The grind as a music producer is tough. There is a multitude of highs and lows and there’s a lot to learn. This is why it’s easy to hold yourself back from any career you have the potential for.
And we hate seeing good talent go to waste. So, to help you grow and achieve new heights, we put together this list of five things that may or may not be holding you back. But we know at least one of them applies to you…
Not Releasing Any Music
Before releasing their first song, many budding producers think it’s a good idea to wait for criteria to be hit before they release any music. It could be that they are a perfectionist and their music “isn’t good enough”. It may be that they don’t think their following is big enough on Soundcloud or other social sites.
Whatever reason it may be, if you find yourself waiting to release music then this is the biggest thing holding you back. It’s a bad idea to release unfinished music, but it’s a worse idea to not release music full stop.
It’s true that a lot of people, too many in fact, have a strong sense of perfectionism about their music. The fear of no one listening also makes them sit on their music for years, and this is a waste of time that they could have spent growing an audience with their music.
If you have a track that you feel is your current best, just release it. Your song doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, it doesn’t need to be as good as or better than any other songs you may or may not listen to. The goal is to learn about the process of releasing music and making mistakes sooner rather than later.
By releasing your current best, you’re also going to get feedback that you can take back to your studio. You’ll also learn by making mistakes along the way. But each time you release music you’ll find yourself getting better at both making and releasing music.
You’re Doing Too Much Stuff
Many producers do everything themselves. They design the sounds for a track, arrange it, mix it, master it. Then they make artwork, promote the song, and then find they have little time.
Being an independent musician is just like being a business – they are one in the same thing. You don’t need to do everything by yourself, and you shouldn’t. An independent musician needs a multitude of skills, and being the master of all of these skills is hard. In fact, it’s discouraging!
You want to get the most quality out of your work, and that means outsourcing. Focus on what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at. With that said, to truly maximize quality you need to focus on what you’re good at over what you enjoy doing. Outsource everything else.
Here’s an example. You can design your sounds and arrange your track, and maybe even mix it down. But if your mixing skills aren’t up to scratch, outsource it. And outsource the mastering of the track too!
When it comes to promoting your music, get someone else to do the artwork for you. You’re trying to be a musician, not a graphic designer. Prioritize what’s important.
Outsource mastering and artwork for your music so that you can fous on writing music.
The Fear of Trying Something New
You may find yourself comfortable and set in your routine. It works, so why change it?
But by allowing yourself to settle into a set routine, you’re denying yourself a world of learning opportunities. And when you do deny yourself these opportunities, both your music production and potential audience size suffer. Having a routine is great, but sometimes it pays to break it.
Are you scared to collaborate with other musicians you don’t know very well? Are you comfortable with your mixing routine or synthesizer, and “don’t need to change it”?
Rather than explain the cost of being too comfortable, we want you to experience it first hand.
Set yourself a challenge for each week of one month. It could be to learn a new synth or to reach ut to a peer you don’t know very well. It could be to learn a new DAW, a new plugin, or make a new music-making routine.
Reflect on what it is you currently do when you make music. Then ask yourself “what can I change?”
Poor Time Management
Are you not spending enough time on your music? Or are you spending too much time on it? Are you procrastinating that little bit too much during the week? Whichever one you find yourself to be doing, you need to take a look at how you can better manage your time.
Reflecting on how you spend your time is a fantastic way to start figuring out why your career isn’t moving forward. Do you set yourself any goals? Or do you just sit at your computer and “go with it”?
Goals are the way forward. Whether your goal is to finish a track by the end of the week, to be playing shows by the end of the year, or to better understand your DAW, setting yourself goals will propel you towards a successful career.
When it comes to procrastination, a few days here and there are okay. One day a week of no music-making can be a great brain reset. But it’s important that you don’t let procrastination dominate your time. That’s a one-way ticket to nowhere.
To avoid burning yourself out by working too much and to avoid over-procrastination, track your time for one week. When the week is up, reflect on your time and ask yourself if your music is getting the most out of you, and are you getting the most out of your life?
Are you see friends too little? Are you working on music too much? Or are you seeing friends too much and not making enough music? Life is all about balance!
Being Discouraged Too Easily
Do you compare yourself to that of your peers and favorite artists? We’re sure you probably have at some point if you don’t now. Your music and your carer are both unique to you. Not only this, but you need to think about what success means to you.
Is it being able to play shows locally, or being a megastar? Is it having respect from your peers? Or is it just enjoying what you do?
Many producers suffer from being easily discouraged. You need a mindset that enables you to be working at the bottom for a long time. There are countless highs and lows in the career of a music producer, and you need to be prepared for all of them – especially the lows.
Honing your own sound can take years. Building an audience can take a long time. Making a living from music can take a decade or more. Being a music producer is not a get-rich-quick scheme or an easy ride. Your journey is unique, and so is that of your peers. This is why comparing yourself to others is a game that you should not be playing.
There are countless highs and lows in the career of a music producer, and you need to be prepared for all of them – especially the lows.
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