You don’t just need to be better, faster, and stronger to succeed. You need to possess all of those qualities, and still show the world something new.
Whether it be the elegant tweeting of a bird, the machinery clanking away in a factory, or even the rhythm of your food boiling in the pan, inspiration for music is all around us. Wherever you go you will always hear something that you could turn into a beat. How far you let your creative mind wander is your only limitation (which is what I love most about music!). Great musical ideas are not the problem. But getting the beats down and making them sound good through your monitors, now that’s the problem!
No matter how many layers you texture your samples with, adjusting the right plug-in setting, adding parts, rearranging sections …… the list goes on in your struggles to produce that killer track.
WHY CAN I NOT FINISH THIS TUNE!!!
I’ve been in this same situation many times myself and I’ve found many ways to get out of this frustration.
First thing first: STOP!
Stop whatever you are doing right now and take a step back from everything. Sit comfortably in your chair (literally do this now) sit up with a straight spine and close your eyes. Direct your focus towards your breathe making it slow and steady: on the in breathe, direct it through your nose. On your out breathe, through the mouth, mentally say the number 1. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth and count 2. Repeat this process until you get to the number 10 and then slowly open your eyes.
Your experience of life is directly related to where you choose to focus your attention.
What I am going to focus on in this article are two crucial elements that will help you make better music: Finishing your music and Networking. This is aimed at all abilities at creating music and is for anyone who wants to become more successful.
If you have a passion for music then almost the only differences between you and top producers is the time they have spent on making music and the connections they have made along the road. If you have just started making music, unfortunately, your music will not sound as good as your favorite producers. BUT you can get as good as them! The only way you will achieve this and get better at making music …. is actually to finish your tunes.
Any successful producer has made A LOT of music and I mean a hell of a lot of music! The difference between frustration and success is frustrated producers have very little (if any) music to show. Successful producers finish music, and loads of it. Any regular user of soundcloud, beatport, youtube, record label stores, will know the thousands of tunes released each month. To get noticed you must release new material as fast as you possibly can! The more music you make, the faster you will get noticed, the more gigs that you will get.
If your main goal is to complete your tracks and get it out there this will open up a whole new world of help that is not accessible to producers if you do not finish music. If you have a completed tune and upload it online this will link you to one of the most helpful tool of any creative industry: Networking!
If you don’t know something what do you do? You ask someone for help and advice. If you have come to that point in producing your song where no adding, tweaking, removing, layering, will seem to work then another pair of ears is an extremely powerful tool.
Every single human being on this planet is different. You should feel happy with yourself because you are unique, no one is like you! This being said everyone perceives life different so that means when listening to music each listener will have different thoughts and emotions that are expressed. They hear things that you don’t because they are not you. But the biggest reason being is you have spent 4 – 20 hours listening to the similar sounds and beats over and over and over again, your ears will naturally get fatigued.
It’s like when you spend ages on that level on your favorite video game. No matter what angle you go at it you can’t get past the boss at the end. Your big brother walks in the room, picks up the controller, completes it first time. He may mock your skills but if you think of this in terms of that bridge you cannot cross in the song you are working on, you are the one who is the winner: you have saved both time and frustration. You don’t want to get annoyed with a song that could potentially be a banger and you want to save time as you need to finish music and get it out there.
Send your tunes to friends, record labels, teachers, grandparents, soundcloud followers and absolutely anyone who enjoys music! Ask them for feedback, listen to their constructive criticism and use their valuable advise in your next tune. Hopefully you will be starting to understand what I mean about finishing your tracks. The more music you make, the more feedback and advice you will receive, the faster you will start to realize your strong and weak points.
Forget your approach to making music (but completely scrap your approach if you have never actually finished a tune!) and start following these steps when you get stuck in making your song:
- Do you actually want to finish this song? – Not all music you have started will be worth the time and effort to complete. Listen to the song just once and then make that decision. If it is, move onto the next step. If it’s not, save the individual samples and audio you like into your own library for sounds to use in future projects.
- Write down a list of at least 5 clear goals/tasks – Setting yourself clear goals help identify your task so you know exactly what to do, align that task with belief so you know why you are doing it, but the most important piece is how clear goals impact attention. When the brain is charged with a clear goal, focus narrows, the unimportant is disregarded, and the now is all that is left. The emphasis here is on CLEAR before goals. Clarity gives us certainty. We know exactly what to do and we know where to focus our attention while doing it.
- Break your tasks into bite-sized chunks – A producer is better off trying to create the right kick drum, snare and hi hat first, rather than thinking about the whole song in its entirety. Think challenging, yet manageable. Just enough stimulation to keep attention focused, not too much to potentially cause stress and pull you out of the task set in hand.
- Order your tasks – What is your plan of action? Maybe try a different approach to your usual strategy, start with the bassline, the atmospheres or that melody that’s been pumping through your head. Find a way to attack a beat that suits your own personal creative flow. Estimate how long actions will take and stick to a deadline!
- Tighten feedback loops – The smaller the gap between input and output, the more we know about how we are doing and how to do it better. Once you complete one of your tasks make a note of how you progressed in your situation.
- DO IT! – Once completed, upload it to soundcloud, youtube, etc. and get cracking on your next beat!
It is estimated that 90% of success for elite performers is mental. You can literally choose your future right now! There is no binary for making music but if you get into habits and start by following the steps above, I guarantee, If you stick to them, you will see a significant improvement in your musical abilities. Look at making your music with beginners mind. Forget the approach to your work that you have been using and give these steps a try!
With practice and training we can increase our attention, memory, judgement to literally become more intelligent. Knowledge is power. It’s a great feeling to wake up smarter than you were the day before. Stop watching mindless TV, endlessly scrolling through your Facebook news feed, eating junk food. Focus on being balanced, healthy and, ultimately, Happy!
Thank you for reading my article! This is the first in a series of articles on workflow techniques to help you make your music better and faster!
“A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Stay strong and peace to all
About the author: Danny Gibson
Music is my life. Second is my dog. Third is reading and writing. The key to success is all about having the right mindset. In my articles I write I aim to decode the science of ultimate human performance in producing music, but written so everyone can understand. I will also be covering the fundamentals of audio, how to use Logic Pro, and how to use various plug-ins. Sometimes the distance through the impossible is nothing at all. Please email me for feedback on my articles or advice for your own struggles: firstname.lastname@example.org