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Written by Ramsey Brown.
A musician’s creative process is a constant battle between too many good ideas and not enough resources and motivation to see them through the finish line. As an artist or producer, it’s inevitable that you will fall into a creative rut at one point or another. However, only those who are able to pull themselves out and keep pushing their music forward are the ones who end up on top.
After spending so much time on a single track, staring at the same computer screen for hours, it’s normal for artists to jump around from project to project. However, this creates a big issue and one that I see far too often among recording artists — not finishing songs.
Why is this such a problem? Well, simply because there has never been a hit record that was only halfway completed. People also don’t want to listen to music that is only partially finished. Getting started on a new song or project is easy. Finishing and releasing it for the world to hear and enjoy is not as easy as some may think.
The process of making a great song can certainly be a long and hefty one. It’s common for artists to hit a creative roadblock and become frustrated to the point where they give up and move on to a different track. If you are a creative person reading this article, I'm sure you have done this plenty of times and told yourself “I’ll come back to it”.
If this is a familiar scenario, ask yourself how many times you actually came back to finish the song? And did you finish it to the point where it was ready for release? I’m not trying to throw shade, but this is a common problem among creatives and one that needs to be addressed.
When artists say things like “I’ll come back to that song” or “I’ll finish that track a different day” — more often than not it’s just a deceptive statement they tell themselves. Even though they may have every good intention of finishing the project eventually, typically it will be forgotten about, thrown into the archives, and never gets completed.
The problem with not finishing one song is that it can easily become a repeated behavior. Before you know it, you will start multiple projects and never fully complete any of them. It is definitely an easy habit to fall into, and most of the time artists don’t even realize they are becoming victims to this bad habit.
It starts off casually — you’re working on a project and then you discover a new, more exciting idea. You put your current project aside and tell yourself that you will get back to it later.
As you are working on your new idea, you run into some challenges. Maybe it doesn’t flow like you want it to or maybe you can't find the right lyrics to fit the melody. Now that you’ve hit a creative roadblock, you decide to set that project aside and ‘get back to it later’.
As excuses are made, this cycle repeats. Before you know it, you are in the habit of abandoning projects and your hard drive becomes full of half-finished ideas.
When you don’t have any fully finished songs, you have nothing new to upload and share with your fans. When you have nothing new to share with your fans, your retention rate of keeping them on your platform drops exponentially. And when you have no fans, you essentially have no chance of sustaining your music career.
Did you know that on Spotify alone, there are 60,000 new songs uploaded to the platform every single day? The music industry is becoming more and more competitive as we speak. If you are not finishing and releasing new music regularly, your fans will become bored and shift their attention to other artists who are putting out new songs consistently.
If you are not finishing songs for whatever reason that you are telling yourself in your head, at least do it for the sake of your fans. Because I can promise you that the song you released back in 2019 is not going to keep them around forever.
In the grand scheme of things, your music is your business and represents your brand. If you are hiring a contracting business to do work on your house, what would you think about the company if they only halfway finished the job?
Making music is very much a collaborative effort. If you're working with another artist on a project, you’re expected to complete your portion of that track in a timely manner. If you are unable to finish the task you were brought on for, it’s likely that you will get dropped from the record entirely and they will never ask to work with you again.
Don’t forget that the music industry is largely operative on word of mouth. Once one person sees that you are unable to deliver a song on time, it can result in you seeming lazy, unreliable, unmotivated, or uncaring about other people’s time. Although this may not be true, this stigma could follow you around your career and discredit your entire artist image.
Not finishing music can have a hugely negative impact on your career. If you want to grow as a successful artist or producer, completing songs is non-negotiable. Which is exactly why you need to break this behavior of not finishing songs once and for all.
Easier said than done, right? We know it is difficult to dedicate yourself to completing a track. In fact, finishing a track is probably the hardest part of making music. But when you are not seeing your song through the end, you are essentially avoiding the difficult but necessary process involved in being an artist or producer.
It’s through that process and the effort behind it when you really become a better creator. Often, the lack of completion that producers or artists face comes from a (subconscious or even conscience) fear of embracing difficulty. But in any life situation, working through the difficulties and challenging yourself is the number one way to grow and get better.
Now that you realize the importance of finishing your music, as well as the negative impacts of not finishing your music, it’s time to get into how you can actually solve this problem. Once you become aware of a bad habit, you can then begin taking steps to improving and overcoming it.
Which is why we are going to provide you with 6 brilliant secrets to help you finish your songs faster. Below you will find tips and tricks to help train your brain into becoming a more efficient and overall better musician. Take note!
One of the most beneficial and time-saving things you can do when making music is to have a plan in place before going into the studio. Instead of free-styling your studio session, have a well throughout itinerary of what you want to actually accomplish while you are there.
Oftentimes artists will get into a session with no real idea of what they want to do. Small things like picking out the beat you want to work on, or choosing the topic you want to write about beforehand will make a big difference in your productivity.
Having a measurable goal or plan is the key to studio success. It’s unlikely (although not impossible) that an artist will write, record, and master an entire song in one sitting. You know how you work best — so break down the song into smaller segments and knock out the track piece by piece.
By breaking down the song into smaller parts and finishing those parts separately, it will help you hone in your attention and creativity more effectively. If you set an objective to finish the melody and chorus only, then you can focus on just that — not thinking about writing the verse in the back of your mind.
Then, you can set a goal for your next sessions moving forward so that you can keep the same momentum rolling. At the end of the first session, set a specific objective that you want to focus on next time at the studio. If you worked on the melody and chorus during the first session, work on the hook and/or verses during the next session.
When it’s time to make music, you need to have zero distractions in order to direct your full creative potential into the project. I know that most everyone is attached to their phone nowadays (I’m guilty of this too) but, you will truly be amazed at how much you can get done when you are not constantly checking your messages or aimlessly scrolling through Instagram.
Not only is your phone a huge distraction, but the people around you during the session can be a distraction too. It’s common for artists to want to have their friends present when they are recording. They can often help inspire your work or they can either help you become distracted from your work.
Be conscious of who you have around you when it’s time to get serious and make music. If someone is at the studio just to chit-chat and take photos for the gram, you probably don’t want to invite them back. If they are there helping you write and are keeping you on point, then those are the people you do want around you at the studio.
Whether you realize it or not, everyone who enters the studio brings a vibe with them. When you are recording, the vibe of those around you can certainly affect your own vibe and the outcome of the song. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, so just be aware of it. Don’t let anything or anyone distract you when creating music, it is a waste of your time and money.
If you are someone who works out of your home studio, this trick is one of the main ways to help you get projects done faster. Your studio is your creative sanctuary. Therefore, you want to make sure everything about it is organized in a way to help you create the best work possible.
Organization isn't just about keeping your area clean and tidy, but everything on your computer that you need to produce music as well. The more organized your folders, files, libraries and sessions the faster you'll work. Delete plugins you never use. Make sure your samples are logically named and quickly accessible, as well as your favorite synths and presets.
Working on projects with tracks labeled ‘Audio 5 Melodic Type Beat’ will not help you produce or make music faster. Too many times I’ve been at a studio and watched an artist use up 10-20 minutes of the session just to find the track or instrumental they are looking for.
Get into the habit of naming your tracks in a way that makes sense as you create them, then placing them in a folder that is also named and dated so that you can easily find it when needed.
If you are reading this article, you are probably a music creator of some sort. So I shouldn’t even have to tell you that overthinking and overanalyzing is the death of creativity. As a songwriter and blog writer myself, this is the one thing I am most guilty of as well.
Most of the time, this comes down to having high expectations of yourself and having high standards for your work — which is great, don't get me wrong. However, there is a fine line between having extremely high standards and having unrealistic standards — or AKA, being a perfectionist.
The key to moving away from perfectionism is to lower your standards. Often artists set such high standards for their songs because they want to uphold a certain public image. Releasing music is a vulnerable thing to do and it’s easy to slip into negative self-talk or thinking like, what if people hate my song? What if they think I’m a terrible artist?
You’ve got to understand that you are your biggest critic. Most listeners won't be as obsessed with that second layer of your mid-bass as you might be. Perfectionism and overly high standards can set unnecessary pressure on yourself. Which can then poison your creative process entirely.
When you are able to relieve yourself of unnecessary pressure and unrealistic standards, that is when you will truly get into your creative flow and begin cranking out songs like never before.
If you’re the creative type like me, nothing lights a fire up under me quicker than an upcoming deadline. Even though I may wait until the night before the deadline to get the task done, having a set date puts the necessary pressure on me to actually complete my projects.
This is especially helpful when you are announcing to your fans and the public that you are going to do something such as ‘dropping a new single this Friday’. Public embarrassment can be a fantastic motivator to finish music faster and you never want to disappoint or not deliver to your audience.
Once you set a release date and announce it publicly, you are automatically holding yourself accountable to finishing that project by a certain time. Post your upcoming release on your socials and just see how fast you'll work to get it done.
Just like in school when learning to write papers and essays, it was always taught to create a rough draft first and then go back to clean it up after. This is the same with making music. It allows the process to go smoother and faster when you put all your creativity out there as it comes to you first instead of critiquing every little idea as it comes to you.
If you are writing lyrics to a song, blurt them out or write them down as soon as you think of them. Don’t stop after every line to ask yourself if it makes sense or if it rhymes exactly. When you begin to critique things too soon, it can quickly stunt your creativity.
Let your thoughts and artistic feelings flow when you are making music. Your first take or your first idea will often be your best one. Put out as much substance as you can into your track first, then after you are done, go back and begin critiquing and cleaning it up. When you find your flow in the studio, it’s important to do everything you can to stay in it.
Don’t allow yourself to overthink small things and interrupt the current vibe you are on. Always vocalize or produce your first initial ideas because you can always go back and re-record or re-write those ideas, if you choose to do so.
As you now hopefully understand, not finishing one song can have a hugely negative ripple effect. By leaving a few songs unfinished, you are unintentionally but ultimately setting yourself up for failure throughout your career.
Not finishing a song or two becomes a much larger problem beyond the actual song(s) itself. It’s important to realize and acknowledge this so you can make the necessary steps to fix the habit it becomes. We realize that finishing a track is the hardest part of making the track. But if you set a goal for yourself to finish something that you started, you will be amazed at how great you will feel afterwards.
If you find that you have a problem with finishing your projects after reading this article (most creatives struggle with this problem) then we recommend that you begin centering your accountability around a plan or goal. If you have 12 great songs that aren’t finished quite yet — start by making a plan to finish one of those 12 tracks per week, until they are all finished.
Next thing you know, in 3 months you will have an entire completed album ready to be released. By utilizing the array of strategies that we have mentioned, you see that finishing your music will become a breeze. Remember, nothing easy is worth having and the only obstacle is yourself. So keep pushing!
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© 2023 Omari MC, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
© 2023 Omari MC, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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