There comes a time in every producer’s life when they must push themselves outside of their comfort zone.
Do you feel like you’ve recently hit a brick-wall in your production game? Do you feel like the quality of your tunes has hit a peak and now, despite all your efforts, you’re not making any further progress?
It’s quite common for producers working alone to get stuck in a rut, sometimes the act of creation becomes the sole purpose of the producer who becomes consumed with the task of creating new material whilst forgetting to keep learning. When self-taught producers first get started there is often an eagerness to get going and make as many tracks as possible. As positive and productive as this enthusiasm is, putting too much focus on creating rather than learning can lead to hitting a ceiling early on in the results that you can achieve.
If you’ve found yourself spinning your wheels then try engaging in one of these exercises:
What does that do?
If you feel like your tracks are sounding stale, or are feeling generally uninspired with the work that you’re producing then try taking a break from your usual systems and rituals, and instead look to learning more about the tools that you’re using. Take a detailed look at the DAW that you’re using and make notes about the features that you’re not fully familiar with. If you don’t know how something works, try looking it up online and then build this new skill into your next project, it might be just the thing you need to get you out of your funk.
Invite a friend over!
Whilst working on music by yourself can often be a rewarding experience, it can also be equally frustrating. If you’re spending hours of your spare time pulling your hair out over a particular track then maybe you should think about getting an extra pair of ears in to give you a second opinion. Spending a day or two collaborating with a friend can open your mind up to new techniques, songwriting styles and production tricks – you might even end up with a tune that’s worth keeping!
Listen and learn.
The music that you make is inevitably a reflection of your taste which you’ve developed over the years, if you feel like your tunes have become a little one-dimensional, or that they’re lacking a certain something, then you could try expanding your musical palette. Thanks to the self-serving algorithms that most music streaming applications use it can be very difficult to find music that can challenge you properly. Try raiding a variety of music critics and trendsetters to get a gauge of what’s new, then dedicate some time to sitting down and really listening to these new tunes. By patiently working them out you can try applying these new ideas to your own music.
Take a break already.
Finally, sometimes the best remedy is to take a step back and stop what you’re doing. If you’re struggling with your music to such a degree that you’re no longer enjoying doing it then it might be better to take a few days off and put your focus somewhere else. Take yourself away from your bedroom and try engaging your mind in another task for a week, then see how you feel when you get back to the mixer.