist

According to Karyl McBride, PhD, these are the 9 traits of a narcissistic personality:

  1. They have a massive sense of self-importance
    • This includes over-exaggeration of achievements
    • Expecting to be recognised as a superior.
  2. They are preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success.
    • or beauty or brilliance
  3. They believe that they are special and unique and can only be understood by high-status people.
  4. They require excessive admiration
  5. They have a sense of entitlement
    • like they often have an unreasonable expectation of favourable treatment.
  6. They take advantage of others to achieve their own goals.
  7. They lack empathy
    • It’s hard for them to recognise or identify with the feelings or needs of others.
  8. Envy is a clear
    • They are envious of others
    • or believe that others are envious of them
  9. They present an arrogant attitude

When you read through these personality elements, it is hard for ambitious and goal-driven people not to find themselves with at least one or more of these traits.

Even if you are humble and grateful, you still need a fighting spirit and plenty of self-belief to succeed in the music industry. So it’s highly likely that all musicians have some of the elements of narcissistic personality traits.

I have to add that I condemn any manipulative and toxic behaviour towards others in order to reach your goals. I will continue to guide people to do the right thing and treat people with respect.

What are the Good Traits of a Narcissistic Musician?

Even if it might sound a little strange, narcissists have plenty of valuable traits to become the perfect musician.

Some of them are:

  • Their sense of never giving up
    • Narcissist fights for what they want and won’t give up until they reach their goals.
    • When they reach these goals, they set new, and higher goals to achieve.
  • They work extremely hard for what they want
    • They will get up and get the job done
    • They will practice continuously on their previous mistakes
  • When they have a proper support base, they have excellent stage personalities.
    • They can make an audience feel engaged, loved and welcome.
  • They are community builders and therefore easily create a following.
    • And this following will rise exponentially.
    • The following would also be a part of their motivation to perform and improve.
  • They have solid self-confidence and believe in themselves.
    • They only struggle with slight self-doubt when their inner circle fades or is absent.
  • When they are in a good mood, they are exceptional people to deal with.
    • Positivity and optimism will stream from them
    • They will work to serve their following (which they will provide the ego boost they need in return).
  • They have the ability to lighten up a room when they enter.
    • Often felt someone’s presence when they entered a room without seeing the person?
    • People love being around such people who bring a positive spirit and an enriched environment to them.
  • They are extremely loyal to the ones that provide them the love and appreciation.
    • Narcissist feeds off of the love and support.
  • They are resourceful people
    • They normally have a long list of friends and contacts to support them and stand in for various tasks.
  • They have the need to impress.
  • They are experts on accuracy and precision which is needed for a high standard of live performances.

As you see, there are good traits of narcissism that offer great advantages to becoming successful in the music industry.

What are the Bad Traits of a Narcissistic Musician?

These are red flags for people to look out for or to recognise in their own behaviour. Check how many of these do you recognise:

  • They struggle to balance their work life.
    • The inner circle might often feel neglected.
    • This is a cause of conflict since the narcissist wouldn’t understand the lack of support for the greater good or their idea of the greater good.
  • They often manipulate their narrative to get what they want.
  • When upset, they need time to get over a certain situation which often leads to bad vibes in the band and on stage.
  • It’s never their fault.
    • Bending the truth so you end up feeling guilty is a realistic expectation.
  • Band members will often feel like they are not good enough.
  • They can get jealous or envious of bandmates.
    • Especially if they are not the centre of attention anymore.
    • If bandmates start receiving positive feedback instead.
  • They will only do things for others where there’s an audience and the deed is visible for all to experience.
  • They want to control the choices and decisions made by the band.
  • They will often play the victim when something goes wrong.

This post was written and posted by De Wet from on 22.10.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.

A musician recording vocals and guitar (Photo credit: Canva)

Do all Musicians Have Narcissistic Traits?

In my opinion, we all have some level of narcissistic traits. The average human personality would test normal to high for their social behaviour and conflict-solving abilities, and the people we’ll classify as being full-on narcissists would be testing extremely low for their social and conflict-solving skills.

That being said; being successful in the music industry needs a fighter attitude, plenty of confidence, and focussed on the finest detail. This often leads that self-centred and high-ego musicians finding their way faster to the top in comparison to the self-doubting, patient and cooperative type.

Having a confident and cooperative spirit, and applying the positive traits in your practice in a helpful and unhurtful way can be very productive in the music industry.

We often deal with strong narcissistic performers who use their manipulative ability to reach their goals.

We strongly condemn this type of behaviour and once managers and labels recognise the negative behaviour in their bands and artists, they distance themselves from them and even cancel the contract.

Keep being reflective and open with people. Communicate openly, and talk about the white elephant in the room when it needs to be addressed. That makes you a leader.

Tips for Dating a Narcissistic Musician

If you are dating a narcissistic musician and you are currently feeling trapped and have nowhere to go, here are some ideas to try out.

This is a very delicate and sensitive business, so always find the professional help and support that you need.

  • At the top of my list is to study the personality disorder Narcissism.
    • By understanding their needs, moods, and thinking patterns will give you the power to prevent and understand certain behaviours.
  • Allow them to dream big and be the centre of attention.
    • support from the inner circle is critical for success.
  • Make it clear that you also have interests, friends and hobbies that should be respected and balanced with your relationship.
  • Be sensitive to manipulative arguments and treat them with unconditional love, pointing out the twisted truth, so that they still feel loved and accepted.
  • Understand that the personality disorder comes from childhood and that they can’t help reacting or behaving a certain way.
  • Write things down.
    • With every encounter when things are being said, make a note with the details. This will provide a foothold for you when the truth is twisted or when you feel manipulated.
  • Support, support, support
    • They need love, freedom and support.
  • Realise that you will be second fiddle
    • Narcissists need to feel like their interests and hobbies get the main attention.
    • If you don’t like playing second fiddle, perhaps you should move on.
  • You should have your own friends and support base
    • Giving it all up is not worth it and when this is expected, move on.

It is truly a tough business and you will get to know the character you are dealing with in time. Just make sure that it’s not too late. It’s often more worth it to move on when you feel that there are just too many red flags.

A self-centred guitarist (photo credit: Canva)

How To Treat a Hurt Narcissist

This has helped me and others succeed with those long phases of conflict and extended periods of silent treatment. It is also how I treat them and how I want to be treated.

Step 1: Recognising the Moment

A normal person wouldn’t usually realise that the narcissistic person of interest is hurt immediately. Only the inner circle will recognise something isn’t as it should be or the discussed topic is dangerous ground.

There will be some silent treatment. This is a reflective period for a narcissist where they extract themselves from the group, often feeling sorry for themselves.

Step 2: Showing Empathy

We all need love. Love solves all problems. For a narcissist to be embraced with love and empathy is often all they need to feel understood.

You will often need to do a bit of explaining so that the topic of conflict can be set into perspective. It should fit like a puzzle so that the hard feelings can be cleared up.

But what if it’s not that simple?

If the situation of conflict is bigger than a misunderstanding, it’s a good idea to give some time before approaching the situation again. This can be a pretty tough period, especially for people who need to work with the person of interest.

To prevent grudges from happening, revisit the situation after a few days and talk about it. Openness and understanding from both parties are incredibly important.

You should remember that putting anything else than the narcissist at the centre of attention will be a recipe for failure.

Make sure that your person of interest feels loved and heard. During the conflict periods, they don’t have the ability to share the situation value with anyone else other than they are the ones being harmed.

Step 3: Creating Peace and Learning From It

Make sure you can reintroduce the solutions to the conflict with the rest of the group so that there is a mutual understanding about the borders that should not be crossed.

Learn from the situation so that a similar situation can be prevented.

Final Thoughts

There are a tremendous amount of advantages to having a narcissist in your team. They are fighters and hard workers, but recognising their traits and understanding how they work will be the recipe for your success.

They thrive on being self-centred and can take over a workload to make themselves shine and pick the reward of their own creation, which is pretty normal for all of us.

The best thing for me was knowing how strong my narcissistic traits are. I see them and recognise them in all my actions, the good ones and the bad ones.

By knowing that I have these abilities, I can now use them to the benefit of my team and extract hurtful behaviour. I also use the strengths of narcissists in my team to take us forward and advise them during difficult phases.

I realised that being the connection between narcissists and non-narcissists helps everyone get along and it gives my team security and stability knowing they they are loved and appreciated as they are.

We need each other. We are all unique. We all have our differences. You are important.

Make a difference today.

Until next time, Rock ‘n Roll!

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De Wet

The dream started during a school tour at the age of 15 years old. One that might take a long time to reach. De Wet was 16 years old when he got his first bass guitar as a gift from his dad. The guitar was found, hidden under boxes. As if it was waiting for its owner to come by and pick him up. He practiced every day to improve and to teach his fingers to dance to the music. After finishing high school, he played in various bands where he collected valuable experience, before being signed by a record label as an upcoming band. He reached success at age 22 when he released two albums with his band, which also included televised music videos for publicity. By age 24, he co-started management, artist promotion, and booking agency for successful and upcoming musical acts.

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