Over 13 years, I’ve made a few mistakes that I wished someone had told me not to. Therefore, here are the top 5 mistakes I made as a producer that you can avoid to make your life as a producer easier, faster, and more enjoyable.
5 THOUGHTS FROM ME
1. Stop being obsessed with sounding perfect all the time. Especially when you’re learning, your ability to make, in your DAW, what you listen to in your mind has a gap, and you will overcome that gap with practice, frustrations, and development. However, when you focus on sounding perfect right from the beginning, it’s like trying to run a marathon and break the world record on your first try. You already have a pretty big task at hand, which is learning music production, so focus on developing your skills with every song, and not on just making one song perfect. At first, your goal should not be to release tracks, but to develop yourself, make good tracks, and make a better song than what you did last time. Most importantly, when you try to sound perfect, you don’t try new things, and that’s the main recipe for sounding generic. Lastly, when you try to sound perfect, you don’t finish and you don’t move on, and that doesn’t help you in any way. Therefore, develop your songs until the point you can take them, listen to them, and write down what you could have done better in future songs. Don’t let the ‘fear of not making something perfect’ stop you from even starting to produce. This happens to many, and this can halt your development and put too much pressure on your music, which will suck all the fun from it.
2. Don’t put your happiness in someone else’s hands. During my 13 years in the music industry, all the times that I put my happiness in someone else’s hands, I ended up frustrated. For example, when you base your happiness on signing to a label, or doing a collab with a dream artist, or achieving millions of plays with a song, you’re setting yourself up for frustration because it doesn’t depend on things you control. Instead, focus on doing the best song you possibly can, on having fun and learning while you’re producing, and on things that you can control. Why? Because you can always develop your skills, but you can’t control if an A&R will like your song. You can always make better tracks, but you can’t control if Spotify’s algorithm will pick it up for you to have millions of plays. Don’t get me wrong, you can have goals to sign your tracks to labels or get a million plays, but you can’t put expectations on actions that you don’t control, or you will possibly get frustrated. Therefore, when making your goals, make sure to write down goals that depend on yourself, and not on someone else, or you’re likely setting up yourself for frustration.
3. Stop focusing on just one track. When you focus on only one song at a time, you tend to put too much pressure on it because… what if it fails? What if you get bored of it? When you work on multiple songs at a time, not only will the other tracks help you take your mind away from a song you’re bored with by just working on something else, but it also makes it easier to trash your songs when you’re just not feeling them. In addition, assuming you’re learning something new with every song, when you work on multiple tracks, you can learn something from one track that you can apply to another one. For example, I recently did my first breaks track, and that made me change another song that I was bored with to a breaks track as well and now I’m in love with it again. Not only this, but even if I was still bored with that second song, I still have another 4 tracks to work on, so moving on from it and refocusing your energy to the other songs is A LOT easier when you have other ones to replace that gap. Maybe working on multiple tracks is not for you, but if you have never tried it before, consider having up to 3 projects at a time to work on.
4. Don’t depend on record labels to promote your songs. When you depend on record labels to promote your track, you’re putting your success in someone else’s hands, and this is never a good thing for you. Make sure to build your promo list for sending your song to DJs directly; Build your playlist promo list for Spotify Playlists and nurture these contacts as they are the ones that will help your song to grow. Anything that you see labels doing with your songs when you release is something you should do yourself as well as this will give you independence from them in the future. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take advantage of the promotion done by labels. On the contrary, whenever your song is played by an artist or featured on a playlist that the label has a relationship with, thank them and start building a relationship with them so you can turn them into your contacts. In a way, the more a label expands your reach, the more people you’ll try to bring to your personal list so, again, you don’t depend on labels for your next release. The more you do this, the bigger your reach will be, regardless of whom you’re signing your track to, and that’s something every label loves in an artist.
5. You must actively promote your song as even good music doesn’t sell itself. Good music doesn’t promote itself. For people to listen to your songs, it has to be put in front of them. At the same time that you can promote your songs for free, as I’ve done many times, it’s actually really hard and your results will be a bit limited. Instead, set aside a budget for every future release, and literally every dollar counts. Then, after curating your promo list for Spotify playlists, make sure to send your tracks to the playlist owners via submithub or via email, and this is what you’re going to use your budget for. From a personal perspective, I view investing in playlists as a bit better than investing in direct ads for your song since… when was the last time you listened to a song because of an ad? If you want to promote your song directly, make sure to invest only when you feel your music is ready to be promoted. When you stop to see an ad, and that ad doesn’t deliver what you expected, it’s likely that you won’t stop for it again, and the same could happen to you. Therefore, make sure to actively promote your song to the curated promo lists you’ve built over the years. If you want to learn more about how you can promote your song, make sure to read this post about marketing your song and get our release checklist, which is included in the post.
1 QUESTION FOR YOU
What else should you avoid doing as a producer?
1. Don’t allow yourself to Plateau: The one thing I ask myself every time nowadays is ‘How can I make this song different from my last one’. Before, I used to be focused on making what the label wanted and what has worked in the past, but what has worked in the past can be generic for the future. Push yourself to always learn or do something new in your songs.
2. Trying to do everything for free: From a development perspective, free content will help you a lot, and it can even get you signed, but if you’re stuck, it can be more expensive than paying for help with a mentor. Free is cheaper, but it costs more time, and that is time you could have been making another song.
3. Understand the game you’re going to play: The day you understand how labels make money, and how playlisters make money will be huge for your to understand, for example, why you need a budget for every release. If you know what game you’re playing, it’s easier to play it right and win it.