As producers, we often flood ourselves with things we need to do to develop, but we often forget the things we have to avoid doing that could halt our productivity, motivation, and creativity. Therefore, here are a couple of things I’d recommend you stop doing right now, regardless of where you are in your career…
4 THOUGHTS FROM ME
1. Stop comparing yourself to other producers. I’m the number 1 person to recommend you to reference other songs, but I’m 100% against comparing your achievements to other producers’ because it won’t help you in anything. In fact, it can actually just make you feel bad because you’ll likely come up with conclusions that could frustrate you and/or take your motivation away. First of all, even if you’ve been producing for the same amount as a friend of yours, it doesn’t mean that you’re both putting in the same amount of hours and, even if you are, it doesn’t mean that you’re working as smart as your friend is. That’s the first reason why you should not compare yourself to others as it’s likely you have different realities than your friend to whom you’re comparing yourself. It’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges, and this can lead you to think that you’re too slow or that he/she’s better than you, and that might break your motivation to produce. Therefore, before taking any conclusion, ask your friend what did he do to get ahead of you. Learn what worked for him/her and, instead of comparing, analyze what you implement from him/her to your workflow to develop yourself. Sometimes you’ll discover he is putting in more time than you, or even spending the time in a better way, like hiring a coach, but it will show you what worked for him and this is something you can learn a lot from. Another cool way of discovering all this is asking him/her for a collab since is a great way to understand how and how fast he/she works, and then you apply what you liked to your workflow.
2. Stop complaining the industry is unfair or it’s hard to break through. Yes, the music industry is a pretty hard industry to break through, but never stopped any of the current stars of the industry from working on their goals. First of all, when you’re trying to be in the business of commercially releasing music and get lots of plays on Spotify, you will have to face the ‘tasks’ that come with this industry, and complaining won’t help you one bit with it. Instead, learn to play the game and take action. Don’t want to deal with Spotify Curators and Submithub? Send your music to labels that normally have a crazy amount of plays and they will do this job for you; Not being able to sign to your ideal label? Try to do a collab with someone who’s already in the label you desire to sign with (that’s how I got in Armada, for example); Not good at networking with labels? Hire someone with expertise who can help you with that. Most importantly, if you’re always complaining about it, you’ll end up developing a bitterness towards the industry that could suck up the fun of making music, and that eventually can kill your motivation to make music. Instead, understand the motivations of Spotify, Spotify Curators, and Labels, and how can you go around them, or, if that’s something you don’t like doing, hire someone to do it. Taking action instead of complaining is what will (1) turn you into a good producer; (2) meet people who will help you grow and (3) develop yourself as an artist.
3. Stop blaming ‘Writer’s Block’ if you’re not being able to come up with new ideas. Writer’s block happens when we don’t write melodies we feel are amazing for a long period of time, and that frustrates us because we know we can do it, so we pressure ourselves to write more melodies, and when that doesn’t happen we get even more frustrated and just stop trying. However, the first thing you need to do to get back on your feet is to allow yourself to sound bad for a while. When you put too much pressure on making something unique, it can lead you to a halt because why try if nothing good is coming out, right? However, trying is what eventually will get you out of it. But, how? Well, here’s what I recommend you to do first: (1) Go listen to different kinds of music as it can open up your mind and creativity; (2) Go do something else… that’s the perfect time to watch tutorials, learn new techniques, organize your library… stuff that doesn’t require you to be creative and that can make you faster when you’re feeling it. When you’re feeling a bit better about music, then (3) sit down to create 30 (yes, thirty) 4-bar loops with only a synth or a piano. Don’t develop the song! Just write 4 bars and it doesn’t matter if it sounds good or bad, if you copy someone or not… the idea is to get your creative juices flowing again, so anything works. Essentially, by doing this you’ll lower the ‘necessity’ of only writing something amazing, and, at the same time, that’s how amazing ideas actually flourish. Another way to get yourself going is collaborating with someone as then the other person can write for you, and you can get your motivation about music back to then start creating again.
4. Stop taking months to finish one song. Working on a project for several months and not finishing is one of the worst things any producer can do. Why? First, Because you’re likely overthinking it or trying to make the perfect song so you keep tweaking it, and sometimes that can suck all the fun from the project and from music, leaving you frustrated with an unfinished project. Second, assuming that you learn something new with every new song, if you’re stuck on one song, you might not be enhancing your skills as fast as you can compared to if you were starting and finishing one track per month. To avoid this, start putting deadlines on your song. For example, if you’re not finished with the song by the end of (put a doable period here that fits your schedule), you’ll move on to the next song. This can help avoid overthinking the project because you have a deadline to follow, whether you like it or not. “Leo but I can’t put deadlines on my own songs”. Then, work on remix competitions as they have hard deadlines that you can’t change. Second, hire an engineer or mentor to help you finish your track as they can help you move on with things that are getting you stuck, and that might speed you up and prevent you from getting stuck again. Third, change your digital and physical environment to prevent distractions as they can halt your progress, and that could mean uninstalling games or also producing when nobody is awake (early mornings or late nights). Fourth, if you’re not sure what to do next, don’t do anything. Instead, ask for feedback and that might get you an idea of where you are. Lastly, just finish it, or move on. There’s no shame in not completing a project, or completing one that sounds bad as long as you’ve learned something with it. However, remember that the more you finish songs, the more you’ll likely learn and the higher your chances of making an amazing song along the way will be.
1 QUESTION FOR YOU
What other habits should you stop doing?
1. You should focus on finishing music more than starting newer ones: A lot of producers have a thousand projects in the making and simply don’t finish them because they distract themselves with another project. The more you do this, the harder it will be to actually finish and release a song, and fans don’t listen to unfinished music
2. Waiting for the right moment to release your first song: There’s no right moment to release your first song. Your current song will be worse than your next one, and so on, so once you feel people are generally liking your songs in feedback sessions, it’s time to start sending them to labels.
3. Being stubborn about feedback: I’ve seen a lot of producers avoid taking feedback from people in the industry because the person who gave ‘feedback’ didn’t understand their vision. However, regardless of the vision, especially when the feedback is about the quality of the song, being stubborn won’t help you a bit. The least you need to do is investigate whether what he/she said about your song is true with other people.
4. Only releasing with one dream label: Sometimes your music is not for the label you’re looking for, and obsession with this label might halt you from ever releasing and building a portfolio. In addition, if you get rejected multiple times by that label, it can end up hurting your motivation and will to produce.