Today we need to address the elephant in the room.
No not your obsession with plugins (if you have more than 3 EQ plugins raise your hand!) but rather the unfortunate reality that takes shape in almost every recording or mixing environment at some point or another – you’re no longer having fun.
I’ve seen it happen in my own life and in those of thousands of my students. The slow but steady slip away from the reason you got into music making in the first place.
And what replaces that joy of music making? Usually the obsession with making flawless recordings.
It’s so subtle that many of us don’t notice until it’s too late. And ironically this “zapping of fun” actually harms the final product. And that’s the scary part.
Perfect Is The Enemy Of Good
Can I be honest with you for a moment? I’m a perfectionist – and it drives me crazy!
I’m the kind of guy who, for example, once created my own 100 pushups-a-day for 100 days challenge, missed only 3 days (due to illness) and felt I had completely failed.
I did it 97% of the way (a passing grade in virtually any classroom environment) but to me it was as if I had done none of it.
What is the point of doing it if I don’t do it perfectly?!
Ah the lie of perfectionism. That harsh inner critic that always demands flawless execution or nothing.
Maybe you don’t suffer from this personality trait (at least not to the degree I do), but perhaps you’ve had a more subtle shift in your thoughts and feelings regarding music making.
When you first started out recording and mixing, you likely jumped in because of one simple thing…you wanted to capture and share your music with the world!
And the reason?
Because that would be super fun of course!
Ah fun – the best (and perhaps only) reason to make music.
So you jump on Google or YouTube, search for what equipment you need for your little home studio and start setting things up.
Once you bought the gear you realized you didn’t know how to use the stuff so you hoped back online and got some helpful free tutorials on how to record a song from scratch.
You might have even decided it was time to learn how to mix your music yourself so it sounds more radio-ready.
Pretty soon you’re writing, recording, mixing, and releasing your own music with the world and having a blast doing it! And you know what? It all sounds pretty good.
But it doesn’t sound perfect.
Hmm, that’s a problem.
Getting Off Track Is Frightfully Easy
So perhaps you started digging deeper into some resources to find out what is the missing link between your recordings and the standard of musical excellence you have in your head.
A quick search online will bring up some interesting results.
Articles and forum posts suggesting that upgrading your converters or audio interface is the secret abound.
The same is true with the “better” plugins myth.
Soon you find yourself either spending gobs of money on new gear that in the end doesn’t seem to make your recordings sound any better (hmmm, that’s interesting) or you simply exhaust yourself with endless Google searches, product reviews, and silly internet debates.
At some point you “wake up” only to find the process of recording and mixing music is no longer that fun.
It’s more about making the tracks sound as good as possible – and when they don’t, you’re discouraged.
Or maybe what got you off track was the “business” of music making.
Perhaps you got smart and realized that you actually can make a living off of your home studio by freelancing and recording or mixing other bands and artists.
Soon you’re earning $500, $1000, or even more a month on the side using your gear and audio know-how. Sweet!
But then over time you might find that music making is only about earning money or keeping the client happy.
I’ve seen this happen first hand multiple times.
The first time was in my college internship at a massive $5 Million studio in Virginia. All the engineers (and other interns) were running around like chickens with their heads cut off, stressed to the max every day trying to get bands in and out, and sessions executed flawlessly.
After 6 months of this frenzy where everyone wore a frown on their face I said to myself: I thought music making was supposed to be fun. If this is what it’s like to work here, I’m out!
And so I was.
And the good news for you? You can “get out” as well.
Going Back To The Start
Have you ever felt like that? Like there was no more fun in your music making?
If so, you must know that you’re not alone.
You also need to know that you don’t need to say in that metaphorical place. You can go back to the start of your music making journey, when it WAS truly about the joy of creating.
Let me give you three simple ways…
#1 – Go listen to some great music.
Seriously, open up your absolute favorite album or mix of songs and put it on repeat. Go for a walk, jog, or ride, and listen in headphones. Just get in a place of music enjoyment as a listener, not an artist.
Great music, music that we LOVE, is what got us into this crazy home studio world. So when the fun dries up, go back to the source: other people’s music!
#2 – Sell one piece of gear.
There’s an amazing psychological thing that happens when you sell stuff. It no longer has power over you.
The moment you sell a microphone you rarely use, or a preamp that just looks pretty, you loosen your grip on gear and a rush of freedom and creativity comes flooding back into your brain.
#3 – Help a friend record or mix THEIR music
Whenever I’m in a funk, it’s usually because of one thing and one thing only: I’m thinking about myself too much.
So, when that happens I try to go and help someone else with something that’s important to them. You can do the same.
Hit up one of your musician friends and offer to help record or mix or master a song for them. It’ll make their day, you’ll have fun, and you might have some killer collaborative sessions!
How Do YOU Get The Fun Back?
Recently one of my students emailed me and said something that made my day.
I can’t thank you enough for helping me recover the passion and love that I feel for my retaken hobby, something which, to be quite frank, was becoming quite frustrating because I was really confused about how to use everything I acquired. My wife Martha asked me to thank you on her behalf because she says you returned the joy into my eyes. – Hugh W. (Recording Revolution Student)
Absorbing my content had helped to restore his joy for making music! That’s what I want for you!
Now, I’m curious to hear from you.
I would love for you to share one or two ways you’ve found to be effective for bringing the fun back to music making by leaving a comment below.
I’m sure it will encourage others. And THAT my friends is what this website is all about!