A little over 90 days ago I had zero new songs written – and I was frustrated. Today I am releasing a brand new EP that I’m super proud of.
What happened 3 months ago that made the turn around? And how can you apply those principles to YOUR music? That’s what I want to discuss today – but first – will you do me a huge favor?
Will you download my EP?
So please, if you like the music, be generous as your money will go directly to providing food, shelter, and medical care for the thousands of Haitians who lost everything in hurricane Matthew a few weeks ago.
Thanks in advance – now on to the lessons!
Lesson #1 – Deadlines Are Like A Magic Wand
Usually when I write and record new music, I set some kind of deadline. I have a plan (or a challenge) that I’m subjecting myself to.
But after my last EP I decided things would be different. This time I was going to let inspiration be my guide! No silly deadlines or forced creativity.
Great idea – except for one thing. No inspiration (or magical pockets of time) came my way.
Have you ever been there? Just hoping (or believing naively) that “one day” you’ll have gobs of time to sit in peace and quiet and just create? Welcome to the club.
I knew I wanted to write and release new music this year (I do it every year) but one day in the middle of July I found myself staring at the calendar, the year half way over, and with no music to show for it.
I knew something needed to change. I needed the dreaded “D” word – a deadline!
So I set one – publicly! I got on Facebook and announced to our private Dueling Mixes group that I was going to write, record, mix, and release a new EP in the next 3 months.
A deadline is great – but a PUBLIC deadline is even better!
Publicly announcing a plan or deadline is powerful, because it creates accountability (mostly due to the fear of shame!) – but there’s something more than that.
Deadlines are actually like a magic wand. “How so?” you ask.
Within 24 hours of me posting that deadline on Facebook I had written my first song for the EP. Just one day!
It had been exactly 547 days since I released my previous EP, let alone written those songs, and all without writing any new music. All it took after creating a deadline was 1 day to write something – and something good!
It gets better – the next day I wrote a second song!
And two days later I wrote a third song!!
Magic I tell you.
I know deadlines get a bad wrap. They seem to stifle creativity and force you do make music that maybe isn’t that good.
But I can only tell you that from my experience over the past 15+ years of writing and releasing music in a variety of bands and solo projects, deadlines are the single most powerful and magical tool at your disposal to not only get music made, but GOOD music.
Now – if deadlines are the magic wand that helps you get going, the next lesson is the finesse move that helps you do GREAT work.
Lesson #2 – Don’t Let Anything Distract You From The Song
Having a deadline is the first step. But once you dive in to the writing, recording, and mixing process of your music you’ll inevitably hit many roadblocks.
Typically they come in the form of decision making.
What microphone should I use on my vocals? What EQ plugin should mix with? Should I record at 44.1khz or 96k for my sample rate?
The truth is, none of these decisions really will make a lick of difference on the final result. They are simply time wasters (if you let the decision linger that is).
How can I say that?
It’s simple – great recordings are all about great songs. If the song is good, and the performance of that song is good, you’ll be in good shape.
But ironically, even if you have a great song and are a talented performer, if you let these “decisions” distract you from the song, you’ll lose your creative mojo and the recording will suffer.
The paradox of choice, the tyranny of too many decisions, it all hampers you from focusing on the song. And it’s all about the song!
This almost happened to me on this project because of drums.
My drummer (and good friend Logan) moved away and I was trying to schedule time to fly up to Virginia, bring my rig, and record some drums there.
But with life as it is (family, church, multiple businesses) I simply couldn’t fit it in.
I had written the songs, was ready to go, but had to pump the brakes on the recording process. All because I couldn’t find time to get together with my drummer.
In the back of my head I knew I had an alternative – EZ drummer.
But I didn’t want to use a virtual drum program. I wanted to use real drums. I always use real drums (well except that one time).
As the days crept on, my excitement for the songs begin to slip. No good.
I made a somewhat bold and scary (to me) executive decision to forgo real drums this time and instead build the tracks with EZ Drummer.
I can’t believe it but I used EZ Drummer for this EP!
The result? I was able to begin recording right away. Drums were done in a matter of days, then bass, guitars, vocals, and the rest all followed quickly.
In the end, I’m proud of how the tracks turned out and I feel they are just as good as real drums. But you’ll be the judge of that I suppose.
The point is – the SONGS are what mattered. Not if I used a real drummer, or a plugin. Heck, I didn’t even use real amps on this record for my guitar or bass parts!
There are so many decisions you and I have to make when recording our own music that it’s easy to get distracted from the main thing – the songs.
And when we do, we lose inspiration. We move from creativity land to technician land. And since recording is an art form, not a science, this is a non-starter in my book.
Release A New EP In The Next 3 Months
There you have it – two critical lessons to help you release new music in record time:
- Deadlines are magic – they force you to succeed
- Non-song related decisions steal away your inspiration and creativity – don’t let them.
So I have a challenge for you. Will you write, record, mix, and release a new 3-6 song EP in the next 3 months? Why not?
If you decide to accept that challenge, leave a comment below and share when your “release” date will be!
And finally, I want to thank you for supporting Haiti relief by downloading my new EP. Go listen to the songs, name your price, and download. Your support of even $5 will make a huge difference in the life of someone you’ll never meet!