I’m on an e-mail list for a guy that has a home recording/mixing/producing course. He sent an e-mail out recently that really resonated, and since it’s so closely along the lines of “am I good enough” I felt it might be appropriate to share it here in this thread:
In comes a question from one of my members:
“If I don’t make great sounding music, am I still a musician?”
That’s the wrong question.
A better question would be: “If I don’t release any music, am I still a musician?”
Yes, you can be a musician and not release music, BUT…
Why did you first become interested in home recording? Because you wanted to make music. You wanted to make art. Seth Godin says it’s not art until it’s shipped, until it’s shared with the world.
Art wants to be shared. Don’t keep it to yourself.
Unfortunately, a lot of people get stuck. Perfectionism rears its ugly head. The better you get at this, the more your ears develop. You get better at hearing imperfections, so you postpone releasing any music until you squash out all imperfections. It’s a vicious cycle.
Let’s extend that logic all the way out.
If you improve every year, and you keep holding off on releasing music because of these improvements, then your only option is to calculate what year you’re going to die and make sure you release music during that final year. It’s the only way to ensure that you release your absolute best work, when you are at your peak skill level.
That’s ridiculous advice, right?
You make (and release) music because you’re a musician. The quality of the music is somewhat irrelevant.
AND (here’s the biggest part)…your music will improve 10 times faster if you release it.
I kid you not.
You can certainly improve on your own, in isolation, but not nearly as much as when you regularly put your music out there. Something changes in your brain when your art is out in the world.
Will you release stuff with mistakes and imperfections? Of course. Make note of the mistakes and try to avoid them in the future.
You can’t learn from mistakes that never happen.
The world doesn’t want perfect music. It wants YOUR music. You in music form. If it’s perfect, it’s boring.
If your music has big, huge problems, fine. Fix them on the next one.
The goal here is to spend our lives creating music. Some will be bad, some will be good. The only way to fail is to never actually release anything. Otherwise, it’s all a win.
I wrote a song a few years back that sums it up nicely.
Rain, come on down
Pain, stick around
I know what’s on the other side
A seed becomes a tree long after it has died
Wise men say,
Though never understood
What’s hard will give you more
Than what’s easy ever could.
(“Rain” by Joe Gilder)
Go do something difficult.
Something worth it.
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