Oh. Why did I do that…
Wouldn’t it be amazing to own a time machine? There have been so many times when I have thought to myself, I wish I hadn’t done that. Today, I finish off my first year of marketing, I will be looking back on this blog and on my music production. Mistakes I’ve made, and what I can learn from it.
Throw money at it.
When I began my music making life, I was an idiot. I spent unnecessary amounts of money and time buying and downloading different synths and VST’s. I knew I didn’t sound like a professional producer, and I expected that it was simply that I didn’t have the products they used. I reasoned that if I threw enough money at the problem, I would eventually sound like the industry leaders.
After my first year of producing music, I went through my files to see how I had improved.
In fact, my productions had gotten worse.
“How is this possible?” I thought, “I have been learning so much, I have all this software now, surely I should sound better.”
What I discovered is that while my skills had increased, I had oversaturated myself in options. With only a piano, many of the greatest songs of all time have been written. Here I was trying to learn how to play the entire orchestra.
A lack of vision, paired with unlimited options meant I would completely lose focus on producing music while trying to find which of my seven bass synths suited the song best (when in reality any of them would have sounded the exact same once in the mix).
I have learned since that limitation does not hinder creativity but actually enhances it. By having established boundaries, you waste less time trying to push your limits, and more time trying to work within your established rules.
A brilliant example of this is Image Line’s 3xosc challenge, which told users to create a song only using their 3xosc synthesizer (the most simple synth they have developed), and the results are incredible.
Challenge yourself by limiting what you can and can’t do. Try writing out rules on a sheet of paper before you write out your music. You might be surprised how much faster you will work when you take the decision-making process out of the picture.
Repetition and consistency
Write a song with no tonal center, and you are a bad songwriter. Write an album with it, and you are a genius of musical composition. Its amazing how once our brains are used to an idea, we can adjust our way of thinking to allow that thing to fit into our worldview. Robert D. James, a pioneer of electronic music, once said,
“if you hear a chord that you’ve never heard before, you’re like, “huh.” And your brain has to change shape to accept it.”
If you are consistent with your brand, people can come to know what to expect from you. Aphex Twin will always make out-of-tune music, and the Chainsmokers will always make poppy music for the masses.
Because both of these brands are consistent, they both are able to build up a strong fanbase who know what to expect from them. If either of them were to try the other’s formula, however, they would likely alienate their fanbase and lose traction in their respective fields.
This brings me to my next point:
I don’t know what I am doing.
In both my music and my blog, I feel I have not had a clear focus on what I have wanted to express on these mediums. My advertising program required me to write blogs relevant to course content, but my own focus and passions are in musical production. It has been quite a stretch trying to compromise both into a cohesive final product.
Because of a lack of tonal focus, it has been hard for me to gain any traction, and with a lack of consistency, I have not been regular enough for users to feel any benefit to following this blog.
My global audience of beatmakers and producers don’t often venture too deep into blog territory, so I feel that I would have to really ‘up’ the quality and relevance of my posts if I wanted to build a meaningful community of people looking to discuss the topics I touch on.
Will I keep this blog alive?
Heck yeah! I enjoy educating people on music production as much as I love songwriting itself, and I find it gratifying to see my “students” (or in this case, cousin) improve over time.
Once I get into my work schedule, I will be able to see how consistent my blog will be, but I am hoping to post something every second Wednesday. I want to keep the focus more on music concepts over actual hard-knowledge, as I find technical teaching is better suited for video.
Instead, I plan to be more a voice of reason, giving sage wisdom from the mountaintop of my past mistakes, to beginners who wish to know where to start when they begin their music-making journeys.
If I had a time machine, would I change a thing? Sure! Why not?
But alas, I don’t have one, nor do I wish to open up the possibility of creating a paradox where I cease to exist.
Because I can’t give my past self lessons I’ve learned from my mistakes, I guess I’ll just post them here, for the next generation of producers!