One of the most fascinating fears and frustrations when working with music, either if you are an independent artist who works in your home studio or you are in a band making music, is that everyone wants to be recognised and show the world what you can do and how amazing your music is. However, many of us are so terrified of what the public might say about our music that we don’t release anything unless, in your mind, it’s perfect. A goal which is unreachable for many of you because you are always tweaking those knobs and therefore never complete your songs. This makes it impossible for you to achieve your goals and harder to grow as a musician/producer/mixer etc.
Have a look at these quotes for example:
“One of my major problems is perfecting my tracks. I have been stuck in a rut for too long mixing and mastering my music. But never releasing music”
“I’d say I struggle the most at just putting myself out there before I feel like it’s perfect. Asking people to listen to the music I’ve spent hundreds of hours on is terrifying sometimes. Asking them to support me by buying it is tough..”
“I struggle with output in general! I let school and work get in the way of doing much music production–so, in turn, I don’t put out either imperfect material or simple content”
Can you recognise yourself in these fears and frustrations? Are you stopping yourself from releasing your music because you spend too many hours trying to perfect something or do you find that work or school get in the way?
Fortunately, this is something you can overcome, and when you do you won’t only realise that there is nothing to be scared of but you can actually start to release more music than you have done in the past, even if you have other commitments in your life.
What are the benefits of getting rid of these fears and start to produce music?
Growing your fans base. At the moment you might not have a big fan base yet, you are still establishing yourself. By releasing more music often than less you will have a better chance of growing your fan base. You will more often than not pop up with new music and stay present longer in their minds. Remember, The Beatles released new singles quite often at the start of the careers and when they were more established they slowed down and could then release “perfect” music.
Also, which might be the most important part, if you are stuck trying to perfect your tracks is that you will stop growing and stop becoming better. By releasing your music you will get feedback, will people like this or not, what are they saying? This might be hard at times to hear but this is how you grow. Your own perspective of the music will change, you might think that what I did here or there on that song could have been better (which means you are becoming better). But remember, you won’t get this feedback or perspective until you let your music go. It’s after this that you will be able to become a better musician, songwriter, mixer or producer. This is really important, and this is how you eventually become a master at what you do and consequently grow a bigger fan base.
How can you get rid of your fear?
There are many tricks and tips on how to deal with fear, and maybe you have a great way already, but I want to mention Tim Ferriss's “Fear Setting”. This is a great way of defining your fears and understanding what the benefits are by actually doing what is holding you back. It’s a great tool and it has helped me a lot when it comes to my career. I’m going to link the full blog post and Ted talk by Tim Ferris but three key points and exercises that worked well for me was:
1. Define Your Fear. For example, if your fear is that people will laugh at your music, mixes etc., write down exactly what comes into your head, no filter. Just get it all out. Define your nightmare.
2. What steps could you take to repair the damage if, for example, people did laugh at your music or thought it was awful? Chances are that the impact is not as bad as you think they are.
3. What is the outcomes or benefits of actually doing what is holding you back? What would be beneficial to actually starting to release your music?
Tim Ferris full blog post on the topic: https://tim.blog/2017/05/15/fear-setting/
Or watch his Ted Talk on the same subject here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5J6jAC6XxAI
How To Release More Music
I hope by this stage that you have a better understanding of your fears and understand the benefits of releasing your music and not be held back by fear or “perfection”. Now I want to share my tricks and techniques that work for me that has led me to release more music than ever before. These techniques can hopefully help you if you have commitments to work or school that is holding you back.
What is this secret sauce I’m using?
Organisation and discipline.
Sounds boring to you? The truth is nothing beats hard work and by having my week planned out and the discipline to follow it makes a tremendous difference. I’m not talking about working 12 + hours a day. I’m talking about working smart and having planned my time ahead to make music so I don’t have to get distracted by the other million things that are happening around me (Or on the Internet). This get’s me much more productive and makes me achieve the goals I set out to do.
Another thing which is important is to set deadlines for yourself, and if you can, make it public. I know Graham Cochrane has many good points on this and he is correct. By having a set time to do a task you are more likely to get it finished by that time rather than saying “Oh, I’ll finish this EP in 6 months”. Saying that it will probably take you that long, but giving yourself a shorter deadline can massively increase the number of EP’s you put out a year.
The hardest part might not be to organise your week but to actually follow it. That’s where you need discipline, and that’s just being determined enough to sit down, write music, or mix it, even though you feel tired and you just want to browse Youtube.
Check out Graham Cochrane’s blog about the importance of deadlines here: https://www.recordingrevolution.com/deadlines-the-key-to-productivity/
Ramit Sethi, a leading figure in money and business, said this in one of his emails and I think he is making a very good point about not doing anything and just procrastinating:
“Did I actually get anything meaningful done? Did I do anything I'll remember in 10 years? Will I even remember this stuff next week? I think most of us have the haunting suspicion that we're wasting a lot of time playing games that are engineered to claw our attention, only to look back and realize...we haven't actually been living life.”
Think about this the next time you are struggling to sit down and write or mix your music. It’s all up to you. Take the opportunity and do something meaningful.
Let me know if you have any great ideas to overcoming fear and make more music in the comments below!