Make More Music This Year With These 3 Mindset Shifts

| Rant, Video

How much music did you make in your home studio in the past 12 months? Was it as much as you would have liked?

Did you have good intentions months ago, but then life and reality set in – leaving you with a big ole pile of nothing?

Maybe you bought all the gear you needed, watched a bunch of tutorials on YouTube, but then never finished a project you were excited about – or worse, never got started.

If that describes you, then you’ve just learned something valuable – no gear, technique, or trick will actually help you make music. Life always gets in the way. Instead you need to change your mindset. And specifically there are 3 key mindsets that I highly recommend you adopt if you want to see massive music production in your immediate future.

And the great thing about these mindsets is, you can change them instantly and they feel absolutely liberating. Are you ready? Here’s to making a lot more music this year!

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103 Responses to “Make More Music This Year With These 3 Mindset Shifts”

  1. Chris George

    I 2nd that-you’re spot on my friend. Last year I made a deadline & got one song released. Didn’t set another deadline & guess what I didn’t finish another song. I better set another deadline.

    Reply
  2. Ryan Dyson

    Thank you so much for this! I struggle with anxiety and self-confidence issues that significantly affect my creativity. Your message is empowering and it reminds me why I started making music in the first place. Thank you for teaching me how to look beyond the limitations I create for myself.

    Reply
    • djon

      Hi Ryan.

      What you make is your musical stamp. If you are satisfied and like what you have done release it to the world. Likes is not equal to succes. And it will get much easier along the way – I promise you…

      Reply
      • Ryan Dyson

        I really appreciate you saying that. I’m in a better place now than I used to be and am realizing the truth in your words. Thank you.

        Reply
  3. Wayne Kelley

    Thanks for the advice. Your input is spot on, period. But that is not what this email is about. You have a hidden talent, in my opion, you would be a successful public speaker life coach. I’m 63 years, and just started playing drums last year. I started watching your videos and they are very helpful and from the heart. But I think you could also release motivational speaking videos and be very, very, successful.

    Reply
  4. Les Johnson

    Hi Graham,
    I’m actually going to use the pomodoro technique to help me make my 1st album this year, i found this technique by following your advice on Parkinson’s Law. I think that you are definitely right about taking inspiration from other musical creations they can act as a spark to your own ideas/creations. My album is going to be based a round the theme of alien visitations/abductions/craft, and i intend time managing my ideas thoughts/music creation to get it done. You are an inspiration my friend thank you for your knowledge and enthusiasm.
    Les Johnson.

    Reply
  5. JOEY AYALA

    Thank you for being hard-working and for sharing so much. You are an inspiration!

    Reply
  6. Andrew Taylor

    Graham, I’m very appreciative of the unique focus you place on philosophy and Munsey concerning music creation. I do agree that it’s the number one impediment to our productivity – at least it is for me. Here I am with 2016 behind me and “lamenting” my lack of production. Honestly I have found that simply putting in the time, getting in front of the MIDI controller and DAW, pulling up some great piano samples and improvising, inspiration has struck. I feel immensely pleased, but then go away and hope that the inspiration, or at least the product, will comeback without me sitting my butt in the chair. I have this immense fear of the blank page: “What if I can’t do it again?” Such a huge difference between sitting down to work, and not, thinking nothing will happen. The difference is 100% – likely product vs. guaranteed lack of product.

    Thanks so much Graham for this reminder. I’ll be implementing the publicized deadline method this year, and setting aside time to just sit and work (perhaps early in the morning before work and before I’m “fried” of my will power).

    Andrew

    Reply
    • also Andrew

      You’re not alone. I lost years to the little voice in the back of my head telling me that creative failure was a foregone conclusion, and having so much of my identity and self worth tied up in creativity resulted in one of the worlds worst cases of avoidance/procrastination–I wasn’t about to prove the little voice right.

      Anyway, fast-forward years of struggle and the pain of having nothing to show for them; forcing myself to sit down and work, no matter the outcome, and over time I have found that I often come away with something and even when it seems I’ve made no progress, or come up with anything useful, I’ve still enjoyed the process.

      So, the knot of dreading I used to feel in my stomach, at the thought of sitting down to work on a song, is giving way, more and more, to of a sense of curious excitement. In fact, I’m going to end this here so I can go work on a tune.

      If you’re into reading, this book was a revelation:

      https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006J7BZ8E/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      Good Luck!

      Reply
  7. Wade

    Graham, to amplify your #1 point about LEARNING the gear you have and stop chasing that next plugin… when Dave Pensado asked Bob Clearmountain about favorite compressors, he responded that they were “…all the same, aren’t they?” Al Schmidt says he uses very little EQ and compression because he knows his microphones. Sure, everybody likes to try new stuff. In a recent video, Michael Brauer was employing a different saturation effect because his ear was getting a little worn to what he (and everyone else) had been using for years, but he has a LOT of experience with it. This was a big enough deal to him that he bothered to point it out.

    After years of snapping up boatloads of plugins, I’m cleaning out an embarrassing number of them and starting to focus on 2 things… getting the source sounds right and being more (gently) critical about performance. This year, I’m looking forward to making more music and saving a lot of money to boot.

    Reply
    • fuzzbox

      Wade,
      I totally agree! I have just bought my very last bunch of plugins after weeks of research and asking myself Do I really need it…
      The answer almost every time – YES!

      So I bought it the other day after waiting to see if there was going to be a deal at Christmas! There wasn’t. But hey onward and upwards! ☺

      Reply
  8. Nick Vlahakis

    Hi Graham,

    Just watched your recent video about the 3 ‘mindset shifts’. The messages are pertinent and helpful. I just set a deadline for writing a song and completing the recording with a specific group of musicians and vocalist by the end of the 1st quarter of 2017. I really haven’t done this before. I sorta did this last year when I decided to write 3 songs for my 50th year high school reunion, and have a CD to distribute to all the classmates at the event. The date of the event was fixed so it wasn’t as ‘enlightened’ as a self-disciplined approach, but it proved your point.
    So, now you know basically what an old dude I am, so I thought I’d share some thoughts with you from my own (totally different environment) that hitchhikes on your comments about some criticisms on ‘rambling’ and ‘too much philosophy’ from some of your followers. I retired as the COO of an Aerospace/Defense company, producing some of the most sophisticated, highly technical equipment in the world. But in the last decade of my career. I got ‘hammered’ by many very smart & talented engineers, scientists, etc for introducing what I called the need for “Metanoia”, a word from Greek origins, that alludes to ‘a shift in thinking’ (although it’s often in more spiritual ways). I felt the need do this for basically the same reason you raised your ‘mind shifts’ notions——-focus on technical stuff without consideration for some of the ‘softer’ and somewhat ‘philosophical’ aspects of design and production. I think maybe 10% of the 14000 employees got it—-the rest knew I had to retire someday!! Hang in there—your message is extremely germane and necessary.

    Nick Vlahakis

    Reply
  9. Rob

    Graham,

    Wow, this is just what I needed to hear. My motto for the new year… lean in ’17. I am making a commitment that I am not buying any more gear in 2017 as I have not even come close to exhausting all the things that my current gear will do now. I keep coming back to other videos you have done about how limitations force us to focus. This year it is going to be about the music, not the gear. Time to set some dates to have music done. Thanks again, Graham, for always focusing on the big wins.

    Reply
  10. Pete Musgrove

    Simply. Fantastic. Advice.
    Coincidentally, I just ordered some Motown CDs for the purpose of listening and listening and listening – listening for what’s in *those* mixes that’s not in mine.

    I always say, your best plugins come already installed – they’re called ears 🙂

    Great advice Graham

    Reply
  11. Dave

    Thank you, Graham.

    Our pride needs to be eliminated and we must work at our craft. And I need to start listening to other music to learn what they are and what they sound like, etc.
    I’m having a bit of an EQ problem in my room and would like to get a small graphic eq to tune it, but I’m able to work around it for now.
    Thanks,
    Dave

    Reply
  12. Chip Richter

    Good word Graham… you are an encourager as well as a musician, songwriter, engineer and producer. I for one appreciate the philosophy behind what your share as much as the tips and tricks. Keep up the good work Brother! Here’s to a deeper and richer creative life in 2017!

    Blessings,
    Chip

    Reply
  13. Joshua

    Awesome stuff Graham. I’ve been putting your advice to practice for a couple years now. I’ve already set my deadline to release a new album this year! Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
  14. Matt

    Great tips! I’ve found myself in a similar situation this year; full time day job, part time production course and new baby in the family. It’s really easy to convince yourself you’re too busy to record. I’ll be trying these tips out, thanks!

    Reply
  15. Nick Oosterhuis

    Graham, I like s lot of your vids, but this one is brlliant. The funny thing is: you didnt tell me anything i didnt know already, but being reminded so clearly was awesome….thanks for that….and now… more music….best regards, Nick

    Reply
  16. Freddie J

    I bought to many synths (GAS syndrome) in the last couple of years looking to program the holy grail sound, “that warm analog or the never ending arpeggiater loop” in my music… No music was produced to completion due to concentrating on sound creation, which is not all bad, but it took me away from the music. The moral of this story is Grahams tip on “mistake #1. I just sold off some gear that really is not necessary for me to create and I have more room. This is my New Year’s resolution and going public with this so I will follow through. Thanks for the conformation on this Graham.

    Reply
  17. Kim

    Thanks so much for this! It really helped to put things in order for me. I put out and EP last year and I’m preparing now to out out a full album by December 2017!

    Reply
  18. Kurt Weber

    In 2016, I took your “1 song per month ” challenge. I wrote, produced/recorded 12 songs by December 31. The most important factor was (mentally) shouting at myself that I’m not making a masterpiece, I just need to finish a song…in 31 days, forv12 months.
    I admit two things. One, it is surprisingly satisfying. I can hear much more than a year ago and my mixing moves are way more deliberate and less guesswork. Two, the songs are NOT masterpieces! But I am much more comfortable using reference tracks and much less discouraged at my average writing ability. I appreciate greatly the whole music making process. I accept that I won’t have the time necessary to achieve a perfect song, production and mix.
    But that’s okay! Because whatever time I can invest will have a return!!
    So thanks from me also, for inspiring all of us. 2017 will see 12 “EDM lite” Christmas songs…which I already have the list–Hooray!
    KW

    Reply
  19. Nick Layton

    Love it! Great thoughts to start the New Year. My goal is to release a new full length record AND start my Mixing side business in 2017. Specific dates to follow shortly. Just want to say I completely agree about all the points, but specifically point #2–I wear my influences proudly. All 3 records I’ve made have my influences all over them, and I like that. I try and create music that I would want to listen to and purchase. That means I want to write music that sounds like my favorite music. I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel here! The cool thing is, as Graham eluded to, even when you are influenced by other music when you write your own music it always comes out with your blueprint/DNA on it. Happy music making to you all in 2017!

    Reply
  20. Eti Deacon Eves

    I planned to release an album last year and worked on it – completed 10 songs but never really got it out. I was using Tunecores $9.99 Mastering for all the songs. Now I’ve ended up with another 12 more new songs so I have two albums in my DAW just waiting to be mastered and released. I also have another 10 instrumentals to be recorded for another unfinished series from 2007!………………..
    Thank you so much for the motivation I really needed. You don’t rave bro! You just hit the solution to procrastination right on the head. I’m going to release my 2 CDs on April 3rd this year. My Dad’s birthday……Have a great 2017!

    Reply
  21. Grover Rook

    Great Advice. have lots of songs started but not completed. I am setting a deadline for myself and I already have gear I don’t use that much. You are right make good use of what you have. thanks.

    Reply
  22. Rick/John Robbs

    Great thoughts on this, Graham!

    I just started the Audio Income Project (on week 3!) and I think in order to be successful with that, I need to change some of my mindsets here as well. SO–I’m going to commit to stop changing/buying gear for my recording setup as well as spending too much time researching gear that I could be using (that I’m not) and instead spend that time actually being creative! I’m also going to commit to setting goals and deadlines.

    I’ve got a client coming in about 20 minutes that I’ll be able to set a deadline with today!

    Thanks brother–appreciate your insight!

    Reply
  23. Scott Lawson

    Graham: Your comments are the best gift I’ve received this year. I look forward to another year of your tips and insights.

    Reply
  24. Sean

    Thanks heaps Graham! I recently did your Jump-start to mixing series. So helpful! I’ve now got a Samson condenser mic, a couple of KRK 4s and Reaper on my computer (and a few other bits and pieces). Got it all working. Gear sorted! Just last night I told a couple of good friends that I’m going record a 6 song EP (a selection of songs I’ve already written) by the end of March this year. Deadline sorted! And I can’t stop listening to my favourite artist even if I wanted to. Influence sorted! I really appreciate your help. The philosophy just as much as the practical stuff. Thanks again.

    Reply
  25. Pete

    Happy New Year,

    It’s almost two years ago, I discovered TRR. In this time I learned how to work with the stuff (i.e. plugins etc) I have, set deadlines, increased the number AND the quality of my productions and found out, there is so much more to learn… 😉

    So, from a ‘true-believer’ of Graham’s philosophy, I can confirm: IT WORKS!!!

    This year I will invest in two new plugins, not because I think, it will make me record better songs, but because I heard the difference compared to my standard plugins in Cubase 6.5 (yes, I know, Cubase 9 is out there… and I couldn’t care less, because I still learn new things about 6.5!).

    One project is to be released on 21st May, date made public today by the artist. By the end of the month I will have my plans ready for my other productions this year.

    Keep focussed!

    Happy mixing,
    Peter

    Reply
  26. Heinzel

    Thank you Graham,
    You’re a great inspiration to us all. I really appreciate all the knowledge that you share with us. The advice that you have given is spot on. One of my goals for this year is to release at least 30 new beats by March 1st if the Most Hight wills.

    Thanks again and may God continue to bless you brother.

    Reply
  27. preston

    Thanks Graham for all your help you are vary generous with your knowledge.If I may offer a tip I learned as a member of Taxi A&R. Our formative years of listening are during the beginning of adolescents through until are early twenties. When it comes to writing contemporary hits successful writers reverse engineer contemporary hits in order to sound contemporary and not sound dated like their age is in there 50s or40s or 30s We are so heavily influenced by those formative years of learning because of the high emotional impact that coming of age brings it becomes a fingerprint of our sound.In order to stay relevant to the market one should study the current market sure there is a lot of junk but commercial radio even in the 1950s had a lot of junk thanks again for all your help.

    Reply
  28. Ian Robins

    Thanks, Graham. I fully intend to record this year, both here at home and in studio. Have to projects in the offing – lots of songs already written. There are logistical problems but they will be overcome. My major fear is actually recording at home. I have Pro Tools but have made several mistakes which have put me off. Just got to make the first step again. I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to technology. I’m old school and used to sitting in front of the glass, not behind it. But, hey, we will overcome. Thanks for this, it has been really encouraging.

    Reply
  29. Bryan Hoogenboom

    I “started” 3 songs last year. Tracked the bed tracks, laid down some vocals… then it started… “I can’t use EZ Drummer on the final mix. That just won’t do.” Then my drummer friend lost his recording space. “My bass work isn’t very good. Who can I get to redo it?” … and so on.

    So, here it is. This year, I plan to finish and publish those 3 songs by June 1. Doesn’t sound very lofty, but January is sunk with a 10 day show and rehearsals. February I need to remodel my bathroom (necessary due to storm damage). I’m also learning all the songs to work with a new band. So really, there’s only about 3 months here. I may even throw in 1 more song if it goes well.

    Thanks for the encouragement. I need it!

    Reply
  30. Terry Slaton

    Number1 hit strongly. Gear lust has that word lust in it. Commitment is key. Thank you so much. You have truly been a blessing since I started with you.

    Reply
  31. Nathan Kaye

    Inspiration vs hard work within a deadline.
    Example of deadline work: Bowie and Queen had 24 hours to write and record without any starting point. The bass player played that infamous riff which sparked Bowie off. Then they all spent the next 24 hours straight writing and recording that incredible hit song.
    How’s that for a deadline?!!

    Reply
  32. Nathan Kaye

    Re: being inspired and influenced by your favourite music:
    I like what Pensado said about this. Don’t listen to your favourite artists/bands! Instead, listen to which artists influenced your favourite artists/bands/albums/songs…

    Reply
    • Nathan Kaye

      Re: being inspired and influenced by your favourite music: I like what Pensado said about this. Don’t listen to your favourite artists/bands! Instead, listen to which artists influenced your favourite artists/bands/albums/songs…

      Such great advice yet again, Graham!

      Happy new year blessings!
      😀

      Reply
    • Nathan Kaye

      Last year (2016), I recorded 3 full length albums 7 released 2 of them, 1 of them to raise funds and awareness for Suicide Prevention & toured nationally (Australia) to promote it.
      This year (2017), I shall shoot at least 1 film clip for each album release, as well as release the 3rd album in the first half of the year.
      I shall write record and release at least one other full length album by the end of the year.
      And I shall tour nationally around Australia to promote the latest release & hopefully parts of the USA & Canada (fingers crossed).

      Blessings to everyone’s creative output this year & thanks Graham for another great post!

      Reply
  33. Josue

    Thank you tremendously Mr. Graham. Its always GREAT to hear from you and learn from you (the Pro). For me, its about getting better mix so I am thinking of reading and diving in more depth of getting great mixes. I have Band Directors Ears which is great but need to get Sound engineer EARS. Not talking about mastering but just the fundamental. The beautiful thing about my position is that I have been able to incorporate tracks into our school performance (Film Score Music) and its AWESOME!! But I lack at least punch on getting better sounds. With this said, I also play at my church and with these both things music is always constantly running in my house LOL. As always thank you for your inspiration and looking forward to your next video, AWESOME!!

    Reply
  34. John Matthew Willis

    I am going to release a 6 song EP on March 1st AND post the “single” on February 1st. By January 15th. I will have all of the songs copyrighted.

    Reply
  35. Creative Space

    Great video and wonderful advice. I am going to write and record 6 songs by March 1. I will treat this thing as a business. I will not be purchasing any new or used gear in the next 6 months. I will network with other creative people. And I’m excited to listen to great music. Lastly, I already joined Dueling Mixes and will be an active participant.

    Reply
  36. Carlo

    This is your best video I’ve seen in a long time!

    Point number 3 is absolutely spot on.
    I just finished to record an album and the only microphone that I used is a Shure SM58 that I’ve had for 10 years. I’ve only had 2 DAWs in my life. Had the same monitors and audio interface for almost 4 years. My music might not sound the best in the world, but I really don’t feel I need something else to make music. And I don’t want to, at least for now.

    Also, point number 2. It’s 2017 and we live in a world where the lines between musical genres have been blurred a lot (and I thank God for this), there’s really no point in doing one thing and one thing only. Listen to music that you like, but also to music that you don’t like and try to find something that you like. A sound, a chord sequence, whatever. Also, make a list of the things you don’t like so to avoid doing it in your music.

    The world needs art. Please, don’t confine art!

    Reply
  37. fuzzbox

    Happy New Graham!
    Thanks for the inspiration and the videos!

    I have given up the day job last year to concentrate on music full-time! That is my motivation. I have to pay the bills.

    I have done a couple of months of research and I have come to the same conclusions (roughly) that yo have just laid out!

    #3 Stop waiting for inspiration – Already started doing it
    #2 Be influenced by great music – Always doing it
    #1 Get the gear you need then stop buying more. – Just did that with Komplete 11 Ultimate.☺

    This is my first ‘WORK’ day!

    Thanks for everything Graham
    ♫♪♫

    Reply
  38. Alex

    2015 I mixed 24 songs. 1 Song per weekend. I did run out of steam. BUT I got 24 songs done. However, 2016 I did 3 songs. I had to give my family my attention. Music once was my first commitment. But these days I have a family.
    What I found interesting was Ed Roland of Collective Soul, had their hit song, Shine, lying around for 5 years, and he finally decided to put it to bed. He had to make something of it.

    Reply
  39. Andrew Jeske

    Graham you are brilliant and this is all SO true. Since George Michael’s death I have been re-watching his music videos. I came across an interview George did with Piers Morgan where he was talking about offering to write a song for Kate Middleton and Prince William’s wedding. He made the offer two weeks before the wedding and tweeted to his fans that he was going to do it. In the interview he said once he had tweeted that he was going to do it, he then thought “what have I done” but then went on to say how surprised he was that the result had been that it had been the best 2 or 3 days in the studio that he had had, maybe ever. This was 2011 and Wham started in 1984 so George had been writing and releasing music for a good while. So Parkinson’s Law can really work for us all!

    Reply
  40. Esli

    Great stuff Graham! I am SO doing this, all 3 mindsets.
    1-I’ve recently blogged my deadline*, which terrifies me! But somehow, it also got me going.
    2-I don’t mind being influenced by the music I love. I want it to be influenced. And what comes out is always something new and unique. It just fits with my musical taste, which is how it should be, right?
    3-I’m sticking with last EP’s gear. It worked. I know how to use it. I like it.
    Thanks for your amazing content!
    *
    http://loundrock.blogspot.com.es/2016/12/this-is-not-new-years-resolution.html

    Reply
    • Pete M

      Hi Esli,
      Listened to your Life is today. Pretty cool stuff. Good luck with the new EP.
      Regards from Germany,
      Pete

      Reply
      • Esli

        Hi Pete! Thanks a ton for listening to my music and sharing your opinion 😀
        Best regards from Barcelona (my brother lives in Germany, you have a beautiful country).

        Reply
        • Pete M

          Thanks Esli,

          originally I’m from the Netherlands :-D! Came here to work for two or three years, never went back. That was 20 years ago!

          Let me/us know, when the EP/album is ready! I did set a soft-deadline for my project: end of September.

          Best Regards to Barcelona (wasn’t Johan Cruijff trainer of Barcelona?),
          Pete

          Reply
          • Esli

            Hi again Pete!
            Yes, Johan was trainer of FC Brcelona. And not just that, he was one of the Legendary ones (in my opinion one of the two best with Pep Guardiola).
            Your story reminds me of myself. I came to Barcelona 25 years ago and stayed, but I was born in Puerto Rico 😛
            I’m glad to know you also have a project and a deadline for it. Would love to hear more about it 🙂

            Reply
            • Pete M

              Hi there :-),

              Are you on facebook or do you have an emailadress?

              I like to have contact with fellow-musicians and/or engineers all oder the world to exchange experiences about the whole process of recording/mixing etc. Currently I’m working on a project to promote music from people like you and me (totally free, no strings attached) . In case you might be interested, just click on my name and you will be directed to my HP with an email address.

              Yeah, it’s funny how life writes its own stories. Just consider the fact, that two people, who left their homeland and do not know one another, write with each other, because Graham from Florida, USA posted a blog :-)!

              Wish you a wonderfull sunday evening from a cold, rainy and misty Wolfenbuettel, Germany,
              Pete

              Reply
  41. Daniel Lovett

    Thanks Graham, I will be going over the little snippets of music I have recorded on my phone to try to make some songs of them. Your advice has been the primary help for getting our latest album out 2016.

    I have found things I really like in music by Sufjan Stevens lately. I love his courage in the early years. It seemed he wasn’t afraid to just have put out alot of music, have fun, and not be afraid to add some noise

    Reply
  42. Joshua Hall

    Graham,

    Awesome! Couldn’t agree more. I took a write one song in one month challenge 2 years ago and have released at least one new single every month since. The Recording Revolution was where I finally decided it was time to stop wishing for new gear and start making the best songs I can with what I have.

    here’s the latest:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kov6a4IDbjc

    Thanks,
    Josh

    Reply
  43. Rebecca

    Graham, could you show us how to use ‘pan pots’ in Logic – as per protools.

    Reply
  44. JOHN POSEY

    “You can’t wait for inspiration.
    You have to go after it with a club.”
    – Jack London

    Reply
  45. Paul Watson

    Thanks Graham for your edvice its well appreciated will start putting those ponits in to practice God Bless you.

    Reply
  46. George Roxburgh

    Graham – a belated thank you for all the great material you generated throughout 2016.

    What a great video to start the new year. Many thanks for these important “gems”

    Have a great and inspiring 2017

    Reply
  47. another Andrew

    #3 – making an exception for noise making toys.

    but, thanks for the message.

    Reply
  48. Paul

    Simple and to the point. I think I’ll listen to this often as I’ve been in a writing slump lately.
    Thanks Graham

    Reply
  49. Laban

    Plagiarism is a huge problem. You’re not helping by celebrating it.
    If you’re lifting a riff or a part of a melody to use in “your” song,
    you’re not “inspired”, no my friend, you are stealing.

    Reply
    • Andrew Taylor

      Good listening doesn’t produce plagiarism. Not if you’re familiar enough with your music to have digested it, to have made it a part of you. I had a time where I struggled with not making my music sound like other songs, where my mind and voice would “go to” the melodies of other artists because they were engrained in my mind. I’m not sure what transpired between then and now, but now I can subconsciously use the pieces I’ve absorbed over the years (with extra emphasis on what I’m listening to and loving now), hear and appreciate where the influence of a certain song exists (even if another listener couldn’t hear that influence), and, importantly, hear when my influence is too direct. I had to totally change the melody in the verse of one of my songs (“You Are Worthy”) felt WAY too similar to the melody in the verse of “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music – I song I was nearly obsessed with just before that time. Just my two cents. I know it’s been said that amateur artists borrow or are influenced, whereas professional artists steal, but that hasn’t been my experience. If anyone else can hear one particular influence, it may be that you need to either taper it back or branch out to become influenced by other artists. On a final note, the process of influence in songwriting has made me keenly aware of the fact that everything we take in, sights, sounds, thoughts, etc, has an impact on who we are as people. You can’t expect to take in garbarge and not have a messy heart. As such, I do my best not to consume trashy entertainment, or to listen to music I would disapprove of producing myself, for fear of the influence of either moral junk or mediocrity. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Ilikemusic

        I think you make some good points AT. As kate bush once said we are all looking for nuggets of gold and when you find them you melt them down in your own melting pot with all your other influences and your own personality elements and what comes out is a new thing, influenced by others but sounding like You.

        Reply
        • Andrew Taylor

          That’s a great way of putting it, Ilikemusic. Thank you for sharing that Kate Bush quote. I’m loving these quotes from famous artists (the Steinbeck quote from Mark Marshall was awesome).

          Finding and melting the nuggets of gold. I’m sure there are some (including ourselves at times) that skip the melting pot and go straight to setting that nugget in/on a piece of jewelry, which I think is what Laban was upset by. 🙂

          Reply
  50. Nirel

    You truely have a gift!
    Explaning those things in a very clear way. It is very inspirational!
    About the second mindset-listening to good music also inspires you and gives you drive to make your own music.
    Thanks again.

    Reply
  51. Jean-René Bastien

    Beautiful Motivation Tips Graham……May the Holy Spirit continue to accompany You in your Ministry…..All the Best for 2017.

    My Goal is to Produce , mix and Release my first Album this year.

    Reply
  52. Ty Singerman

    Sounds awesome! I’m definitely in. Your videos are so helpful to me, you’re like the mentor away from home. My first goal is to put out a recording with my brother a month from today (taking up your 30 day song idea).

    Reply
  53. Mark Marshall

    Happy New Year, Graham!

    Your first point…. well, I just came across an article about John Steinbeck… he kept a diary during the writing of Grapes of Wrath… and in it was this quote:

    “In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration. Consequently there must be some little quality of fierceness until the habit pattern of a certain number of words is established. There is no possibility, in me at least, of saying, “I’ll do it if I feel like it.” One never feels like awaking day after day. In fact, given the smallest excuse, one will not work at all. The rest is nonsense. Perhaps there are people who can work that way, but I cannot. I must get my words down every day whether they are any good or not.”

    I’m now sitting down and writing – every day. So thank you!

    (The article I mentioned: )
    https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/02/john-steinbeck-working-days/

    Reply
  54. JK

    Love your philosophical rants. Always give me such great perspective. Helps me narrow down to what really matters – making more great music. Baie Dankie (thanks very much)!

    JK,
    Cape Town, South Africa

    Reply
  55. Dean

    Great information, and so true. I have said so many times, “I could write a song anytime I wanted too, but all of them would not be inspired.” My thinking was that if it was not inspired, it was not truly a good song. I think in some sense all of our songs are inspired, but some of them come from a deeper place. At any point, I do need to realize that in order to write songs consistently, I need to get the “Roll up my sleeves” mentality, and get to work at writing.

    The gear issue had also been my stumbling block for me at times. I have thought better and more expensive gear will help me make better music, and that just is not true. Learning the gear I have had , which in opinion was decent gear, and learning it well, would have produced much greater results than changing gear all the time. Knowing a simple DAW program completely, will help me produce better music, than a knowing an advanced DAW on the surface only.

    Great Video. Thanks for all your do to inspire. I have a song I I have been working on for the last couple of weeks, and once my new gear gets her tomorrow, I am going to learn it well, and finish arranging it, recording it, and release it as a single by March 31st, which is my daughters 18th birthday.

    “Do not worry about perfection, only direction.”

    Dean

    Reply
  56. Jason Moss

    Hey Graham! You’re right on point with this. I especially resonate with what you said about not waiting for inspiration to strike.

    Reminds me of this TED Talk I once saw on creativity with Elizabeth Gilbert. She talks about how the ancient Greeks considered their muse, or genius as something separate from them entirely. Their role was to show up day after day, and if the muse came, it came. If it didn’t, it wasn’t their fault!

    Here’s a link to the talk. I found it super interesting, and much in line with what you’re saying.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86x-u-tz0MA

    Jason

    Reply
  57. J.F. Remillard

    Late comment here… I’ve lived long enough to know that everything you said is absolutely true! And it is based on principles that can be applied to anything in life, not just music.

    And no… you are not babbling. If some people say you are, they are probably not ready to understand these words of wisdom… Just a matter of time…

    Thanks!

    Reply
  58. Lance

    About mindset change #3, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” <– Actually in the Bible. You mentioned that somehow things magically just happen after you announce your intentions to several people. Maybe it's a little more than magic. Thanks for the tips. God Bless & Hope you have a great year.

    Reply
  59. John L

    You are right on, man. Thanks for sharing. I have 3 others I will be asking to hold me accountable. I know it will work.

    Reply
  60. Patrick Cox

    Thanks Graham! Good sound advice here! (no pun intended) I am going to spend time each day just writing something…i.e., putting something down and expanding on it. I use Finale for notation but even if it’s just a chord progression or words, I am going to do something each day. I am also going to spend more time really listening to other music, and not just Christian because I like other styles and I know I can glean some good ideas from other forms. Good incentives here and I wish you well this year for many good things to come from your work. Thank you for your time and for sharing this good advice! Blessings!

    Reply
  61. Tom Warnke

    Hi Graham,
    You are so right! Learning your gear is important and if you know your gear as good as possible you will get to know what you are missing or not missing!
    Thanks for your tips!

    Reply
  62. Alan Munnelly

    Graham,
    You have really struck a chord with me there. Its so true. I think like a lot of people Im scared and I wont allow myself to finish a project and get it out there. “People might ignore it or might not like it”.

    I really would like to release something Ive recorded. Do you know of any good sources of advice for someone who has never released any material or do you have any advice? I am from Ireland by the way and I would be most likely releasing it for free over internet. So you tube and sound cloud would be what I was thinking. Also resources on setting up a website. Im sure there is loads of advice on the internet.

    How do you release your material? How do artists get on Itunes and Spotify? Im very familiar with your recording revolution stuff but Im not familiar with name you use for your releases? Id love to hear it.

    What about copyright-someone might steal my song? (More stalling tactics)

    Also I would be mastering it myself and Im sure you would have advice on that- are there different formats specific to certain sites. Probably mp3, but isnt there different sampling rates recommended? Sorry for asking so many questions- I dont expect you to answer but it might get you thinking and you could put something together sometime. Like you say theres no point having spent so much time and energy and money and putting your soul into something only for no one to hear it.
    Thank you so much for all your inspirational advice both technical and philosophical!
    Alan

    Reply
  63. Roger Valentin

    Guys and Gals who have lamented the lack of a deadline, may I present to you this little gem: the equivalent of NaNoWriMo for the composing musician– http://fawm.org/
    Basically, you have to write 14 songs in 28 days, and during February (YES!!! Next Month!) a far more sensible month than November, since there are no speed bumps such as Thanksgiving, Halloween hangovers, pre-Christmas activities.

    Does it work? If I may give an example: when I first heard about this challenge, I set it for myself and Ken, the lead guitarist in our band. To make it easier, I suggested we set themes, such as a song about numbers, a song based around colours, a song based on the days of the week–what I think of as List Lyrics, so there’s a vague yet specific target.

    The problem was, I didn’t read the rules properly, and so the target we set was not a song every two days, but DAILY!

    As it turned out it was a good problem. Ken, who up until then had written only 4.5 songs in his entire life, met the challenge, and produced a song daily. 31, in total, since we didn’t do this in February, we did it in what we came to refer to as Rocktober. As for me, I astonished myself by turning out double the amount required. And here’s the thing–it became a habit we couldn’t turn off. November, December–it was like we’d tuned into a radio station we couldn’t untune from, or lower the volume. It’s a rare day I don’t write at least one song, though I mainly concentrate on the music side–lyrics are not my strong suit.

    The proverbial 64,000 dollar question–were the songs any good?

    By way of reply, I have 3 tests I apply ruthlessly before I will let anyone hear anything I’ve written–#1 would I part with good money to pay for that tune? Test #2: Is it hooky, and does it haunt me to the point of being annoying? And test #3: does it sound good at first listen when I come back to it after a month or more away?

    If the song passes all three tests, I keep it. We added six new songs to our set after doing this exercise.

    Going forward, I find that on average, 1 in 10 songs pass this test. Three a month. Thirty-six a year.

    So to return to the original question, does FAWM work?

    Yes. And it works even better if you can find an accountability friend.

    P.s. It seems that FAWM is not open to registration right now, but the site’s Homepage will give you the basic idea. But maybe some kind soul could open a FB group so people can find collaborators/accountability buddies?

    Reply
  64. Jeff Swan

    Thank you, Graham! I just found this post & your site from a tweet from Madie Davis, a friend in McKinney, Texas. Very helpful insights for any endeavor, not just making music. The way you teach and your use of the term “worldview” makes me wonder if you’re a follower of Jesus…

    On a personal note, we have gear, including those monitors you have in the background, sitting around unplugged and unused. Default to “recording” on iPhone just to capture new songs & ideas. Looking forward to availing ourselves of your resources. Thanks again. All the best to you.

    Reply

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