I'd like to share a conversation I had with @Rick_Forte on Twitter.
It's probably the most popular type of question people ask me. I think it touches upon something most of us feel, regardless of our ability and experience. My response is just as much to myself as it is to Ricky. Maybe it will help you get to work today :)
And if you haven't already, connect with me on Twitter.
First of all I love listening to your podcasts. Awesome content. I was wondering how you got over the hump (if there was any) in your music production? The first several years I started out I was just messing around in Ableton, watching LOTS of YouTube/reading unthinkable amounts of tutorials but mostly just not getting too much of anything done.
As of late I've become much more comfortable getting a beat down and messing around with sound design seriously to get a cool melody going from something I've synthesized myself. I have some cool beats but I don't know what to do to take my production to the 'next level'. I read somewhere (maybe it was you) that there's a couple stages to music production that went something like "learning curve/struggle to progress > exponential growth > plateau > breaking through the plateau to get professional sounding mixdowns and arrangement." Not verbatim but something like that.
I believe I'm in the beginning of the exponential growth phase but still finding it difficult to understand how certain elements of a song interact with each other as well as how/what effects (and knobs on the effect) are actually doing to the signal.
I think the my biggest concern is trying to compare myself to my favorite artist which is absolutely ridiculous at this stage but hard not to do when I have a bar set for myself. I know I can get there eventually and I truly love the process but I don't even have a finished song yet. That's a concern of mine. I need to finish songs and lots of them to see improvement.
Do you have any suggestions or tips you could share with me?
And here is my response...
Thanks for the kind words.
As far as I can tell, everyone feels like you! I know I do. Even people that seem like they are really doing well have that nagging feeling. I think it's part of what helps you grow. If you have this desire and urgency to get better, you will likely do so. If you think you have it all figured out, then you'll probably never get any better. So it's a good thing.
My advice about finishing songs... (and this is something I need to do more of) is just finish them. Make terrible music. Who cares?! You don't have to show anyone. Just push through even if you feel like it is terrible. It will give you the practice and the experience of finishing a song. That will come in handy when you have something that you think is actually good. You'll know what to do. It would suck if when you finally get something you like, you do a bad job finishing it because you've never done it before.
Maybe even make it a game. Make shitty music! Try to make something today that you know is terrible. Then you will get to the final stages of production and get some practice at it. I did a podcast episode about this called "Make Bad Music." It's actually the second one I did.
If you compare yourself to your favorite artists you are being unfair to yourself. Would you compare a little league baseball player to Mickey Mantle? It's just not reasonable. Your favorite artists have likely been working at it for years and years. They've also probably got a team of experts working with them. Plus you are hearing their finished product, not the demo they put together in a few hours.
I remember someone once said it took them ten years to become an overnight success. I thought that was funny, but also showed that there is so much work that never gets seen.
Just keep working! Make an effort to grow and progress everyday. In every project you do, even if you hate it, think of it as a learning experience. Then all is not lost. Make 500 terrible songs. Then when you create something great, you will be ready for it.
Focus on the process and the practice. The results will follow!