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Navigating The Mental Game Of Making Music


In today’s musical landscape, it seems that musicians are tasked to develop the skill of becoming their own producers.

Musicians who can write, record, mix and release their own product will inevitably thrive in this new face of the music industry. I would argue the new age “indie musician” is the “music producer” who can compose, arrange, record, and mix music, which opens up a multitude of potential gigs!

However, producing music can be one of the most frustrating parts of being a musician.

Consequently, it’s also one of the most fulfilling.

Why is it frustrating? Here are 3 main reasons:

  1. Lack of structure
  2. Self-doubt
  3. Perfectionism

How do you overcome these obstacles? Let’s dive into each of these areas and help you navigate the muses to finish your songs!

 

1) Order Out Of Chaos

 

Whether it’s songwriting, arranging, sound design or mixing, most of the steps in producing music are creative and mysterious in nature. The key to persevering through multiple creative tasks is to establish a structure.

If your approach is highly unorganized, you may get too stuck in your head. You’ll end up at rock bottom: listening to a loop on repeat and menu diving through presets.

Developing a sequential approach to making music can help you stay focused on one step at a time.

Another way to beat your creative juices into submission (oops, that sounded wrong) is to give yourself a strict deadline. Tell someone or make a public announcement to keep yourself accountable.

This will start to exercise the whole idea behind Parkinson’s Law. “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion” In other words, you generally take as much time as you have to complete a project. 

Remember when you procrastinated on doing your essay assignment in high school until the last possible minute?

Finally, you’ll want to limit yourself, especially when working on a creative task. Analysis paralysis is a real thing, and typically the more options you have, the more difficult it becomes to choose.

Give yourself a prompt. Choose a key, pick your instruments, find a vibe, and go for it!

 

2) You Are Your Biggest Enemy

 

We’ve all felt it. Coming down from the high of your honeymoon phase with music. The sense of wonderment enthused musical exploration, and the excitement of fanciful ideas all come to a screeching halt when you’re faced with actually bringing your artistic vision into reality.

Truth: production is mostly a work ethic, not talent. It can be a chaotic, messy, and emotional roller coaster. Luckily, you’re reading this blog post.

Don’t wait for inspiration.

Train your creativity like a martial art. Strength, precision, and mastery won’t just come to you. You have to practice regularly, otherwise, you might not even have the strength to push through when inspiration comes.

Produce something every day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. You’ll be blown away by the power of a simple daily practice.

Inevitably we all come across the clutches of self-doubt. At first, when you get an idea, it may seem like the best idea you’ve ever had. However, after a while, you may realize it’s decent but not as cool as you first thought.

At this point, I implore you: Keep going. Keep pushing. Keep creating.

Maintaining some forward momentum in your music will help you stay in the flow state and avoid getting stuck in your head. The more you push through these moments, the easier it will become! Excellence is achieved not being the best, but by doing your best.

Beyond stampeding over writer’s block with sheer will. Sometimes it’s more valuable to take a break. Stepping away from your song for a day or two and coming back with fresh ears can work wonders.

Now go forth and conquer yourself!

 

3) Perfectionism Always Crashes The Party

 

You’ll want to embrace “failure”. This is one of the most profound mindset shifts you can have. I put “failure” in brackets because the idea of good and bad creative work is 100% subjective. 

You will produce a bad song. Everybody does at some point. Once you can embrace the fact that this happens from time to time, you’ll be more free to create.

“Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders” – The Beatles.

I suggest you remove the word failure from your vocabulary, it’s a limiting belief and won’t serve you in any way. Replace it with opportunity. The opportunity to learn, to grow, to try, to express yourself!

This will allow you to accept making mistakes, to experiment, to stop being so hard on yourself.

This whole idea stems from the growth mindset, in which you adjust your perception to actually help you. What a concept! Lol

The truth about perfectionism is that it’s an illusion. Nothing is perfect, and nothing will ever be. You could theoretically keep working on a song forever. At some point you have to say: this is good enough.

Usually, obsessing over getting something “perfect” is a cover for our deep subconscious fears such as: fear of rejection and the fear of failure.

Every piece of music was consciously chosen to be finished. Every. Single. One.

I hope this post inspires you to unlock your creative clutches and fly freely!

Allow yourself to express and explore the music that’s waiting inside of you.

Interested in learning more? Click here to download your Workflow Wizardry PDF. It’s a simple 7 step framework to take your very first musical ideas all the way to a finished product while keeping you focused and motivated.

My name is Alexandre Joyal. I help music creators achieve success with their music by teaching them how to produce themselves and adopt a creative mindset.


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About Audio Issues and Björgvin Benediktsson

At Audio Issues you’ll learn simple and practical audio production tips you can use right away to improve your music from your home recording studio.  Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release.

We help home studio musicians and project studio producers make a greater musical impact in their lives by teaching them the skills needed to grow their hobbies and careers. We do this by offering simple and practical music production and success skills they can use right away to level themselves up – while rejecting negativity and gear-shaming from the industry. A rising tide floats all boats and the ocean is big enough for all of us to surf the sound waves.

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