Recording Is A Process Not A Project

| Mixing, Plugins, Tips

If I’m being honest, I don’t really want to gain experience and spend time building up a recording/mixing skill set. I simply want to churn out pro recordings in my studio now. Period. I’m sure you do too. That’s because we’re such a project oriented culture. We want instant change, transformation, and improvement. We don’t have the patience to go through a process of learning. We only want results.

Setup For Disappointment

Let me be clear: you can get better at recording and mixing one simple tip, philosophy, and technique at at time. In as little as 5 minutes really. My hope is that you learn something from my website today that you can turnaround and go make better music with right away. But if you really want to make great music in your studio and become excellent at this craft long term, then you mustn’t view recording and mixing as merely a task you can accomplish. It’s a life long process.

There’s never a moment when you will have “arrived” and you’ll have learned all there is to learn. There’s no real finish line to shoot for. Thinking that way is so linear and it only leads to disappointment because you won’t ever reach that line. Or if you do reach what you think is the finish line you’ll realize there’s another line just ahead. So close! This creates an exhausting, fruitless search for the “answer” or the “magic bullet” to recording better music so you can check this off your bucket list.

Forget Inquiry, Let’s Meet Standards

There’s a big reason why we don’t have patience to explore the recording arts as a lifelong learning process. It’s called the Industrial Age. After 100+ years of industrialization in many of our nations we’ve been swept into the thinking that we should pursue every course of life as economical and systematized as possible. There’s no room for exploration. In fact, author Seth Godin says it best in his book The Icarus Deception:

We transformed school from a place of inquiry into a facility optimized for meeting standards. This is something the industrial age taught us – that there are answers and that you need the answers in order to succeed. Memorize enough answers and you’re set. – Seth Godin

Does this not ring true for many of you? We are so conditioned from a young age to get the right answers. That leads to better test scores and better grades in school which lead to better opportunities for more school, which can lead to better work when we grow up, which is supposed to make us lots of money and bring us endless happiness.

Well, that conditioning leaks over to the home studio. We get into recording because it is fun and we are artists. But we turn it into an answer seeking mission, rather than a process of musical inquiry and growth.

Redeeming The Process Of Learning

I know that this is a little on the philosophical side today, but stick with me. I want you to make better recordings and mixes. Period. I believe that great music should be captured with sonic excellence and innovation. A bad recording doesn’t do a great song justice. However, in order to get better at this, you need time. Time, and then more time. There really isn’t a shortcut. The only shortcut I can think of is to do more work sooner.

You’re in a process, it’s a fact. So stop fighting it. Stop looking for one line answers to your problems.  Your drums sound flat and dull? Your answer isn’t a plugin or a new microphone. Your guitars sound harsh? There isn’t one solitary EQ move you can do to make them sound warm, lush, and beautiful in an instant.

Stop looking for the magic pill that will cure your crappy recordings disease. Instead embrace the process of getting better, discovering new things, creating new sounds, making mistakes, and trying again. The result? You’ll be happier and ironically you’ll get better!

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16 Responses to “Recording Is A Process Not A Project”

  1. Norman

    I don’t even want to add anything to this, to not take away any of the impact of what you said there.
    Really, tears fill my eyes knowing that there are more people in the world seeing these things.

    Reply
  2. Steve Waide

    WOW could not have been said any better!!! I will be posting a link to this on my site, as well as, on my personal Facebook Page and my Business Page!!!

    Reply
  3. Rich DeVoe

    This is just what i needed today. As a fledgling home recorder i find it frustrating at times to not be able to capture the “sound” I want. Maybe too much in a hurry to complete my project. I need to learn to take a step back sometime and be thankful for what I can do and continue the learning process.

    Reply
  4. Matthias Weston

    Brilliant- This magic bullet full of one line advice is just the pill i’ve been looking for!

    Reply
  5. Casper Bjerkehagen

    This will probably change my life. Thankyou!!! Putted(?) words on my feelings of lack of inspiration and motivation, now i undarstand

    Bye! (:

    Reply
  6. Mark

    thanks for this. Your simply recording podcast has inspired me to finally finish an album I’ve been working at on and off for over 10 years. I was so disappointed with the quality of my recording and mixes that I could never bring myself to release it. So I’ve swallowed my pride, wrapped up the last two tracks and uploaded it to bandcamp. Every track is littered with mixing and recording blunders, but I’ve realised now that the best way forward is to set myself time limits and complete things, learn from my mistakes and try to improve in the future.

    Reply
  7. Fulton

    I know one thing… I have a friend that is amazingly talented vocally, as a player and writer. He uses GarageBand and any equipment he uses is very off brand stuff others threw out.

    Yet when he records a song. WOW! His soul comes through and I feel like I should hang it up. ( not really I have too much fun). . But it really shows that talent outshines gear any day off the week.

    Reply
  8. Les July

    Hey Graham,
    I just wanted to reach out personally and thank you for what you do.
    You are logical,practical and a great communicator. Your tutorials are just as valuable, if not more, than going ‘into the lair’. Keep up the good work.

    Peace,
    Les July

    Reply
  9. Devid Mike

    Brother i’m just a beginner till now… no recording studio and nothin yet… so will you please help me out to build my own home studio??? please… :)

    Reply

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