Over the past five years, I’ve actively profiled dozens and passively profiled hundreds of musicians for iNtuitiveMusician.com. In the process, I’ve mined a few insights that I thought were interesting.

Before we begin, there are a couple of things worth keeping in mind. Of course, the types I’ve assigned to the musicians I’ve profiled are only one person’s opinion. There’s no way to know type objectively and definitively.

Also, while I’ve encouraged readers to submit requests and I’ve made a conscious effort to be diverse in the musicians I’ve profiled, it’s impossible to account for my own bias in regards to musical taste. If I were born in a different part of the world or with very different musical taste, then the typological landscape of music would undoubtedly look different to me. I’ve done my best to account for bias, but it’s impossible to be objective. So with those caveats, here’s what I’ve found:

  1. There are relatively few Sensor-Judgers in popular music. While SJs may make up as much as 45% of the general population, it’s clear that that number is much, much smaller amongst popular musicians. My interpretation of this is that ‘career musician’ isn’t a reliable or predictable path and it doesn’t have a strong enough pull for most SJs to compel them to commit. Amongst Sensor-Judger types, ESFJ appears to be the most common, perhaps because they can have a tendency to be drawn to the spotlight and the finer things in life that come with it. Examples include Liberace, Sammy Davis Jr., Barbra Streisand and Selena Gomez.
  2. Few Sensor-Judgers write their own music. Introverted Sensing orients a person to what’s constant and reliable in the world. This creates a relationship to things ‘as they are,’ which is counter to how most creatives tend to experience the world. In my estimation, about 1-5% of the songs performed by famous Sensor-Judger musicians were written by them. A notable exception is ISTJ Alan Jackson who’s written or co-written about half of the songs he’s released.
  3. Fi and Ni primaries seem to be the most likely to become musicians. Though IxFPs and INxJs are not especially common in the general population, they’re fairly common amongst musicians. These types tend to have a lot going on beneath the surface and are often highly motivated to find a creative outlet. These types also tend to write a very high percentage of the music that they perform.
  4. Most songwriters are iNtuitive. Differing from Sensor-Judgers, iNtuitives tend to have a more turbulent experience of the world, naturally juxtaposing information and impressions in a way that lends itself to the creative, artistic process. NF appears to be the most common temperament amongst professional songwriters.
  5. Intuitives appear to make up a greater percentage of musicians than I realized. My hypothesis going in was that iNtuitives make up about 40% of all musicians. Though they only make up an estimated 25-35% of the general population, it appears to me that they may make up as much as 45-50% of musicians.
  6. Thinker and Judger musicians are more likely to be mistaken for Feelers and Perceivers than the other way around. Music tends to draw out people’s emotional, subjective side and can make musicians appear quite different from non-musicians of their type. On top of that, the lifestyle of a touring musician can bring out different traits and give a different impression than those in other fields. For example, the impression of Glenn Frey (ENTJ) of The Eagles performing “Peaceful Easy Feeling” is quite different than the image of the cold, ruthless, calculating Frank Underwood (ENTJ) of “House of Cards.” INTJs, in particular, can be easily mistaken for Feeler-Perceivers. The INTJ stereotype may bring people like Elon Musk or Ayn Rand to mind, but as musicians, INTJs tend to show much more of their right-brained side. For example, it caught me by surprise to find images of an unabashedly flamboyant Brian Eno, an otherwise clear INTJ, in his younger days with Roxy Music. Another example is my friend John Oszajca, who has a very laid-back image, playing lyric-driven rock music influenced by artists like Bob Dylan and Hank Williams. As a particularly talented writer, John shows linguistic abilities that INTJs can have that don’t necessarily fit into the more left-brained, science-minded stereotype.
  7. There appear to be slightly more introverted musicians than extraverted. My interpretation of this is that Introverts are more likely to feel less self-expressed in daily life and turn to outlets like music to meet this need.
  8. There appears to be no correlation between introversion/extraversion and performance ability. One might expect that since Extraverts tend to move more freely in the world and project their energy more openly that they would make for better musical performers. This doesn’t appear to be the case. In fact, many ‘best performer’ lists on sites like Rolling Stone are made up of more than half Introverts and Introvert-fronted bands like Prince, Muse, Jimi Hendrix, Lady Gaga, Radiohead and David Bowie to name a few. While Extraverts may excel in certain realms of performance, such as stage banter and capitalizing on serendipitous moments, Introverts likely feel more comfortable expressing themselves in an environment that they can have some control over and can be motivated to create an environment on stage to let out a side of them that doesn’t get to show itself often.

Questions or comments? Just post them below, and I’ll be happy to respond.


  • Anna
    • Anna
    • May 9, 2019 at 2:43 am

    I would be curious to see a study of classical musicians, which tend to be much more highly specialized, subdividing into performers (these can be further subdivided into repertoire they focus on), composers, conductors, theorists, musicologists, etc. I’m sure that some of those specializations have more SJ types (orchestral musicians) while some are dominated by N types (composers). My close group of composer friends seem to all be NF types with highly developed thinking/analytical abilities because of our training, or possibly NT types much more in touch with feelings as you suggest above. Some composers are very NTJ, preferring highly complex systems in their process and steering clear of any emotional expression of any sort. Performance tends to focus a lot more on precision of execution of music written by others, so would probably appeal to more SJ types, especially in the realm of orchestral performance which is more conservative and highly institutionalized. Performers who focus more on contemporary music might be more intuitive as they like to explore new things and push boundaries.

  • Erika
    • Erika
    • August 25, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Hi Scott! Thank you for your reply, this gives me lots to think about!

  • Scott
    • Scott
    • August 23, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Erika!

    Good question. I would say that there is some correlation. In fact, many virtuosos have Se as their tertiary or even inferior function – particularly NTJs. Yngwie Malmsteen (ENTJ), Steve Vai (ENTJ), Yo Yo Ma (INTJ) and Joe Satriani (INTJ) come to mind.

    I think musical virtuosity has a lot to do with practice and visualization. This differs from fast-paced sports where reaction time is more important. In that arena SPs dominate. When things slow down a bit (ex: Arnold Schwarzenegger [ENTJ] in bodybuilding) or when they flow in a more pre-determined structure (music), you’ll see a more diverse distribution of types.

    There are plenty of virtuosic musicians who don’t have Se in their car though. Neil Peart (INTP), Tosin Abasi (INTP), Paul Gilbert (ENTP) and Flea (ENFP) come to mind. In the case of INFPs in particular, they can be brilliant musicians, but tend to be more invested in creating moods and textures and meaningful communication than the stereotypical pedal-to-the-metal shredding that’s typically associated with virtuosity.

    So I would say that Se types are more likely to feel the ‘need for speed’ and be more driven to shred. INTPs can be driven to virtuosity by an enjoyment of perfection and complexity and Ne primaries by a need to explore new musical frontiers and keep things interesting. In summary, different types will tend to have different desires that will shape how they practice, what they write and what they like to perform. If you’re not compelled to play fast then that’s probably not the kind of musician you’d be happiest being anyway. :)

  • Erika
    • Erika
    • August 22, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Hi Scott
    I listened to the second webinar for profiler training today and immediately went to your website. I was amazed to find that three of the singer/songwriters I resonate with and care about the most (Joni Mitchell, Elliott Smith and Fiona Apple) are INFPs like me! Thank you for what you do, I think it’s great.
    So, I studied jazz piano. While studying, I felt like I was missing a “channel”, or that something was profoundly different between me and a lot of my fellow students. Jazz is a rather competitive style of music, though competitive in a collaborative setting. But it’s important to show your chops, and to create heat and excitement. And I struggled with that. I’ve been wondering if this had to do with Se not being in my function stack. I did end up building some skill in Se, but it always felt like I was being held back in some way.
    I was wondering – do you see a correlation between musicians using Se as either their driver or co-pilot function, and virtuosity?

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