Releasing an album, EP, or even a single the right way takes loads of planning and effort. First there’s the hard work of writing and recording music, and then there’s the tedious business of making sure your music gets heard through promotion efforts. But how can an artist stay productive during the inevitable downtime between releases? Try as you might, you can’t make music 100% of your waking life, but what you do with your time after a big music release will lay the creative foundation for your next musical endeavor. Here’s four tips for making your time between releases productive:
No matter how talented or experienced you are, there will always be room to grow and evolve in your work as a musician. Whether it’s vocal lessons or instruction aimed at helping you master a new instrument, taking music lessons during your creative downtime can bring lasting benefits. This applies to performers as well as songwriters. Sharpening musical skills or acquiring new ones through music lessons can help set you on a musical path you’ve never gone down before. It can be a little humbling to enroll in music lessons if you have years of experience and success under your belt, but humility is a trait many musicians can benefit from.
Creative writing exercises
Focusing on creative writing during your musical downtime can help your music career whether you’re a lyricist or a heavy metal drummer. Both music and writing can be forms of creative communication, and funneling your creative energy into writing can shake loose musical ideas and give you a new perspective on your work. Exercises like free writing, writing continuously without concern for grammar, spelling, or content, helps break down a person’s creative and intellectual barriers to get to the core of their thoughts. What you create when you write won’t always directly translate to your music, but it can help clarify your feelings, inspire you, or lead you to themes you’ll later explore through your music.
Spend time alone out in nature
Being crammed in a van while touring or confined to a tiny music studio for weeks at a time can crush a musician’s soul. One of the best ways to recharge and find new musical inspiration is by going out into nature by yourself. Turn your phone off, leave your laptop at home, and be silent for a while somewhere scenic. You might find that you’re riddled with anxiety or intoxicated by what you find in your surroundings. There’s value in your experience no matter what it is. Instead of ignoring your feelings, try to lean into them and understand what they mean. Making time to do this can be a rejuvenating break from your music or the beginnings of your next creative effort.
It can be hard to tear yourself away from your musical routine if you’ve been hard at work on a project for an extended period of time. But making the effort to take care of yourself and grow as a musician during your downtime will help you as a musician and as a person.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.