We all know that writing, producing, and recording one song is a ton of work, so it’s fair to ask why it’s worth the trouble of creating multiple versions of your tracks. But between music-hungry audiences, streaming algorithms that favor different versions of the same song, and big creative benefits, it’s worth trying out different approaches for your songs. Here are some of the biggest reasons why:
It helps you get more mileage on streaming platforms
Creating different versions of your most popular songs is a proven way to boost engagement over streaming platforms. The tech behind streaming playlists and song libraries usually directs fans towards new versions of the songs they listen to the most. This means that putting a new spin on an old song will help generate plays and interest in your music. Whether it’s a synth-driven song being played acoustic or a pared down version of a trap song, this is a good strategy for engaging with fans and building on prior successes. Some musicians believe that the music they write and release is set in stone, so this strategy won’t work for them. But if you’re opening to showing different sides of your music, there’s a lot of benefit to putting out multiple versions of your tracks.
You’ll have a better chance at creating the best version of your song if you make multiple versions
It’s worth revisiting old songs with new versions as well as also recording multiple demos of the same song before release. This is because trying out different directions of the same song will help you decide on which approach is best. This is not a new tactic, and artists have been doing this for a long time. The huge benefit here is the exercise of pushing yourself to try out new production techniques, instruments, tempos, key signatures, and musical feels on your tracks. You’ll quickly discover that your song will change drastically from version to version. Sticking with the first approach you take could leave your song undeveloped and far from reaching its full potential. Yes, it’s a lot of extra work to do this, but this benefit alone makes it worth it. The versions that aren’t the best never have to see the light of day again, but they’re always there in case you want to share them with fans or build on them to create new music. Other than the work involved, there is no downside to creating different versions of your songs to explore.
Gives you all the chances you need to get it right
This exercise could show you that you got it right the first time with your song. Or, after three versions, you might discover that your track is better off with a new bridge and re-worked vocal melody. When we explore different versions of our songs, we have more time to perfect and build our music. Some songs are fully formed out of the gate, but so many others need tweaking to get where they need to be. Instead of writing something and calling it a day, creating multiple versions of songs forces us to come to terms with what we don’t like in our music and what we know needs improving. Since you never have to share multiple versions of your songs with your fans, this is a great way to develop your best work.
Provides clarity and direction
Whether it ends up with you sticking with your original vision or straying far away from it, this exercise will end up providing you with lots of clarity for your music. For example, if you’ve been bored with the genres you typically work in, experimenting with new ones over the predictable framework of a familiar song can be a huge help. It’s also the kind of work that’s helpful for affirming when things work and revealing when they don’t.
There is so much in music we don’t have control over, but we do have the ability to shape, refine, and create different versions of our songs. Giving your tracks two, three, or even more tries is one of the best ways to ensure you’re making your best work.
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.