There are so many fish in the sea, how do I know when I've found the right one? This doesn't just apply to romantic relationships: it can be equally hard to find other musicians who you "click" with. Here's what I've enjoyed the most about some of the great musicians I've had the privilege to work with over the last few years:
1. They are focused on making great music.
Yes, they're fun to hang out with, but they're focused more on making high quality music. If your friendship doesn't have this as a central theme, you've found a great friend, but not a particularly helpful colleague.
2. They listen to you when you play and adapt.
Great musicians don't monologue on their instruments, they carry on a conversation. When you find someone that responds to your playing in an interesting way that inspires you to up your game, you know you've "found the one".
3. They are a ton of fun to be around.
Make sure you like your musical colleagues, since your music will reflect what you're feeling toward each other on a personal level. You're going to be stuck with this person a lot in small spaces (touring or studio work). Trust me, it's miserable to be in close quarters with someone you don't click with for months on end.
4. They hold you accountable when you're not doing great work.
Great musical friends will say in the nicest way possible "that was crap. You're better than that." when you're not bringing your A game. You need people in your life to help you up your skills, and having someone you trust to do this is absolutely vital to your future success.
5. They're honest with you about how they feel.
Great musicians communicate really well, and a big part of that process is being honest about what you're feeling. Surrounding yourself with positive, honest musicians helps encourage openness, and brings out the best in everyone involved.
6. They don't mind suffering a little bit to make great art.
Suffering can include long nights in the studio, driving to an early morning radio gig, low pay for interesting work, etc. You want to work with people that are fiscally smart, but keep the end goal of creating great art as first priority.
7. They get along with your significant other.
Let's face it: if your wife and your music friend fight constantly, it's going to be hard to collaborate. Making sure your music friend gets along with the really important people in your life is vital.