Why Quantity > Quality
You’ve heard it over and over how the quality of your creative work is so much more important than quantity, but I think it’s time we turn this belief system on it’s head. Not only is it wrong when making music, it can end up both cripple your creative output, but also lessen the quality of your results.
I’m sure you can give me a hundred reasons why you shouldn’t haphazardly throw creations out into the world, most of which would be making assumptions about what you are truly capable of. You would also be making an assumption that everything you complete needs to be shared with the world. It doesn’t.
I don’t believe that all creations are meant to be shared, but I do believe that creating a habit of not finishing songs becomes a big part of your creative process. If you quit working on a song when it gets difficult or tedious, you never build the tools and habits to get past this point & you’ll never finish anything you start.
Let’s be honest. None of us wants to be a shitty artist. The desire to be great is deeply ingrained in each of us. The fear of sucking at something we are passionate about can either lead us to greatness or mediocrity, depending on our perspective.
Repetition makes us better at whatever habit is being repeated. This means that if we have the habit of quitting every time something isn’t working out, you become a habitual quitter. On the other hand, if you are repeating the process of completing your work & accepting where you’re at, you can turn your weaknesses into strengths.
Nobody starts off a black belt
Are you going to refuse to face an opponent until you’re the best in your class? If this supposed to save you the embarrassment of losing? That’s a pretty stupid approach. Those who take this approach obviously haven’t come to the realization that the only opponent is yourself & that your only goal is to be better than you were yesterday. By taking any other approach, you are doomed to failing by default. Not taking action or quitting before you reach your goal is failing yourself & your true potential. I haven’t heard of any great martial artists who didn’t at one time get their asses handed to them. That is specifically how you learn & get better.
If you are refusing to finish a song because it’s not as good as (fill in the blank of some artist who has failed their way to greatness), you are facing the wrong opponent. If you are expecting your first songs to be amazing, you will be grabbing at something you aren’t tall enough to reach yet. The only way to grow, is to keep stretching yourself. Seeing through your failures to completion & noticing improvements in each attempt is how you grow.
The secret to becoming great
If you seek quantity over quality, you will get both.
By creating the habit of seeing things through, you can’t help but improve the quality of your work. Like I said earlier, the desire to be great is already wired into us. It’s the natural outcome to actions repeated.
You also become great by learning to make decisions quickly instead of over thinking the 10,000 options available to you at every moment. Through experience, you’ll find that there a rarely wrong decisions, just better decisions. A wrong decision can often become a brave & unique technique with a few tweaks.
You know the cliche, the only bad decisions are the ones you don’t make. This isn’t surgery. Nobody gets hurt if your aren’t perfect. Besides, perfection is boring & overrated.
Let’s say you idolize Mozart & you put everything you do up to his work. If your goal is to sound as good as Mozart before you will consider a song complete or worth sharing, you’re going to be doomed to mediocrity. Not because you have bad taste in music & a great artist to model yourself after, but that you will never be satisfied with your own work.
You’ll never feel what it’s like to have someone love your music, even if, in your eyes, it’s not up to your standards. John Lennon didn’t like the sound of his own voice. Can you imagine if he had waited until he loved his own voice before sharing his music with the world? What a shame that would be.
To wrap things up, here are some thoughts you should take away from this
1. The more music you make, the better the quality will become.
2. The more music you finish, the easier finishing music will become.
3. Everybody struggles to sound good when they start
4. The faster you make decisions, the less chance you have of getting stuck or having writer’s block.
5. The more decisions you make, the better your decision making instincts will become
6. We will always aim for quality, whether we make it a conscious goal or not.
7. You’re only ever competing with yourself. Only aim to be better than you were yesterday.
8. Quantity becomes quality over time.
Happy music making,
More great advice, I love the part about John Lennon. Thanks!
Excellent article, and one that I needed dearly. Thank you!
Thanks Jason! So true and useful for all areas of life.
Jason, you are a godsend. Thank you.
Indeed, again a great post. Really inspiring! Thanks.
Great article! I found this really inspiring. I read this before going to bed, made me want to get up and finish some tracks 🙂 Many thanks.
I just watched this presentation – it ties in nicely with some of the points you have made in this post.
Everything you say is very true and great advice. However the conclusion from what you’ve written is not Quantity > Quality, but something more along the lines of “Quality is still the most important thing, but quantity is important as well, especially during the learning process”. But thats obviously not as striking. I definitely wouldn’t have read the article if it was called that :).
Following on from your points I would add
9. But until you reach pure quality, don’t bother sharing your music with the wider world.
10. Because in the wider world you are actually competing with the top dogs. Most producers will be their own biggest fan, if you doubt the quality of your work then others will too.
Using the same same analogy pro-fighters with zero defeats have not actually never lost a fight, they just only went pro once they were pure quality.
I knew some moron like Russ was going to chime in here with their contradictory BS. Russ, you apparently missed the point of the article together. “Until you reach pure quality, don’t bother sharing your music with the wider word”. Facepalm! Idiot! Please, read the article again. And again if necessary until you understand it.
Great post, I totally agree. There’s a point to which you get better by working more on current projects and a point to where you have to move on to get better; my general goal is to keep working on a project only as long as I get better faster doing that than I would starting a new project.
Trying to make the music for my musical has been a creative stretch for me. Though I’ve known these thoughts for scriptwriting, I needed to hear it related to music. Thanks!
Fab article, excellent read, setting me up for Jan 02, 2016…!!!