Finishing music is one of the main skills that you need to have as a producer, but even then a lot of producers struggle with it. Here are a couple of thoughts on this…
4 THOUGHTS FROM ME
1. Stop trying to make your song “as perfect as it can be”. Most producers can’t finish music because they are too much of a perfectionist and they keep going on a loop for ages until they are able to finish a song. To me, as mentioned in this post, perfectionism can be a curse if you can’t control it since it prevents you from finishing music until it’s not 100% perfect, but the truth is that you’ll almost never feel 100% about one song. Duke Dumont, an artist with over 1 BILLION plays on Spotify, mentioned in a recent interview that many of his songs were at 80% stage of what he envisioned them to be, as what happened to his most famous song ‘Ocean Drive’, which has more than 500 Million plays and was the song that put him on the map. This perfectionism normally happens because you are never 100% happy with the way your song is sounding, and there are a couple of ways in which you can overcome this issue: (1) Commit to audio as much as you can, as this will limit your ability to change what you’ve done. (2) Get feedback from your peers and that can help you understand if you still have things to do from other’s perspectives, something that a mixing engineer can also help you with. (3) Start restricting the number of revisions you do in your song or in your mix and master, or send your song to a mixing engineer as they naturally restrict the number of revisions you will have. (4) Set deadlines since they can limit how much you can revise your music. If you can’t set a deadline for yourself, try working on remix competitions, as all these competitions come with deadlines that you’ll have to meet if you want to deliver your song.
2. Stop being afraid to learn how to do what you don’t know yet. I remember when I started to produce, I knew how to make the break and drop 2 (chord drop) in progressive trance, but not drop 1 (bass drop), which is really different from drop 2 in progressive trance. Therefore, I had tons of ‘break + drop 2’ songs, but none of them were finished because I was afraid of making the drop 1 and that prevented me from finishing my songs or I had to rely on collabs to finish my songs (which is why my first three songs are collabs). However, the more you avoid something you NEED to learn, the more it will become a bigger and more daunting problem to you. In other words, the more you let the dragon scare you, the bigger it will be in your mind the next time you face it. To solve this, for your next song, start with what haunts you. Afraid of making the intro? Start with it! Afraid of mixing songs because your skills are not the best? You can even hire an engineer for your release, but make sure to also mix and master yourself and compare the result. Create the habit of facing your issues as soon as they appear to avoid making them bigger than they look since if you let it, this will prevent you from finishing songs, and remember that 30 unfinished songs artistically put you in a worse position than having one ‘ok’ song released.
3. Focus on developing lots of ideas and finishing more and more songs. Finishing songs needs to be an obsession to you and you need to have this in your mind almost like written in stone. For every idea you set yourself to work on, you need to finish it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t release it or it doesn’t get signed, what matters is that you started and you finished it. But, there’s a catch in what I said. If you finished every idea you started, it could make you finish songs that are not worth finishing because the idea is weak, and that’s not time well spent. Instead, focus on making lots of ideas, but only pursue and finish the best ones that you have. For example, I made over 700 4-bar loops in 2022, and I’ve selected over 20 that I want to make into a full 8-bar loop. From these 20, I’ll likely select the 5-10 that I will make into a song. This way you can test the best ideas in the rawest format possible and see which ones call out to you the most. Second, an 8-bar loop is the simplest way that you can see if that idea can become a song, and that can take you around 20-30 mins to make, which is a lot better than working on all ideas you make. However, once you commit to an idea, focus on finishing it, because finished songs are what will put you on your next step as a producer which is ‘trying to release your songs’.
4. You need to have a vision for what your song will be in the end or you can end up in a loop. Nothing mentioned so far really matters if you don’t know where to stop. You may have the skills, the will to learn, and the will to finish songs, but if you don’t have a vision for your song, you’ll always end up on a loop of always trying to make it better, as mentioned in #1. We all suffer from this at some point in our careers, and the way out of it is often having the skills to execute the vision that you set for your song. First of all, if you still have a skill that needs to be developed, remember what we talked on #2 and hone your craft. Then, after you finish your 8-bar loops mentioned in #3, (1) try to lay down an arrangement for your song, even if in your head. Will it have a vocal or a lead synth? How long are you aiming your song to be? These are some questions that will help you tremendously to understand what elements you need to put, or avoid putting, to make your song complete and also not crowded. (2) Ask for feedback from your peers and ask what they think about the song. Often when you think the song is ready might not be what others think, and that might motivate you to add or cut some stuff from your song; (3) Lastly, you can always rely on A/B comparisons with reference tracks to make sure that your song is as good as reference tracks, or as loud, or as bright, etc. Doing EQ Matching, as you can see in this video, is what normally helps me not overdo my mixes and master for example, and that heavily relies on reference tracks.
1 QUESTION FOR YOU
What else can you do to finish more songs?
1. Set a goal of how many tracks you want to finish this year: Don’t think about how many songs you want to release, but how many songs you want to finish. The goal is always to finish songs, and releasing is a consequence.
2. Develop a streamlined workflow that avoid you from halting: Sometimes, you get caught because you keep on looking for the perfect sound or perfect sample. If that’s your case, restrict yourself to using one sample or preset pack to avoid overloading yourself with options
3. Set up an accountability partner: When you have a partner that keeps you in line with your goals, you tend to follow through with your goals a lot more as you will not want to ‘look bad’ or ‘look a as quitter’ to your friend. Therefore, having an accountability partner can help you tremendously with following through with your goals