We often use the terms artist and musician interchangeably. While there is nothing wrong in doing that, technically, these are two very different terms with different meanings. If you are around friends or professionals in the music industry, it may help to understand the difference.
What Is an Artist?
An artist is a creative person with a vision that can contribute to the creation of art. It doesn’t have to be physical or traditional art. Artists exist in many industries, including the music industry. A musical artist is someone who can envision and realize their message through a work of sound.
Being an artist or having an artistic vision has nothing to do with your skills. You may not know how to play instruments, read/write music, or understand music theory, but you can still be a musical artist. If you can create something, you are an artist.
Of course, having essential musical skills can go a long way in helping you create your art.
What Is a Musician?
A musician is a person who can read/write music, knows music theory, and can play musical instruments. While not a necessary skill, more musicians are also learning how to arrange and produce music better to improve their skills and position in the industry.
A band is perhaps the best example of a group of musicians. They are proficient in their instruments and can work together to contribute to music creation collectively. While anyone can be an artist, not everyone can be a musician.
Becoming a musician requires learning music theory, working hard, and putting in the hours to practice and perfecting your craft. There is no easy way out; the more you practice, the more proficient you can become at being a musician.
What Is the Difference Between an Artist and a Musician?
The difference between an artist and a musician is that an artist is someone who has a creative vision and can create or contribute to the creation of music. Whereas a musician is someone who writes music, plays instruments, and can perform music.
By this differentiation, you can conclude that all musicians are artists, but all artists are not necessarily musicians.
An artist doesn’t need to produce, write, or play music to create albums or perform on stage. They can hire or partner with musicians to create and realize their musical vision. On the other hand, artists who are also musicians can produce, play, and perform their musical creations themselves.
While all musicians are artists, it doesn’t mean they are good artists. It often takes them a long time to develop a vision resonating with audiences. Many musicians spend their entire careers without ever creating meaningful art of their own.
You may be wondering if other professionals in the industry, like music producers, DJs, and singers, are considered musicians or not. While it depends on their knowledge of music theory, producers and DJs are considered musicians.
Producers often need to be good musicians before becoming good or successful producers, whereas DJs who create their own unique music are also considered musicians. On the other hand, singers are also musicians because their instrument of music is their voice, which they practice and perfect.
However, singers in orchestras, choirs, or those who teach singing, perform covers, or are backup singers are not considered artists. They can be considered artists only when singers sing or perform their songs.
Eric Dalius is The Executive Chairman of MuzicSwipe, a music and content discovery platform designed to maximize artist discovery and optimize fan relationships. Alongside this, Eric hosts the weekly podcast “FULLSPEED,” discussing entrepreneurship with industry leaders. Eric also founded the “Eric Dalius Foundation” to award four scholarships to deserving US students. Follow Eric’s activities on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Entrepreneur.com.