The Ableton “1 Hour a Day” Experiment
As of this writing, I have been conducting an experiment for about a week and it has been pretty inspiring to say the least.
I set out to make a group for Ableton users who are willing to put in 1 hour a day of music production & share their successes, struggles & snippets of music publicly.
Knowing the resistance most people have to making music, even though they deeply want to accomplish so much more than they currently do, I wanted a group that would both inspire & put a fire under your ass.
The only difference between a professional in my eyes, is someone who is able to battle away creative resistance on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter weather your work is amazing or shit, it’s that you sat down and got to work. Everyone creates shit. It’s just that some of us create enough to have some gems as well. Or have build enough experience to turn a turd into a gem.
I have personally failed miserably at this in the past. In fact I went years without making any music that I was willing to share. This was followed by losing confidence that I even had it in me any more. I’m sure this has happened to many of you as well.
I realize that teaching you how Ableton works & giving you detailed lessons & walkthroughs isn’t enough on it’s own for most of you. You need a place you can go where music is always happening & so-so ideas are being developed into great pieces of music every day. You need to see that it’s regular people like you who are getting off their ass & making things happen for themselves. This is the main reason I created the Producer’s Playground
Daily action is 100 times more powerful than learning techniques, tips & skills. By putting in the time, you force yourself to come up with solutions you didn’t previously have the willpower to overcome. You also find that when you do look outside yourself for answers, you tend to get back to work much more quickly. You have shit to finish, you can’t be prancing around pretending to be a producer by just watching vids one after the other for eternity. Sure, go get some inspiration, but get your ass back to work!
Things I’ve learned in a week
Like I said above, I started this practice of working on music 1 hour a day for a week. I’ve concurred procrastination & resistance every day without fail, often putting in up to 5 hours in a day.
1. Quit while you’re ahead. This will put you in a place of excitement for the next day instead of coming back to something you already hate. Very important discovery.
2. Knowing what creating is Not. Sound design, organizing, listening to music for inspiration & letting your 16 bar loop play over and over is not making music. Do all this stuff outside of your 1 hour per day. You need to be creating music & working on the arrangement consistently. Anything else is just a form of resistance disguised as work. Don’t do it.
3. Share your work. Sharing your work publicly, whether it’s good or bad is a powerful motivator. If it’s good, you get to bask in the props you get form others, and if it’s bad, you get constructive suggestions. You are also motivated to show this song who’s boss the next day.
4. No cheat days. Working extra time one day, so you can take the next day off doesn’t work. You’ll just end up falling off the wagon. I can guarantee that. No matter how much time you put in on a given day, you still own 1 hour the next day. If you have a laptop, or even a smart phone, you have no excuse to not be making some form of music, wherever you are.
5. Working early. Working first thing when you get up seems to give the best results. The day hasn’t yet sent you in a million directions & distracted your focus. If you have to go to a job early, you might want to consider hitting the bed an hour earlier to give yourself that peaceful morning time to work without distraction. If you’ve got a decent pair of headphones, you won’t be waking up your house either. You can always come back to your music later and tighten up the mix in your studio monitors, but do whatever you can to put in the time.
6. Big Benefits. When you work every day, you tend to work faster & complete songs much faster as well. Your problem solving skills are boosted significantly. In 7 days I am already into completing my 3rd track. For anyone who has known me in years past, this is enormous!
7. Feedback buddy. It’s important to get continued feedback from a friend who is knowledgeable about the style of music you are going for. Don’t seek feedback from people who won’t be honest with you. It may boost your ego, but not your skills or your sound. Think of the 1 hour group as a support center & motivator, but have someone you know check out your work & progress.
8. Don’t reinvent the wheel. When you nail a sound you are going for, keep the template for future songs. This way you can get up and running on a new song much more quickly. What I tend to do is have a starter beat that sounds good, spend time on a new bassline (using the same sound in the beginning) & then fine tune things by EQing or finding a better sound for your new track if it’s not working. No reason to reinvent the wheel every time. It’ll help you develop your unique sound & it will continue to evolve as well.
How to get involved (it’s totally Free)
I’ve set up a post on my Ableton Facebook page where you can post your daily progress & check out the work of the others in the group. There are a few basic rules to follow:
1. You must link your song snippets (30 seconds to a couple minutes) through Soundcloud, bandcamp or your own server. People will want to play your song from inside facebook, so please don’t put up a download link or it’ll be removed. You are simply going to post in the comment section below the post.
2. To make things easier, make sure to put the days date on your comment.
3. Also let people know how you spent your hour. What did you work on? Were there any challenges? Any techniques or insights that might be helpful to others?
4. Do not post songs that you didn’t work on that day. That’s a different group altogether. This is not a forum to pimp your songs, it’s to show what you are working on now.
5. Make sure to support others by listening, liking & commenting on other song snippets. This is a community. It’s not all about you. The more you put in, the more you can expect to get out of it.
Here’s the link below:
There is no end time in site, so you can join any time, unless I post a follow up saying otherwise. I plan to let this run as long as it will run. I’m curious to see who falls like dominoes & who stays the course. From my 1 week experience, this has probably been the single most effective production technique I’ve tried. It’s not easy, but that’s why there are Pros and Amateurs.
Happy music making,
Thanks for the inspiration Jason. Keep up the good work!