You probably recognize this. You have an evening off, want to make great music and after 5 minutes you’re completely stuck. It drives you crazy! But what’s the solution?
Read on and discover how you can stay motivated while making and producing music.
This is how you regain your motivation for making music
Started with a Roland MC-303, I’ve been making (electronic) music for 21 years now. Producing goes with ups and downs, and there were years when nothing worked. When I look back I understand why. Therefor I share tips and suggestions in this article to stimulate your motivation.
Motivation Tip 1. Believe in yourself and your talent
Belief in yourself is extremely important, because everything starts in your head. Of course you need talent. But without confidence it’s of little use.
“Belief in yourself is extremely important. Everything starts in your head.”
Rely on talent and develop it. By doing something with music every day. That can be very small, such as watching a tutorial on YouTube. Or organizing your sample collection, if you are too tired for making new music. It doesn’t matter how slow or fast you go, as long as you keep moving.
Motivation tip 2. Motivate yourself
Recently I discovered positive affirmations. These are positive phrases that you say out loud. This way you’ll motivate yourself.
Maybe you’re too sober for it – I was too – but check out this video on YouTube before you start making music. Then you’re immediately in the flow.
“Strive for progress. Not perfection.”
Tip 3. Do not focus solely on technology
Messing around with EQs, compressors and reverbs. If you aren’t careful with electronic music, you are more of a programmer than a musician. Watch out for it and concentrate on great music first.
For example, set a deadline: within the next hour I will have a basic beat and a chord progression. If necessary, start a stopwatch. Then you have no time at all to worry about details. Start with the basic ideas first and when you got something going, you can always fine-tune.
Tip 4. Listen a lot of music
You can get inspiration from anywhere. What helps me is listening to a lot of music. From jazz to pop and from lounge to movie scores. If you listen carefully you can get something out of everything.
When I hear something interesting, I quickly make a note. For example when I hear a good break or an interesting melody line. Why does it appeal to me? Why does it work? And can I use it in my music?
Tip 5. Cheat if you are stuck
Are you unable to finish a song? Drag a reference track above it and listen to what the pro’s do. Compare for instance their build-up or part of a beat.
With reference tracks it isn’t the idea that you steal. Use them mainly to keep moving and finish songs. By clever ‘cheating’, you learn a lot and make progress quickly.
💡 Tip. There are hundreds of YouTube to MP3 converters online. Use them to convert YouTube songs to MP3 easily.
For podcasts I use CPod. This is a free podcast app for that allows you to easily download episodes. Am I stuck with a track? Then I download a DJ set and get inspired right away.
Tip 6. Don’t set the bar too high
Why do you make music? Do you want to become famous, be seen by friends or do you just do it for yourself. All the pressure you put on yourself often gets in the way of your musicality. So let it go and make music for yourself. Also, don’t judge your own songs and leave that to others.
Since I stopped trying to be good, I’m more productive than ever. And my songs sounds better too.
Tip 7. Get inspired by tutorials
Following music tutorials on YouTube is another great way to find inspiration. Many of my songs are created like this.
“Follow music tutorials and apply the techniques to your own compositions.”
I often follow instructional videos halfway through, and then I understand how a technique or plug-in works. I then apply those insights to my own song and that often leads to surprising results. For example, I now make a melodic techno song based on a groovy house beat. A bit strange, but it works.
Motivation tip 8. Transpose your songs for a different feel
Sometimes a song doesn’t sound great because it isn’t in the right key. All ingredients are there and yet the spark is missing. In such cases, experiment with transpose. Raise or lower an arrangement a few notes sometimes works wonders.
In Studio One you can transpose tracks with the settings of a channel. That way you don’t have to edit midi notes. And you can restore the pitch to 0 with one click, if it doesn’t sound better.
Tip 9. Be inspired by the sounds of others
Nowadays there are plug-ins that automatically generate creative midi-loops. Riffer is an example of this. Choose a key and note length, click on the dice and see what happens. You can save notes that you are satisfied with. And of course you can add or remove extra notes.
With plugins like Riffer you need a little luck. But maybe it works for you?
💡 Tip. Bedroom Producer Blog is a great site for free VSTs and samples. Visit the site and download the instruments, effects and packs. Don’t forget to read my guest posts as well 😀.
Tip 10. Know your DAW and VSTs inside out
In 21 years of making music I’ve learned an important lesson: knowledge is way more important than equipment.
With only freeware synths you can make great songs. If you know what you’re doing.
Therefore invest in knowledge and really get to know your DAW and VSTs. Then you get more out of the things you already have and you can concentrate on what’s really important: inspiring music.
Tip 11. Turn different ideas into a new track
Do you have a lot of half-finished songs on your hard drive? Then go through them and see if you can combine them.
Take for instance the lead from track 1, the break from song 2 and the chord progression from jam 3. You thought they were good enough to save them back then, so do something with it.
“No inspiration? Make one whole track from several half-finished songs.”
Tip 12. Choose the synths and DAW that suit you best
Each synth has its own character and workflow. Some VSTs are much more inspiring for me than others, while they sound pretty much the same. So check your collection now and then and try some demos from other VST plug-ins.
Recently I stumbled upon Pigments 2 from Arturia, and I was instantly hooked. This VST now plays a leading role in almost all of my tracks. So a VST can really make a difference.
No motivation and fun in making music? Share your solutions
Every musician and producer knows it, you run out of motivation now and then. What do you do to get going again? Share your tips in the comments and share your knowledge. Together we know more!