File Under: Creating and Making Your Music

In today's world of streaming, it pays to create more music and release it on a schedule. We've covered this in our EM feature article, Master Class: Make Spotify Work for You, as well as a talk that we've done in both New York and Chicago: How to Release Your Music in a Streaming World to Grow Your Fanbase and Generate Revenue.

One common question we receive from musicians relates to how to create and produce more music for this new streaming world. This is often tied to questions about our project where our band, Beatnik Turtle, released one song for every day of 2007. They ask how we managed to write, create, produce, and release 365 songs and what we learned from the monumental creative exercise.

While we normally only talk about music business, for this new DIY Advisor series, we're going share tips we learned about creating and producing music so you can learn from our mistakes and benefit from our successes. This is critically important since music is the center of everything you do as a musician.

In this article we're going to share, at a high level, the techniques that worked for us. But in the coming weeks we'll be double-clicking into these concepts and giving more background and practical ideas for each of them based on our experiences building our 500+ song catalog.

Consider these ideas to kick up your music production:

1. Get ideas everywhere.

Perhaps the most asked question we get about successfully pulling off project is: where did we come up with 365 ideas for songs? The answer is: everywhere. We continually used experiences from our daily lives to come up with new songs. For this, we borrowed some of the best techniques from improv -- especially the Second City improv program. We also worked with musician and non-musician friends who brought their ideas to the studio. Plus, ideas emerged from classes we took at Chicago's The Old Town School of Folk Music. Always be ready to be inspired, and keep your phone handy to capture ideas when they come to you.

2. Destroy your creative blocks.

The biggest irony with creativity is that you come up with better ideas when you lower the bar of your expectations of what you're creating. Not every idea, lyric, or song needs to be perfect or a work of art. Shut off the editor inside your head. Immediately judging your initial ideas can actually limit your output and stifle your creativity, experimentation, and growth as a songwriter. First, capture your ideas and follow where they lead. Whether they become full-fledged songs in time can be decided later. We'll go into depth on this in a future article, but always look to lower the bar when you're generating ideas so your creativity can flourish.

3. Create a music assembly line.

If you try to produce your music at the same time you're trying to create your music, you might choke off your creativity and may end up doing both poorly. Keep them separate. Each of these activities use different parts of your brain that can stifle one another. Because of this, our band split our songwriting sessions and recording processes so that each could be the most productive. In the future, we'll share how we did this for project and give you ideas on how you can do something similar for your own music.

4. Turn songwriting into a habit, and get organized around a calendar.

To get great at creating music and upping your song quality you have to make songwriting a part of your schedule. Make it a habit. But equally important is planning your recording sessions. A calendar and schedule may be your greatest tool as you turn your music career into a success.

5. Organize a group of musicians to make more music

When there's a band involved or you're collaborating with other musicians, small things such as ground rules, agreements, and split sheets matter. In fact, we lost two band members before we started our project since they quit once the band voted to do it. These things can happen to you, so you need to be prepared. We'll go into depth on this in a future article, and share key things you should have in place before creating and releasing your music into the world.

6. Build a song production vocabulary.

When starting the project, we were at a real risk of creating 365 "guy-with-a-guitar-just-singing" songs. To avoid this, one of our ground rules was to create a variety of music, with different instrumentation, singers, genres, and styles. Doing so took us out of our comfort zone and challenged us as songwriters. When we produced so many songs in such a short amount of time, we ended up creating our own music vocabulary and shorthand that cut across every genre. In this article, we'll share the techniques we used to keep each song fresh and interesting as well as show you how to develop your own.

7. Market your catalog of music so it can get discovered

Once you produce a bunch of fresh music you'll have more opportunities than ever to promote your work to the world so it can be discovered, heard, and build your following. We'll share a bunch of ideas on how to take that new catalog you created and how to make new fans, listeners, and coverage.

Our goal with this creativity series is to help you generate a ton of new music and get the most out of it once you are ready to release it.

Check in each Wednesday here at The DIY Advisor or follow us on Twitter @indieguide so you don't miss a single article.

Follow us on Twitter @indieguide


#musicproduction #tonsofmusic #streaming

Photo credit: Bill Ward