Last time we spoke about Productivity tips. Hopefully, you’ve found a way to get started and make some half decent tracks.
The next step is to make sure you get them finished. It may seem we are teaching you to suck eggs, but I write this as much for my own benefit as yours. It’s good to remind yourself of tips and techniques once in awhile. Sports people do it so why don’t we?
Here are 5 tips to help get your stubborn songs finished...
1) Use Pen and Paper
There are 5 stages to this tip:
A - Bounce the song and get away from your DAW
B - Grab a pen and a piece of paper
C - Play the song
D - Jot down all your thoughts about what needs doing as the song plays
E - Go back and fix all of the things you noted down
Try and only do this once. If you keep repeating this process, it just becomes part of your production process and you will end up continuously tweaking.
2) Treat it as a demo
If you’re writing/producing for someone else, you generally only need to work until you think you have done well and the paying client is happy.
If you’re working on your own track, you can often be your own worst enemy. Putting yourself under pressure is good to an extent. Sometimes the burden of your own expectation means cracking rather than strengthening. Set yourself free and treat the song as an experiment, as a demo. Who cares if it’s a little rough? Just focus on the vibe and not technical perfection, emotion is all important.
3) Play It To Other People, Collaboration!
If you have an A&R team, publisher or label then chances are you are already doing this. If you don’t, why not build a group of people who will give you honest feedback on your tracks. This could be friends with good taste as well as fellow producers or artists. A word of warning though, if you’re putting WIPs on forums, be wary of the types of people that hang around on them. Yes you will get some great advice from people that passionately care about their genre. However, there are always some hyper-critical self-appointed guardians of sub-genres that lurk around pouncing on things that dare to be different. Keep a pinch of salt handy.
A good trick that I like to do is play my songs to people who don’t usually listen to that genre of music. This is a great litmus test for a track’s overall quality. For example, I play Drum ’n’ Bass and Rap tracks to people more in tuned to Pop, House or Indie Rock. If it’s a good song, they will like it despite their preferences.
4) Call It Done
This is really counterintuitive and obviously quite subjective but psychologically rather important. Sometimes you just have to think “screw it I think it’s done” and start sharing. This will do 2 things:
A) Help you conquer your fear of finishing
B) Allow you make small revisions in the future if needed
If you’re really not happy with a certain ride or vocal syllable, it’s fine you can come back and tweak it. The difference being that you will be tweaking a finished song not a work in progress. You will be less inclined to faff around with things. It’s like adjusting the fruit on a freshly baked cake, compared to chucking fruit into the tin along with the cake mix before baking. The mindset is different.
You will also find, that the more you finish a record, the better you become at realising when something is “finished”, so to speak.
5) Leave it, yeah
Leaving it can mean 2 things. Firstly, leave it for a while and come back to it with a fresh set of ears and maybe some feedback from people you trust.Secondly, it can mean leaving it altogether. It might well be that you’re struggling to finish the track because you know know it’s not that good. There’s no harm in accepting that. There’s no failure in the creation of art, only continual learning. Mark the piece down in a Scrapped Ideas folder and move on to the next piece. You may find that a certain hook, progression or riff works well in a future piece. Even if it doesn’t, so what? The music is out there. Keep channeling.
Written by: Super Joshi
Super Joshi is an Artist and the Founder of "Buy My Tunes", which is launching soon. Follow him on twitter @1SuperJoshi.