As creatives we are probably the most in touch people with our feelings because we know how powerful our emotions are.
We manipulate people with our words, with our sounds, with our ideas.
I’m manipulating you right now and I don’t mean that in a bad way.
I mean that in the way that we are emotion manipulators and for us musicians, music is our medium.
And once you take this view, music becomes very easy to make, because music is just up and down, up and down, up and down.
That’s all music is (and perhaps everything is as well!).
And the best music is where we know we’re being taken up to only be dropped down and then we’ll go up again and then we’ll drop down again and we’ll do this a few more times.
And it’s a fun ride.
And it should be fun and easy. This is music for Godsakes!
So why do we make it so complicated?
Why do we feel the need to get everything perfect?
Every lyric perfect, every note perfect, every lick of the guitar perfect?
Because our fear will never leave us.
The fear that we’re not good enough is always omnipresent.
It’s always lurking in the shadows, causing us to forget about finishing that song or give up promoting that song we worked so hard on.
And then we wonder why the person that’s less talented than us makes it further than us, and it’s because they’re not afraid to be imperfect.
Remember we are not only NOT computers, we are the antithesis to computers.
Meaning we are doing things computers can never do.
And I use computers because computers do everything perfectly. You click on a link that link is going to open every single time (unless you’ve unknowingly downloaded a virus from a site you shouldn’t have been on).
Instead of using our creativity to make perfection the goal, we should be using our creativity to make creativity the goal.
And the interesting thing is, the more creative you are, the less perfect you need to be.
I know that’s crazy, let me say that again: the more creative you are in your music, the less perfect you need to be.
Because you are creating for creating’s sake, in other words, for your own internal energy.
“Internal energy?!” Andre have lost your mind?
Yes all of our songs come from a build up of internal energy we want to release into the world.
That’s why making music feels like therapy.
Not that I’ve ever gone to therapy to know what therapy feels like.
But I do feel a release when creating.
So yes we should only be creating for creating’s sake (i.e. internal energy release).
Now you maybe saying, “Okay Andre you are nuts, I can’t release a really creative song with all these flaws?”.
I would say, if you’re a person like that, then you already don’t have many flaws in your music and you should live with the 2 to 3 flaws in your song.
But if you’re a person who’s like “I don’t give a damn!” and you’re completely fearless, and your song has hundreds of flaws that you’re not even aware of, then yeah you need to fix some of those things.
Or not and see what happens.
We are serial experimenters.
We’re seeing what works and what doesn’t.
You can’t make a good song without making a ton of bad ones.
You’ve got to be fine with making bad songs that no one will like.
I love when I work with a new artist and they start sending me the first few songs they’ve ever made.
And even though they are bad, like painfully bad, like I start questioning if my prices are too low?
I’m happy cause I know they are at least on the journey to making good songs.
Letting fear block you from this journey is just going to keep you in the same cycle of saying “what if”.
What if I finally released a song this year?
What if I finally drop the album I’ve always wanted to?
What if I finally let my voice be heard?
This is the highest level of ourselves.
When we create in-spite of being scared.
For me, I’ve trained my mind, to know my art is complete when I’m scared to release it.
And for me this happens, a lot, even with these blogs I write.
I’m sweating when I push that publish button, because I’m making myself vulnerable to criticism.
People will say, “Oh he doesn’t know how to write, he’s just an audio engineer?”.
And even though, nobody has ever said that, I still live with that fear.
I recently did a song where I did a love song over an Afrobeat, which is completely out of the music I usually make, and I was scared to even post it on my Instagram.
And mind you, I’ve been making music a long time and release music fairly consistently and yet am still afraid.
So I know the fear will never leave us.
But I just remind myself, why I’m doing this in the first place and that’s creating for creating’s sake (internal energy release), not for fame and fortune (external validation).
We may not be able to completely get rid of fear, but we sure can dance with it, which shouldn’t be too hard, we are musicians after all!
Great advice Andre! I was getting tired of going so slow that it seemed like I was hardly getting anything done. I was trying to be too perfect even though I am far from that as a musician and songwriter. I think I can apply this by seeing if I am generally happy with my song and have addressed any glaring problems. I will always be a little overboard on inspecting the details but it is time to let up a little and have more fun!
You have no idea how timely this email is. I am almost done working on a client’s album which I’ve been working on since October last year. I never imagined it would take so long since its my first. When I think of all the recording takes I had to do trying to get perfect vocals, the many times I asked my client to change a part of the song which didn’t sound right and the many times I had to redo a track by creating newer versions of it, I can relate 100% to what you’re saying. There is a fear of negagive criticism in most creatives. The fear of failing at something that takes so much emotion to create. I guess that’s why the famous painter called Henri Mattise said that creativity takes courage. Because we are always wrestling with fear and insecurity. I may not know nearly half of what the great audio engineers out there know, but I can now finish this album focusing on progress not perfection.
Very inspiring. The attitude is just right. I was totally into creating music a long time ago (don’t ask) but then got into work and other stuff. Recently after losing a job/career I had for another long time I did some soul searching and realized that creating music was what I had to do. I am glad I found this site. I am trying to learn how to mix better. Mastering is still tough to get that professional shine. Someday when money is less tight I hope to get your professional help.