I’ve been making music seriously for more than a decade now. There are times when writing a song feels like the most natural thing in the world, when chords, melodies, and lyrics spill out of me without effort or thought. But most of the time, songwriting doesn’t come easy to me if I’m being honest. These days, if I made music only when I felt like it, I wouldn’t be making any music. It’s sort of like when a person simultaneously dreads and looks forward to going to the gym. I know that the act of making music makes me a more sane, whole, and loving person, but man is it hard sometimes. And this doesn’t even get into the non-musical aspects of trying to create and share music with the world––booking shows, pitching to blogs, and playlists, etc.
Taking a break every now and then from music isn’t just a good idea. It’s mandatory for anyone who makes music seriously. The problem comes when musicians step too far away from their work and can’t find their way back to it.
How can musicians like me and anyone else who does this seriously get the most out of taking breaks from their work without leaving it completely?
That answer is going to change wildly from musician to musician, but here are a few things I’ve learned when it comes to taking time away from music:
There’s no one way to write a song. If you’re a songwriter, you’re probably well aware of this fact. But when a musician comes up with a great idea, it can be difficult to remember this when a single idea fails to materialize into a good song. We often love musical ideas so much that we’ll do anything to protect and preserve them, even if it means ultimately wasting our time or sacrificing other ideas that actually work well in a piece of music.
But how do you know when to press forward with an idea and when to bail? This is a question that songwriters and composers have grappled with for as long as music has been around.
Music is a space where it’s tempting to approach things with an indulgent philosophy. If you think about it, everything from selling out shows to proving your music is being listened to over streaming platforms is dependent on numbers. The better numbers you can generate, whether it’s song streams, fans over social media, or downloads of your music, the better, right? I don’t think it’s that simple, and in an age where music is so intertwined with numbers, we run the risk of valuing musicians too much or too little because everything is attached to numbers now. Rather than adopting a “more is always better” mentality around your music, you could probably benefit in a big way from stepping back and embracing a more minimal approach––especially when it comes to songwriting.
Because music is closely intertwined with emotion, musicians often approach their work with unrealistic expectations. Big, vague, and unreachable expectations can be dangerous because they lead musicians to exchange focusing on small successes for ones they’ll never be able to attain. Here’s a list of three unrealistic musical expectations to watch out for:
Ableton Live has become one of the most powerful Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) on the market today. Although it was designed primarily for live performance, it’s become a studio favorite. Originally built for DJs and electronic musicians, it still has enough audio capabilities to compete with other big-name DAWs. We’ve launched a new video series teaching basic Ableton Live tips and tricks so you can get started in Ableton Live today.
It’s not easy to be musically creative, especially if you’re feeling crushed by the weight of expectations. From trying to follow up a successful song to not knowing how to get started making music, hitting a wall creatively is an easy thing to do in music. Here are five tricks to help you fight songwriter’s block:
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Have you ever found yourself working on a track that needs hard-hitting and punchy 808s, but just seems to fall short with a muddy low end instead?
Getting 808s to cut through the mix may actually be easier than you think – here’s a few tips on how to do it.
For how much music has changed over the past couple of years, the reasons bands split up seem to stubbornly be the same. The complex interpersonal dynamics in bands can be extremely difficult to navigate whether you’re fresh out of high school and touring for the first time or have been in a successful band for decades. And even though we’re living in an unprecedented time in music where things work and look nothing like they did even a decade ago, there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to why bands decide to throw in the towel. In no particular order, here are the top three reasons bands break up: