The Importance of Studying Other Artists (What You Can Learn & Why It Matters)

Every musician must forge their own path when it comes to understanding the business and how one fits into it. However, it can be very useful to study how other artists work, how they achieved success, and most importantly, how they make their art.

Analyzing and learning from other musicians is a vital skill and can undoubtedly serve as a motivation tool. You can learn a great deal just by studying how one of an artist’s songs was made, let alone an entire album.

That being said, how does one analyze and approach other artists’ work and what should be the focus?

  • Song Structure: Many musicians use a common song structure (the typical A, B, A, B pattern, or Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus with a slow fade out), but there are also many who break it, or alter it for a few bars. But how? It all comes down to the chord structure and the use of silence. Some artists also play around with the tempo (the rhythmical aspect of a song).

  • Melodic Aspects: Rhythm alone often cannot completely engage an audience, unless is highly unusual. As most rhythmic schemes operate within common song structures (as the one mentioned above), it is important to examine the role of the melody. Focusing on the melody will guide the listener to a different level of engagement. Try isolating and playing the important riffs or ones you feel you come across frequently. Slowly work your way towards more complex and varied songs.

  • Understand Classical Music: Understanding classical music and how it is structured is like having access to a basic handbook at all times. It is amazing the amount of things most genres have in common with classical music. A working knowledge of classical forms offers a huge bonus in deepening your potential to learn from other artists.

  • Lyrics: When it comes to learning from other artists, seek to not only understand their lyrics but the stories behind them. What fueled an artist to write certain lyrics? When was a song written and how long did it take? Does the subject of the song suddenly change midway through? Did the artist revise a lot? The stories behind any given lyrics are often deeply meaningful (if only to the artist himself) and can help remind you that inspiration and motivation can occur at any moment.


  • Notebook: Always carry a notebook. Wherever you go, there is music—from your headphones to the local jazz café. In your notebook, try analyzing every song you hear in a single day. You can do this once a week or once a month, but sit down and do your best to enjoy the process. Describe each song, its genre and structure, and summarize the lyrics, if any. Write down any terms you may not understand or things you want to look into further.