How to become a more efficient Producer
When it comes to music production, many producers find themselves stuck, seemingly doing tons of work toward their goals & yet find they aren’t any closer to reaching those goals.
Whether you want to be a famous DJ producer or just get your first few tracks singed to a label & released, there seems to be something in the way.
I am going to assert that it is your focus & your chosen actions that may seem to be productive but ultimately isn’t.
As a music maker, if you are like most, your goal is probably to release more quality music & build your fanbase.
Would you agree that any activities that aren’t getting you one result or the other is largely a waste of your time & energy? If so, then the million dollar question is, “Why do you continue to do those things?”.
A fair response is that you simply never looked at each action your were taking & became aware of which were your most productive & which were your least productive actions.
Cleaning up your actions is much like cleaning up your house. If you are going through your stuff, each item you come across would fit into 1 of three categories…
Keep & organize
Store or give away
Using the same approach, we need to organize our actions towards our music goals. Here is a concept I learned in business from a guy named Jesse Elder & it similarly applies to your music goals.
1. The work
2. The Business
3. The Busy
If we look at our music career as a business, we can much more easily identify the useful from the not so useful. So let’s first define these categories.
The Work: These are the things you have to do as an artist, first & foremost, to have anything else you do make sense. This is your art or your “product”.
The Business: This is what you do with the work that insures your art finds the people who need to hear it. It also involves developing the skills needed to consistently do the work efficiently.
The Busy: This is what we tend to spend most of our time doing & it has very low, if any, returns on your investment of time & energy. This is where most people get stuck & wonder why they are just spinning their wheels.
If you want to be a more successful artist, you need to identify each action you make toward your goals so let identify the activities that are either moving your forward or keeping you stuck.
The Busy (or what I like to call “the Bullshit”) would be any of the following actions we get lost on. This would include:
1. Scouring, posting & debating in groups & forums. This is a huge waste of time, usually spent with others who also aren’t reaching their goals. There are a number of intelligent people in these group, who are an endless stream of “information”, but they are generally just attempting to stroke their egos by getting their opinions across. This often also coincides with slagging off other artists, tools or approaches.
Who cares what the best compressor is if you don’t know why, when & how to use a compressor in the first place. I’ll save you a LOT of time, the best compressor is the one that you know how to use front & back & gets the job done quickly & easily.
Yes, there are certainly some great free & paid tools, but honestly, I have seen great producers run circles around producers who have all the expensive plugins. Those who tend to have “all the plugins” tend to be collectors because they are afraid of being judged for using the “wrong” tool & spend too much time comparing plugins instead of learns 1 tool really well & getting on to actually making music.
Avoid this addiction at all costs
2. Waiting for reactions. This is such a sinister habit, because it disguises itself as something healthy and necessary. This is rarely the case.
This is very similar to making a post on social media & then checking your notifications every 5 minutes. This is an enormous waste of time & is a sign that you have no confidence in your own unique skills & art.
It really sad to see people who finish something and then stop production cold to wait for someone to “get back” to them. It’s even worse to do this when you are in the middle of a song. The fact is, if you are stuck, it is YOU who needs to get yourself unstuck.
If you want a useful opinion on your music, hire a coach who will give you constructive advise while also holding you accountable to continuing to do the work, even when it feels uncomfortable. Anything less is a crutch to your development & confidence as an artist.
If you can stop both of these “busy” habits & sit with a little artistic discomfort, you will get miles ahead of your competition quickly.
The Business is what you do that helps you insure that the work you are doing actually matters. If someone drops a mixtape in a forest, does it make a sound? The answer is no; no it doesn’t.
It’s important to distinguish whether doing “The Business” is the most effective use of your time in a given moment. You always want to keep in mind that the business is fueled by the “The work”. If you aren’t doing enough of the work, “The Business” becomes “The Busy”.
With this in mind, these are actions that “The Business” would include:
Social media posts. In this day & age, if your fanbase is the pancake, then your social media activity is the batter. It is the lifeblood that keeps you & your art in front of the people who need to hear it.
Unless you have a million dollar promotional team, you can’t really avoid this part of the process if you want to reach your goals. For me, this very post you are reading is me doing “the Business”. Obviously this should be aligned with your personality & shouldn’t feel like work you hate, or you’ll never do it.
This can be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or Soundcloud, among a number of others. To avoid overload & wasting enegy that you need most for doing “The Work” I would focus on just 2 platforms for now.
You should be sharing your music or giving teasers & letting them know when & where it will be available. You should also be sharing pictures, thoughts & “behind the scenes” videos that show people your personality.
You probably don’t want to share on your artist page the same way you share on your personal page. You artist page is your “brand”.
If your “Artist” persona is your “Superman” (or Cat Woman), you get to decide how much of the “Clark Kent” you want to share.
For example, I have my Minimal Techno persona “Jason Timothy” & I also have my Dark Wave, Goth-ish persona “Shhadows”. Although both of these artistic ventures are aspects of my total personality, I separate the 2 in order to avoid confusion.
The Bottom line is stay consistent to your artistic vision when posting. I know several artist who avoid showing their face on their artist page. It’s kinda of the mysterious aesthetic they are going for. When they DO show their face, it’s kind of like a little treat, something special. You can do the same by only occasionally showing a more personal side.
Socializing, Connecting, Promoting. Yes, socializing & partying CAN be and important part of running your “Business”. Making, nurturing & keeping your connections is definitely part of the music game. People should see you out & promoters should see you supporting. Especially the shows that you are not playing.
Nobody is going to want to book someone locally who doesn’t support their scene. Don’t be THAT guy.
On the other hand, you’ve got work to do. You don’t have time to go to every after-party & you don’t need to be the last man standing at every event.
Although the “lifestyle” can seem like “The Work”, it can be a seductive mistress who will kill all your dreams if not careful. Have the integrity to know whether your socializing is “The Business” or just “The Busy”.
There is no real rule to connecting & promoting, except to say that on occasion, you should be reminding people of the work you are currently up to. If you don’t have anything you are currently up to to share, you should probably do less socializing & more work.
Training, Coaching & practice. This is another important aspect of the business in that if you aren’t practicing & improving your skills, not much engaging art is going to come out of you consistently.
Now this can be a tricky subject because there is a fine line between learning as a way to move yourself forward & “learning” as a form of distraction & procrastination.
Like I always say, “information” rarely leads to transformation. This is why it’s usually important to work with someone who has done what you are trying to do & help you avoid the pitfalls, not only with music production, but with all your habits around that.
Many who aren’t reaching their goals are most likely draining their creative energy with menial tasks & not being guided & held accountable.
Training, coaching & practice might be your surest way to insure that your time doing “The Work” is consistently effective. Just understand that this is NOT the work. This is the business.
The Work is actually sitting down and moving your song forward. Nothing else matters if you aren’t finishing songs.
All the socializing, promoting & social media posts are completely worthless if you aren’t doing the work & finishing the music your start consistently.
The work is NOT opening your DAW & listening to your loop for an hour.
The work is NOT watching YouTube videos.
The work is NOT getting someone’s opinion on something.
The work is the work. If you aren’t at least 1% further than you were when you sat down to make music, you aren’t doing the work. Recognize this & stop the pattern. It’s your biggest time & energy suck.
80% of your time should be related to doing “The Work” & only 20% should be “The Business”. Don’t waste your time with “The Busy” as you will never be proud of what that accomplishes.
I hope this has given you clarity & that you are able to apply this to your life today!
If you are benefiting from these posts, you will absolutely love my 2 bestselling books:
The Mental Game of Music Production
The Process for Electronic Music Producers
To level up your Ableton Production Skills: Ableton Courses & Instruments
If you are looking for personal guidance with your music production or Ableton, you can set up a free chat with me to go over exactly what your best next steps are to create the best music of your life. If it seems like a good fit, we can move forward from there. https://musicsoftwaretraining.com/private-coaching
Happy music making!