Attention all Music Producers: Are you working on a lot of unfinished songs, with nothing completed? This is extremely common with many producers.
It’s frustrating to have so much material, yet nothing final. You just want to finish one of your projects and release it into the world, but you just can’t help starting another song you’ll never complete. If you want to stop this habit, we will teach you the best way to finishing songs. Or at least, our best way on how to finish a song.
It’s hard to know when your song is officially done. If you’re a perfectionist, you may never be 100% happy with the final version. However, don’t spend too much time dwelling on how to perfect your track. While some producers may say that it’s best to just laser focus on one perfect song, we find that finishing and completing a variety of okay ones is better to reach your end objective. Of course, you don’t have to officially release the song or anything.
The more time you spend to create, the better you’ll become. The hundredth song you complete will likely be way better, and easier to complete, than the first. Your first track will most likely not be great so don’t feel too much pressure to make it outstanding. Everyone has to start somewhere, and trial and error is the biggest way to learn what works and what does not.
If you finish 100 songs, 10 will be good. If you finish 10 songs, 1 will be good. -Kraddy
In this article, we will teach you how to finish your works in progress and quit procrastinating with these simple methods and strategies. While everyone has their own creative process, we have found these steps as the best roadmap to help finish songs. These are just our tools.
We’re not saying this is easy. Making music and finishing it is really hard. It requires time and discipline. You need to work hard to create finished music that you are proud of.
Beat Your Procrastination
Start with 5 Minutes Technique
To beat procrastination, use the “start with 5 minutes” technique. Also, setting a time limit on a certain aspect of the work really helps. Parkinson’s Law is an adage that states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” This basically translates to mean work you could potentially get done in 45 minutes, when given the flexibility, could also take you two hours. Set a time limit and stop your work when the time’s up.
It’s important to set a goal for yourself and spend time to accomplish it. For example, “my goal is to complete one song per week.” You don’t need to meet these goals, but setting an end date is a good way to prevent procrastination. Along with the paradox of choice, if you don’t have a reason to complete a song by a certain date, why would you? It’s easy to continuously push it to the wayside. There’s always something more important. One way to stop this is to time block a certain time of day or day of the week. Dedicate this to your works in progress or the specific song at hand. The middle of your longer production sessions, find some time to get some fresh air outside. It’s good to have breaks between productivity.
Steps to Finish Your Song
Listen to All Your Unfinished Music
Gather your favorite works in progress into a single folder. Then, start to review each song, one by one, end to end. Maybe listen to each song more than one time. It can be a daunting task to approach your back-catalog of songs, unfinished ideas and little scraps of music to try and conjure them into finished masterpieces. It’s important to ask yourself what you are willing to do to further your art.
Sometimes, we might only be able to muster the willpower to just listen to a song and write notes. Other times, we get absorbed in an all-nighter in the studio in peak flow state, creating several tunes in one go. Some tracks may feel vague and ambiguous. That’s fine, write that down. Perhaps you need to jam to the song on a real instrument, send it out for feedback or collaboration, etc. Just write down whatever naturally comes to mind as you’re listening.
Make List of What Needs to be Done
Take detailed notes while listening to each song. Once you finish listening to each track, make solid decisions for each song. What parts do you want to change in the music? Do you have new ideas? How is the audio recording? Where are the issues? Does the song end abruptly? Be as detailed as possible. Is there enough bass in the intro? How do you want to handle that, do you want to add more sounds? Maybe the mix feels muddy. Are the transitions smooth? Document all of your ideas and make sure it’s neat.
Prioritize Your Tracks and Finish That Song!
The paradox of choice can be one of the biggest reasons you can’t finish one song. You have so many songs in progress, you don’t know where to start. This can make things overwhelming and difficult to focus on one song at a time. Making a list of song priorities will help keep your head on straight. Stop procrastinating and make that list!
We suggest you prioritize the songs based on the amount of work needed to complete. We find that we finish songs easier when we put the the easiest first. It’s a great way to take baby steps and not feel frustrated or overwhelmed. Each baby step is one point closer to your goal. Small completable tasks help override the procrastinator within us, and we slowly move forward. As we finish each song, momentum will kick, making each new song easier and easier to complete. That sense of accomplishment compounds until we have an abundance of finished music in front of us. Maybe you’re most inspired to finish the songs that need the most amount of work though. That’s fine, start there instead. You have the ability to clearly see what must be done for each track to complete it.
Specific Tips and Tricks
The Pomodoro Technique
If you’re still running into issues with finishing your song, you can use The Pomodoro Technique. People often get stuck at the loop or from making a B or C section from their initial A part. Take a section and remove some parts. Take a section and resample it or turn it into another instrument. Those are ways to make new sections.
Freeze and Flatten Tracks in Ableton
In Ableton, you can freeze and flatten a track. Whether it’s an audio file with effects or a MIDI channel, it converts it to a single piece of audio file. Essentially, it forces you to commit to a decision and move forward. The more you freeze and flatten, it commits you to moving on and not continuously going back. This will help you finish a song faster.
If you’re at the beginning of your writing or songwriting process and need writing songs help on how to make a song without any instruments, read Sink’s guest blog post here.
If you’re an electronic music producer and still find it difficult to complete a song and conjure up ideas for your music, book a coaching session with us at Gravitas Create. From Sidecar Tommy from Beats Antique, Wolf-e-Wolf, David Starfire, Hulabalo0, etc., our coaches are touring musicians, successful entrepreneurs, and professional educators. They will work to help stimulate your unique sound and furnish the tools needed to make a living from your music. Whether you’re a complete beginner with no software purchased or a skilled producer who just needs some direction, our coaches have your back.
Now, you’ve got a roadmap for how to finish your next song. As we said above, these things do require time and hard work. You can’t expect to finish music faster at professional rate instantly or even after your hundredth song. Making a song and producing isn’t something that will always be natural, even if you’re a master at it. Even after you master this process, you’ll likely come back to experience creative block in the future. Don’t give up if you find yourself stuck though.
People experience blocks and get creatively stuck every day. The biggest and most successful artists get writer’s block and have difficulty to finish songs. Artists and songwriters who headline and sell out venues such as Red Rocks or EDC Last Vegas get this exact same feeling as you do. Instead of getting frustrated that you can’t make something you’re 100% happy with, it’s part of being human. Music production is no walk in the park.
Don’t try to force creativity. That’s just not how creativity works, you don’t just get an innovative idea because you want it. Anything can naturally trigger creativity. Let your mind wander and relax, but listen to it and what influences it. Maybe sitting in a certain spot helps your mind be free, maybe your most open when you’re doing yoga. It’s important to know that just because you’re doing actions to trigger your creativity, it will not always be there. Don’t get frustrated, trust the process, and let yourself think freely.
Maybe you can complete a song, but you’ve never been proud of anything you’ve made yet. That’s normal, too. Let’s face it. A majority of the time, you will not be entirely happy with the music you create. Like anything else, it just requires time. For each track you think you could improve on, question how. Do you think the track was too empty? Put these constructive criticisms into your next tune. Always learn, always grow.
You continuously need to work and hustle, be patience, and don’t be afraid to try your wildest ideas for your song. It can be easy to get stuck in musical habits and be hard to test new ideas, once you’ve gotten in the groove of things. While it’s good to fall into a routine, don’t be afraid to test yourself. Each time you create a new song, try some new things that you haven’t done before. Play around with your usual arrangement, use a different bridge to the chorus, remove that verse, incorporate new elements, add a shorter or longer ending than normal.
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