The most important habit for finishing songs
I’ve written a number of blogs with my tips for finishing songs in the past & if you haven’t read any of them I suggest you go through my blog archives.
Today I want to make it so straight forward & so simple that there is really no way to misunderstand this tip. We have all used this habit to some extent but we don’t realize what we are missing when songs aren’t getting done any more.
Maybe you feel you’ve got pretty good studio habits & you are regularly taking time out of your schedule to make writing songs a priority. That is great. If you are there, you are better than most of us, however, how many songs have you finished?
If you are like me, you have a huge pile of unfinished work. They all started off good but you ran into a glitch. Something wasn’t working or you didn’t know where to go next. Now there it sits, a never ending 16 bar loop. Don’t worry, I’ve got a huge stack too.
I’ve found 1 magic bullet that works every time (unless you spontaneously combust in the process). It might not be pretty, but the road to success rarely is.
Ok, so here is where you get to make a choice. You have a bunch of unfinished work on your hard drive & you have an idea brewing in your head. Figure out which idea should take priority & get to work. Creative multitasking rarely works & in most cases will keep you from getting anything completed. Think about it. What have you accomplished that didn’t require you to prioritize, focus & work at until it’s done?
I know your argument. “What if this song just isn’t working?”
Tough shit. You chose it. You finish it. Maybe it will be great & maybe it will suck. Your job is to do the best you can and then let it go. This is a new habit you’re building & I’m sure you are quite aware that when you try something new, you are going to suck at it. Although doing your best is a concern, the actual outcome shouldn’t be. Here’s why…
What you are doing now is not “cranking out hits”… yet. You are building a habit of going up against one frustration after another and getting yourself over the hurdle each time. As you do this process over and over your brain will better be able to problem solve because you will have more experience at dealing with it. Do this 10 or 20 times & you’ll probably find that what previously was a problem is no longer an issue. Of course as you get better, you will likely give yourself new challenges to face. That’s fine, because you will never return to that place you started.
Am I suggesting creative torture?
Not at all when you think about it.
What is more painful?
The frustration of getting over a hurdle or the regret of letting that hurdle beat you like it beat every other 2nd rate artist?
Chip away at the mountain
I’m not suggesting that you lock yourself in a room & don’t eat until you are done with your masterpiece. What I am suggesting is that you choose your song wisely & take your focus away from every other unfinished idea you have. They can wait. Work on this song consistantly. Set aside just 5 minutes everyday. Most of the time if you can get yourself started, you’ll have the momentum you need to keep going for a while. Perhaps if you can get your 5 minutes done you can commit to another 15 minutes without distraction. No Facebook or Twitter, just working on your music. Remind yourself that you can take a break or stop after the 15 minutes is up, or you can recommit to another 15 minutes.
Try to do this everyday. Start with 5 minutes & go from there. If you feel the need to look up techniques, tell yourself you can do it after you’ve put in the time you’ve committed to.
The first song might take you a week, or a month. It doesn’t matter. The time would have passed anyway, only now, you’ll have a finished piece of work to show for it. It might not be perfect, but nothing ever is. Learn from it and you’ll find the next song goes a little faster, & the one after that, even faster.
Doing it publicly
I’ll be putting this to work myself & sharing the results. It would be a good idea to publicly share that you’ll be finishing a new song. This way you’re friends will hold you accountable and give extra motivation to getting it done. If your finished results aren’t to your full satisfaction, you can always label your finished song as a “demo”. If you would like, you can sign up for the forums to share your progress, ask questions or get help with certain obstacles you face.
As always, I hope this helps you accomplish more & improve on skills you need work on. There is no easy way to get good at completing songs, so you might as well choose that first song and get started right away.
Happy music making,
With that said, 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
You can also Check out the: 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!
Another bit of great advice. It’s like in baseball, swinging the bat or throwing the ball: follow through! At least if you miss the ball, you have practiced taking a good swing! … Now to that ugly pile of unfinished gems!
Great advice from a guy who gets things done!
2 BIG DISCOVERIES made recently that have changed everything for me (before everything sounded like shit and I was getting depressed and couldn’t finish tracks):
1. Use SATURATOR plug-ins on almost every track at the recording stage. Nomad Factory’s “MAGNETIC” brings each track to life, also Sound Toys “Decapitator”. These are new plug-ins that will change your life. Just get the Nomad Factory Bundle. period.
2. Reset EQ8 default to “high quality”. For 5 years, I was running Ableton’s EQ8 in its default mode which is “low quality”. I took all the courses, read every book I could find on Live, but found this VERY IMPORTANT DETAIL hidden in a youtube video.
EQ8 Permanent Fix:
Load a blank EQ8 into a channel. Right click on top of EQ8, in drop box click on “high quality”, then click “Save as Default Preset”.
My pile of unfinished gems is bigger than yours all together, guys! Would be even a progress to get to this never ending 16bar loop, never made it beyond 4 bars…
Thanks for the tips, Jason. Please keep them coming.
great advice that i will definitely be putting to use! thanks!
Nice one Jason! Totally inspiring and, a kick in the butt too…
“Tough shit. You chose it. You finish it.”
These could be the best 6 words of advice I’ve ever received.
Thanks Jason 🙂