Pushing Past "Producer Plateau"
Just posted a video about this--where I'm at right now, in this not-quite real-feeling place with production. I came up with a short list of things, and thinking about these 6 things help me get my head on straight when I lose faith in my path as a producer: 1. Healthy comparison 2. Expand my catalog & finish stuff 3. The REAL finish line 4. Acknowledge the WINS!!! 5. Rest & play 6. Value is NOT THE SAME as marketability.
Healthy comparison: I hear a lot of mentors and role models say “don’t compare yourself to anyone except who you were yesterday” or some version of that. Here’s the thing though: if I want to learn anything, I MUST compare myself to other’s success. How did I learn to write letters? I had to compare my handwriting to that of the standard. I couldn’t just make up a scribble and call it good. If I want to communicate in this world, I have to compare my work with the standard of excellence and copy it. Same goes for production: I MUST listen very closely to what commercially successful producers are doing and copy it, learn how they do that. Of course there is experimentation, innovation, and creativity needed, I can’t only copy the work of others, but I can’t only compare myself to myself yesterday, that doesn’t help me learn.
Expand my catalog & finish stuff: I got down on myself for some recent rejections where my work either didn’t fit what was needed, or didn’t fit to the standard of excellence required. It felt bad bc right now I have a very small body of work, so any rejection is going to feel huge--it is literally a rejection of a huge percentage of my work! So step one in pushing past this plateau feeling is MAKING MORE STUFF AND FINISHING MORE STUFF. That way, by sheer numbers alone, the work won’t feel so precious. I can prove to myself I can make more, and that my best work is always inside and ahead of me.
The REAL finish line: The finish line at this time is not sell work for 1000’s of dollars. The finish line is literally finishing something and learning from the process. 1000’s of dollars will come later and THAT IS 100% OK. It’s all data--what did this project teach me? Was it fun?
Acknowledge the WINS!!! Did someone give me really nice feedback or a compliment on the work? That’s a win! Did I acquire a new skill in the process? That’s a win! Did I find out what I really love to do--what I like best in the whole process, was this really fun to write, pick out sounds for, sing, add harmonies, mix? What was the most fun? Focus on that, What a win! Fun is what we’re trying to buy with 1000s of dollars anyway. Way to jump cut that line!
Rest & play: no brief or project in mind, just play with sounds or your instrument of choice, just for the joy of it. Stop grinding on stuff--it only makes the gloom clouds worse. Step back and get some rest.
Value is NOT THE SAME as marketability: I had been focused on marketability but I realized literally anything can be made marketable The guy behind Koolaid managed to make an empire out of powdered drink mix and that no one needs. The Koolaid dude literally wrote in a letter to his wife “All I have to do to make a great big business out of it is to place a lot of ads”. With salesmanship you can manipulate anyone into wanting anything, and value has nothing to do with it. This music, it is something only I can do, I am the only one who can make the music that is inside of me. What a privilege and a joy to have the tools and skills to bring it out and share it with the world. That’s a huge win.