Some mindset shifts really helped my music career, and here are a few that were really important along my journey that could help you as well
4 THOUGHTS FROM ME
1. Don’t think that every song/track you make needs to be the next #1 hit. Instead, your next song has to be better than your previous one, and that’s it, which was something that was mentioned by Yotto, Anjunadeep artist and owner of Odd One Out, in a recent post. This essentially will shift your perspective from external goals (signing your song, booking a gig, getting millions of plays) to internal goals, i.e. goals that you control and that depend 100% on you. Why? Because when you have a goal that depends on others, it can lead you to frustration and resentment if you don’t get it because you feel powerless, and there’s nothing you can do about it since you don’t control it. When you stop thinking about ‘making a hit’ or ‘signing a track’ and transform it into ‘I need to better song than before’, it can push you to develop yourself and fix issues that you have, and that’s what will make you grow. In addition, it takes the pressure away from needing all the songs to get signed, and that’s what often takes producers’ motivation away. In addition, this lack of pressure is what will push you to experiment and test out new elements in your songs, which is what can make you stand out. From my personal experience, the moment that I stopped caring about results and labels, music became much more fun, and my results started to get better because I felt freer to produce, freer to ‘experiment’ and to fail, which is liberating and made me make better tracks. Therefore, stop thinking about results and focus on yourself… Focus on having fun and learning with your music, and that’s what will eventually make you produce a hit!
2. Don’t lock yourself in only one genre to avoid burning out. Often I see producers creating just one genre, and they focus solely on this one genre to the point that they get bored and start feeling uninspired about music, that happens because you’re essentially locking your mind into only one thing. Imagine just eating chocolate ice cream, every day, every time, and I’m sure you’ll eventually start resenting it as well. When you open yourself to new genres, you’ll be able to explore new techniques because different genres require different skills that you could miss out on if you only produce one genre. For example, doing a club song requires a different set of elements, intentions, aggression, sound design, and mixing than doing a chill song. But, even if you want to only make chill songs, learning these new ways of producing can add ‘guns to your arsenal’, and incorporating them into your chill songs is what can eventually make your songs unique. This kind of learning and experimentation is what makes you not get bored with your music, and also keep on having fun with it, which are crucial to avoid burnout. Therefore, pick a second genre that you love and make a track on it. If you always make club songs, make a more radio/Spotify-focused kind of song, and vice-versa. If you always make melodic songs, make a more aggressive techno song. Remember, focus on changing the vibe and learning new skills!
3. Focus on the ‘Less is More’ mentality when producing music. When I started producing, I thought I needed to have all the plugins available in the market just because I saw someone using that one plugin in a tutorial. The same happened with Sample Packs and Preset packs, and this mentality translated into my songs. Because I had all that much stuff, I was often paralyzed with what to use or I was layering the hell out of everything, sometimes unnecessarily. For example, I had 100 go-to kick samples. Haha, ONE HUNDRED. Now, I use 5 kicks in all my songs, and I don’t even think about that. Do you relate to this? If so, consider the following, in no particular order: (1) Limit yourself to one preset pack/sample pack, or one synth for a given song and this will help speed up your workflow by not overthinking what to use; (2) Limit the amount of layering you’re doing for a particular sound to 3-4 channels max for the main elements only and this will help you choose better sounds from the beginning, and not trying to fix what sounds bad/weak; (3) Focus on one idea per song and this will avoid making your song too complicated and hard to follow. In other words, if you have more than one lead melody and one counter melody, consider chopping some off; (4) Only add a plugin if increments your song significantly and this will save you some CPU and also will make your project cleaner, which can be helpful to avoid overthinking stuff. Essentially, the more you limit yourself, the more you’ll be able to master what you have and find/do things faster without overthinking what you have, which will make you finish more songs!
4. Don’t spend more time reading “tips”/watching tutorials on music production than on actually producing music. Producers often spend too much time watching tutorials, which is time that they could spend making music and developing their skills. I’ve watched a LOT of tutorials, especially production walkthroughs, which tend to be really long, but also really helpful, so I had to change a few things to produce more than what I watched tutorials, but also taking advantage of these tutorials as they help a lot. (1) Spend at least 70% of your tutorial/production time on producing music, and the rest on learning skills on tutorials. (2) Make notes on the tutorials you get and highlight at least one new, cool thing to try later per tutorial. Then, you’ll create a list of all the highlighted tips and you’ll have a list of stuff to try if you run out of experimentation ideas. (3) Create different kinds of lists for your ‘watch later tutorials’ and classify them as: (a) ‘In the DAW’ tutorials, when you’ll need to be in the DAW; (b) ‘On The Go’ Tutorials, which is stuff that you can watch anywhere, but still require attention; (c) ‘Passive listening’, which are tutorials to listen at work or while you network just waiting for cool tips to shine, then you stop and bookmark the times or the tip; (d) ‘Unispired How to’, which are tutorials that don’t require inspiration, like sound design tutorials, which you can do anywhere, even if uninspired; (4) Create an ‘Inspiration List’ if any video inspires you to produce music. These videos will be useful to inspire you when you’re not feeling it and having a list makes it easier to recall them. But, remember, tutorials feed your music production, and you won’t develop if you don’t put what you learn to practice, so produce more than what you watch!
1 QUESTION FOR YOU
What other mindset shifts could be helpful to you?
1. Do more than only produce music: When you only produce music, 7/8 hours per day, it’s almost the same as the chocolate ice cream idea on tip #2. You’re just feeding your brain with one thing, and that can easily lead you to burnout. Remember that being an artist is more than just producing, so consider doing some networking, or even thinking about how to promote your tracks.
2. Take rejection as a positive thing: Try to understand the good side of being rejected or getting bad feedback. When/if it happens, look for ways to improve, and not for ways to put you down, which is what we normally fall back to.
3. Optimize your time schedule to when you’re more productive in the day: Shift your time schedule to produce when you feel the most energetic and things are calm at your place (before everyone wakes up), and not only when things are quiet at home (Late nights). But also don’t forget that sleeping less makes you less creative, so you need to shift your whole time schedule.