Just before January 1st I wrote a post about setting some New Year’s REVolutions. In that article I suggested you focus on three areas of change this year: not buying gear without writing new music to warrant it, learning to use the bundled plugins in your DAW, and being open to critique. We are now through the first quarter of 2010 so I thought it would be a good time to do a 3 month check up to evaluate how we’re doing with those changes and to offer some encouragement and advice.

TRR18 3 Month Check Up

Via apox apox Flickr

What is your Cost Per Song?

Since January 1st, how much of your hard earned cash (you did earn it, right?) have you dropped on recording equipment/software? Did you spend $100? $200? $500? How many songs have you written or produced since January 1st? One? Two? Five? If you spent $100 so far and have written 3 songs, then you’re songs are costing you $33 to write and produce. If you’ve spend $500 and written 2 songs, then you’re spending $250 a song. Big difference.

Granted if the purchases come to a halt and you keep making music, your cost per song goes way down. That is a good thing! But as most of us know, it’s way easier to buy gear than it is to write music so we tend to just spend spend spend, thinking we are working towards growing our studio and hopefully allowing for more music making (and potentially better music making) in the future.

If that sounds like you, stop now. Don’t spend another penny until you can justify it with making more music. You have to break the habit!

How many EQs does it take to mix your songs?

You know the old joke, “How many (fill in the blank) does it take to change a light bulb?” Well 3 months in to music making in 2010, how many EQs and compressors are you using in your mixes? Are you just throwing around plugins left and right? Do you know your stock plugins any better than you did last year? I hope the answer is yes.

The only way to learn your plugins (and to stay away from spending more on additional ones) is to limit how many you reach for in a mix and just use the same few over and over again. Learn each parameter intimately. Tweak and listen. Doesn’t sound good? No problem, just change it and listen some more. Then rinse and repeat. No big secret here. These next 3 months, decide to just use one type EQ and compressor when you mix. 90 days from you will have a much better idea of how they operate and sound in your sessions.

Who has heard your work lately?

Have you shared your latest recordings with someone you trust? If not, what are you afraid of? There’s no reason to make music and not share it, especially if you want to get better at both songwriting and recording. If so, did you take their feedback into consideration? I hope so. I know it’s hard to put your self and your creativity out on the line, but if you never hear that you need improvement, then you’ll never improve and only YOU will think that you’re good.

If you’re reading this blog then you probably want to improve your craft, so I feel it’s safe to assume that you don’t think you’ve “arrived” as an artist or engineer. I know that I sure haven’t. I’m always trying to learn and improve. It’s not being weak, it’s being real. It’s being humble. It’s called caring about good music more than your ego.

How did your check up go?

So how did you do? Can I give you a bill of good health this quarter? Are you sticking to those revolutions? Make this the year that you change. Don’t be another gear junky. Don’t be another brand snob. Don’t be another all talk, no music, home studio owner. Draw a line in the sand and make it happen today!

While you’re at it, why don’t you try the One Song One Month Challenge. It’s a simple 5 week challenge designed to walk you through building a song from the ground up. Some easy deadlines can go a long way to helping you be productive and creative!

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