How many songs did you write last year?
2? 5? 10? 20?!
What if I told you that you can easily DOUBLE your output in the studio?
What if I told you that you don’t even need to spend more time in the studio?….
Would that be interesting for you?
Ok, I’m teasing…. I know it would :-p
And that’s great because the point of this post is to show you exactly how I did it and how YOU can follow that same roadmap to make more music.
THE FIRST THING you should know is that it doesn’t matter how little music you’ve been writing and recording lately, you can absolutely double your musical output without having to make more time for music!
In 2014, I only wrote 4 tunes.
In 2015, I doubled my output and produced 9 new tunes….
THEN I had a real big breakthrough and things went a bit crazy…..
In 2016, I wrote, recorded and produced another 100 tunes!
That’s right, 1 HUNDRED tunes!!!!
THE SECOND THING you should know is that the biggest roadblock you face as an artist has got nothing to do with music….
The biggest roadblock you face as an artist is…..
the perfectionist mindset!
I could tell you exactly how I went from point A (9 tracks in 12 months) to point B, (100 tracks in 12 months) and it wouldn’t help you one bit if you can’t get it out of your mind that every single track your release has to be “perfect”.
Don’t worry, I know you know this already and you’ve tried getting over it before.
I’ve got you covered 😉
Getting Rid of the Perfectionist Mindset
I’ve already told you that I wrote 100 new tunes in 2016. That year, I also released 2 albums and 2 EPs in 6 months…
Why am I telling you this?
It’s simple really: I want you to know that I released albums and EPs that were NOT perfect (far from it!!!) and…. nothing bad happened to me 😉
I’m still alive, I’m still making music, I’m still licensing music. All is well.
I’m not making millions but I’m doing ok, doing something I love.
All because I stopped aiming for perfection and started thinking about a few things differently…
1. “Quality” doesn’t matter, enjoy the process
For some reason, we seem to think quantity and quality are mutually exclusive.
They are not.
In my experience…. quality comes with quantity…. The more I practice, the better I get.
That’s applicable to music just as it is applicable to sports and office work.
There will be plateaus and short periods of regression but overall, if you keep going, you’ll get better and better at writing music.
And guess what?
You’re more likely to keep going if you’re enjoying the process.
And you’re more likely to enjoy the process if you’re not focused on the ever elusive target of reaching perfection 😉
Sure. Some tracks take ages.
Still, others turn out great in just a couple of hours.
Here’s an example of something I wrote in 30 minutes. No changes, no additional mixing, no nothing.
This is the result after 30 minutes, no cheating:
Well, I like it!
Maybe you don’t. I hope you do but that’s not really the point!
The point is I made something out of nothing and had fun doing it!!!
Aaaand….. it took me 30 minutes.
For some reason, and even though we know the enjoyment of art is subjective, we seem to think that we’re the best judge of our own music….
It’s not for us to say if our music is good or not.
In fact, it’s not for ANYBODY to say!
Some will like your track. Others won’t.
The point is you should enjoy making it.
Then, it makes sense to try to sell it so you can support your musical passion and make others.
Whether you manage to sell it or not, whether that’s through streaming, album sales, licensing or other, doesn’t really matter.
The whole point is you ENJOY making music.
If you don’t, if you spend night after night questioning your self-worth because your last track doesn’t match up to your musical heroes, what’s the point?!!
The less you focus on judging your music and trying to anticipate what others will think, the more you can enjoy the process 😉
The more you enjoy the process, the more music you’ll make, the more you’ll improve your music making.
2. You Don’t Need Anything “More”
Have you noticed how much more time something takes when there’s a long time to do it… There’s actually a name for this phenomenon. It’s called Parkinson’s law…
The truth is you don’t need any more time.
Yes, even if you have a full-time job and a side gig as a parent of four! 🙂
As long as you can squeeze in 30 minutes here and there, you can make more music.
The bottom line is you don’t need a lot of time to make music.
As you’ll see when you go through the music productivity roadmap below, showing up regularly to short music sessions can easily do the trick.
Another thing you DON’T need more of is gear and plugins….
You may think that you’re missing a crucial piece of equipment, that your music is just one plugin away from sounding professional but that’s simply not true!
The only thing you need is a computer or tablet with a user-friendly music software or app.
That could be GarageBand, Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Reason or whatever. The only thing that matters is that you find it user-friendly.
On top of that, there are a few optional pieces of equipment that you can do without but really, really help:
1- a MIDI controller (doesn’t need to be 88 keys!)
2- an audio interface to plug in a mic and/or guitar
3- decent headphones and/or studio monitors
This was my setup on a romantic getaway…. In my defense, my partner thought it was romantic to go for a run in the morning sooooo….. it’s a tie :-p
Yes, you can purchase more equipment, more loops, more plugins.
Yes, it may improve your production.
And yet, it may not improve anything at all….
The more you have, the longer you get sucked into the studio vortex.
And the more you get sucked into the studio vortex, the more you risk RUINING the music!!!
Yes, it’s paradoxical but I’m sure you’ve experienced it many MANY times before.
Have a look at your unfinished projects (lyrics you started writing but never finished, instrumentals you started recording but gave up on….)
How many of those do you have?
Now how does that number compare to the number of finished songs you have?
Thought so 😛
All in all, it boils down to this one hard cold fact…
99% of people listening to your music will NOT hear the difference if you spend an extra hour tweaking the EQ on the hi-hats!!!
Taking it to the extreme here but you know what I mean 😉
3. You Don’t Need to Be “Inspired” to Create Something Great
As long as you stick with it, inspiration will come.
As long as you show up, something will happen. Good or bad.
And remember, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s good or bad 😉
- You’re under no obligation whatsoever to release all your tunes
- You can always use a pseudonym to release tracks you’re not too sure about
- Your “bad” is often someone else’s “good” and vice versa
Saying all this is easy. We know all this already.
The trouble is we keep forgetting it!!!
That’s where the Music Productivity Roadmap comes in…
It’s a 6 stage process that will FORCE you to get rid of your perfectionist mindset.
If you want to keep up with the 6 months deadline, you’ll have no choice.
You’ll HAVE to forget about quality for a while and focus on quantity.
You won’t have time to second-guess yourself.
You won’t have time to wait for inspiration to strike.
Stage 1: Embracing Chaos
During that stage, the goal is to write as much as you can.
In order to do that, you’ll need to disregard quality COMPLETELY.
Here are 2 tricks that have worked wonders for me…
Try aiming for a goal that would be a HUGE success for you but you doubt you can hit, i.e. it’s unlikely but not completely impossible.
|Last 4 weeks – actual||Next 4 weeks – goal|
|1 track||4 tracks|
|2 tracks||8 tracks|
|3 tracks||15 tracks|
|4 tracks||20 tracks|
|7 tracks||25 tracks|
|10 tracks||50 tracks|
You really don’t have to follow the numbers above by the way! I’m just putting this out here in case you have no clue where to start
The goal here is to reduce the time you have to second-guess yourself.
If it doesn’t completely freak you out and paralyze you, I suggest you set a timer to XX minutes and…
I suggest starting with 30 minutes sessions because we’re all busy and 30 minutes is usually shorter than what we’re used to.
Experiment with this and find your sweet spot BUT keep in mind that the purpose of the exercise is for you to stop second-guessing yourself.
If you still have time to go back and change the bass sound 4 times, you’re giving yourself too much time
Remember, we are NOT focusing on quality at this stage.
We are aiming for QUANTITY. Lots and lots of new music is the ultimate goal!!!!
At the end of each session, make sure:
1.You record or bounce your project;
2. You refrain from listening to what you’ve just recorded. You’ll have plenty of time to do that during stage 2….
It’s important that you remember THESE ARE NOT MEANT TO BE FINISHED MIXES!!! Crappy demos are fine!! 🙂
Stage 2: Organizing the Mess
Now that you have lots of new music to play with, it’s time to work out which tunes you want to focus on.
It’s easy to underestimate this housekeeping step BUT it’s important that you take the time to do this.
Because the next time you sit down to work on music, it will be MUCH EASIER for you to decide what track you want to work on.
Stage 3: Building on the First Drafts
This stage is my favorite part of the process!!
This is where you get to go all craaaaazzzy and try out weird production techniques.
You add dirty electric guitars on your lovely orchestral piece.
You play the harmonica on a hip hop beat.
You switch the arrangement around, etc.
Here’s my 2 step process to get the most out of this stage…
Stage 4: Zoom & Focus
Of course, all this new, raw material won’t do any good if you only ever add stuff and experiment.
At some point, you need to figure out where you’re going and decide on the final destination.
Otherwise, all you’ll ever be doing is experimenting and creating but never selling anything.
This is fine by the way! There is nothing wrong with doing music for music’s sake and not trying to get paid for the privilege.
All I’m saying is if you DO want to make money making music and earn a living as a musician, you need to finish music and sell it.
The challenge comes in knowing when a track is finished and ready to sell….
Here’s the thing: you never know when a track is finished and you sure as hell can’t tell if it’s ready to make money!
All you can do is put it out there and do your best to promote it and have people listen to it.
Here’s how you get to that stage:
Stage 5: Releasing the Music & Moving On
Your music is finished. Congrats!
Now it’s time to release it!!!
As a side note, releasing music doesn’t mean you have to get your single or album on Spotify and iTunes. Releasing music could simply mean uploading your songs or instrumentals on music sharing platforms like Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Reverbnation, Songtradr, etc..
Now before you freak out and wonder what kind of trap I set up for you, RELAX!
You REALLY don’t have to make every single track public 🙂
I highly encourage you to make as many of them public as you can possibly tolerate…. Even the tracks that are slightly embarrassing….. You might just be surprised 😉
BUT, the bottom line is you don’t have to.
If you’re uncomfortable releasing some tracks, don’t.
If you’re uncomfortable but kind of disappointed in yourself for being just a tiny bit silly (which we all are sometimes!), one neat trick would be to release the music you’re not quite sure about under a pseudonym….
Or you could just save that “not quite” music for cheap royalty-free stock music libraries and make a few bucks that way.
Whatever you decide to do….
DO IT and MOVE ON!!!!!
There’s really no reason to sit on these tracks forever.
Either you find a way to release them that you’re comfortable with OR you just file them into a lost folder on your hard drive.
And don’t be obsessed by the number of tracks that are good and bad. Just keep going!
I wrote 100 but you don’t have to!! The point is NOT to write 100 new tunes…..
The points is to get rid of the perfectionist mindset and enjoy yourself!!!
The quality of the music will follow eventually and little by little, you’ll become really good at writing music really fast.
The more material you have, the more you can build on it and come up with really cool tunes..
Isn’t that what we all want?!
Really cool tunes in our catalogue?! 🙂
To get there I simply challenge you to follow the music productivity roadmap in the next 6 months and see where it takes you….
I’m confident you’ll DOUBLE your musical output!