As 2011 comes to a close, you have to ask yourself the question: How much music did I make this year? Whether you are primarily a musician trying to record your own material, or an engineer trying to produce other peoples’ music, the question is the same. How much did you actually record, edit, mix, and release in the past 12 months?
If the answer is disappointing (that you didn’t produce much after all), then you need to assess what went wrong this year. Were you just not writing much music? Were there not many clients? Or perhaps, you were distracted in your studio time doing other things like troubleshooting, re-organizing, or drooling over new gear. If it’s more of the latter, then I’d like to (If I may) offer some suggestions for the coming New Year.
Via Sean MacEntee Flickr
It’s All About The Music
No matter what anyone says, recording and mixing in the studio at any level is always about the music. If you truly care about the music you’re recording or you care about making a living off of producing the music you’re making for someone else, then you have to elevate the music above all else. This means not focusing on the wrong things like gear, or peoples’s weird opinions.
If you are spending too much time wondering what gear you need to take your music to the next level, or what technique will totally make your mixes 100% better than you are off track. Rather decide right here and now that you won’t devote nearly as much energy on studio related pursuits that don’t actually get you making more music. It’s just not worth it.
You Need To Set Deadlines
One of the best truths you’ll ever learn in life is that limitations actually make us more productive. Fewer choices actually help us make better decisions and get more done. And this includes our time. If you impose deadlines on your music making it won’t suck the life and passion out of you. Rather it will ironically squeeze more creativity and productivity out of you and you’ll be happier for it.
Why not take the One Song One Month Challenge and produce 12 songs this year. Your album will be done by this time next year! Or go the EP route and follow my step by step plan to record and release a new EP 6 months from now. Whatever you do, just make a plan and stick to it. Seriously, by simply finishing a project (even one song) you’ll get better as engineer. Just finish something!
Invest In Your Skill
As fun as it is to believe that next piece of gear or DAW upgrade will make your mixes better, the truth remains that investing in your self and your craft is always a better option. This can be as simple as committing to read my blog (and others like it) every week for the whole year. Soak up as much knowledge and tips as you can. It could mean reading more books on recording and mixing, or getting more technical and studying the science of audio (if you like that kind of stuff). It could even mean attending a workshop or getting some formal audio training via a school or video course/tutorial.
But let’s get even simpler. By simply doing more recording and mixing next year you’ll be gaining valuable insight and knowledge. The more I record and mix, the more mistakes I make (and learn not to make again), and the more techniques and workflows I develop and comprehend. Just get out there and make music and you can’t help but get better at it.
Make This Year Count
Music is an incredible thing. Clearly you have a passion for it, or you wouldn’t be here today. Clearly you want to present your music in the most professional way possible. So why not commit to making this next year count in a huge way by making the absolute best music you can possibly make, no matter what it takes. No more believing the myths and the hype. Just getting down to the nitty gritty and making it happen. You can do it!