If you haven't checked out my previous blog entry - "Top 3 Causes of Unfinished Music/Beats", I recommend that you read that first here.
Now that we've identified some of the causes of unfinished music, let's try to find some solutions. I'll be going through this point-by-point, as in my previous entry.
Cause #1 - Too many options
Solution: Place limitations on yourself
Limitation #1 - Equipment/Sound Selection
With modern soft samplers, VSTs, and DAWs, anything is possible. While this can definitely be positive, it can also create a challenge for some.
- "Where to start?! I have so many sounds/effects to choose from!"
For some, the solution may be to invest in some hardware. No, I'm not suggesting that you totally ditch your laptop for a piece of 90s nostalgia, but adding a piece of hardware to your setup might help your workflow. Additionally, limiting yourself to a certain group of sounds can not only speed up your selection, but it also spark creativity.
Example #1: Instead of having 5 different VST synthesizers, buy one hardware synth and learn it inside and out. Instead of bouncing around from plugin to plugin searching through all of the presets, you'll have one go-to piece that you understand well. You can always have the VSTs as a back-up, and you'll probably have a better understanding of synthesis than you did before.
Example #2: Let's say you have a 10 different sample packs, each with 30 Kicks/Snares/Hats, etc. That's 900 sounds to audition, when you only want to use three! Instead of browsing though each sample pack and randomly listening to sounds, limit yourself by making a song using only one sample pack. Not only will it speed things up, but you'll also get to know your favorite sounds in each sample pack. For the next track, you can try out a different pack.
Limitation #2 - Time
It's always tempting to delay the release of your music until it's perfect.
"No, the song just isn't there yet. I'll release it once I'm happy with it."
The result? Usually it's a song just sitting on your hard drive waiting to be forgotten.
A better approach would be to give yourself a deadline.
- If you're self-disciplined, you can simply tell yourself - "By the time I go to bed on Sunday, this track will be uploaded."
- Alternatively, if you need an extra push, send a message to one of your peers and tell them that you're going to send them your new track by a certain time. "Hey, I'm putting the finishing touches on my new track - I'll send it to you this weekend. I'd appreciate any feedback!"
If you're like me, this added pressure could help you sit down and focus on fine-tuning the track instead of taking the easy route and postponing it to a later date.
Even if you're still not happy with the track, at least it's able to be heard by others who can give you some valuable feedback. You can always tweak the song later, but at least you've gotten over that first hurdle and uploaded it for others to hear.
Cause#2 - Perfectionism
Solution: Upload a video of the song in progress/get a second pair of ears
Tip #1 Upload a video of the song in progress
Although having high standards for yourself is a good thing, it can also prevent you from releasing your music. When I first started uploading songs to Youtube, I was stressed because once I uploaded something, there was no way to update it. If I decided to change the mix, for example, there was no way to do so without removing the song and then reposting it. This caused me to slow down, because I wanted to ensure everything was perfect until I uploaded it.
Instead of uploading the final song, upload a "working draft" filmed with your phone. By doing this, you accomplish a few things:
1) Most importantly, people are finally able to hear your product
2) they can give you some feedback/encouragement which can help you finish the song
3) a casual recording of you making the track humanizes you and connects you with your audience
4) since both you and your audience know that it's unfinished, it takes some pressure off of you.
Whenever you do finish the song, a link can be posted to the final version on your site.
Tip #2 - Get a second pair of ears
When you're the only one who hears your song, you begin to second guess everything after hearing it so many times. In this case, having another person listen to your music can really help you finish your track. Ask a friend, colleague, or upload an unfinished mix to the internet as I mentioned above.
If you're having problems mixing, perhaps it would be worthwhile to pay somebody to mix a few your tracks in order to get a second opinion. Be sure to ask them what they did, however, so you can try to do it yourself in the future.
Thanks for reading, and please stay tuned as I'll be updating this blog entry in the near future. Please comment!