Start Now, Suck Big Time and Fail Forward

You’ve been dreaming of starting your creative venture for years, but you don’t have the equipment, the money, the time or the knowledge. What do you do? You start now with what you have, right here and right now! Starting out with a new quest can be challenging, especially when you have a full time job, kids, mortgage, the whole shabam. The road ahead is long and there are no shortcuts, you have to put in the effort. Not having enough time isn’t going to cut it. Stop watching the news and As the World Turns every night. Wake up an hour earlier, read up in your breaks, don’t get shitfaced drunk every Friday, whatever it is get it out of the way. This is the moment to get some time consuming habits out the door so you can work on your quest. I doubt you’ll say you wished you had watched more TV or spent more time at work when you are on your deathbed. So focus on what you’re passionate about and pursue it. If you’re not starting ask yourself why. The easiest way to get the million excuses to not start out of the door is to, well, just start. So what you don’t have the equipment or the experience. Just start and suck like you’ve never sucked before. Sure you won’t get it right, but three times left is also right, right? Once you’ve started you’ll notice that it all works out. Start today and you will be happy with yourself in a year. Don’t start today and you’ll look back next year wishing you had start. Don’t wait for the perfect day to show up. It doesn’t exist. Just start today. Just pick up whatever you got and get started. Not tomorrow, not next week, not before you read the “Producing for Dummies” book, NOW!

From Sucker to Awesome

When you just start out with something new and you suck you’re perfectly fine with it and you will probably have a good time as well. This is probably the only moment in your life you will be completely in heaven with your super sucker result so enjoy it to the fullest. Once you become good at this and other people get involved, it’s a lot harder to get really excited. So are you doomed to stay a sucker for life? Off course not, the only thing to do is to suck a bit less with every new project. Sooner or later (sometimes never but that’s another story) you will hit a threshold and you won’t suck anymore, you’ll be decent. Now stuff becomes interesting, the goal isn’t to suck less anymore, but to be more awesome with every new project. Gain 1 % of awesomeness everyday and the compound result of this after years will be gigantic. But shouldn’t you wait until you have the quality equipment, proper tools make up for half of the work right? Yes they do, but there’s one thing money can’t buy and that no one can take away from you and that is experience. And the cool thing about getting experienced is you get very creative if you don’t have the right tools. Getting your drivers license in an automatic and driving an automatic is great, but when the moment comes when you have to drive a stick, you’re kinda in trouble. Hence the reason I always tell people who just get their drivers license to buy an old fart 100-euro car and get all stuntman with it. You end up with a broken car and maybe even a couple of tickets, but one thing is for sure; you’ll be a ten times more skilled driver than before you had that car and you know how to use something to the max instead of staying within the save zone. When I started out producing I didn’t have a single thing. I borrowed an old desktop computer with hardly enough memory on it to run Word, picked up an old amplifier from my moms place and managed to get my hands on an outdated CD Cubase. I had eight different speakers set up, which didn’t make any sense at all. I didn’t have a keyboard so I just used my computers letter keyboard to play the instruments. I sucked like I never sucked before and I was excited as hell! This is it, I’m making music, and I had the time of my life!

Do it for the right reasons

I’ve seen many people shouting from the rooftop they are going to produce music and will be the bomb within a year. They set up a website, make a logo, write a bio and put out a media campaign bigger than Prince, but haven’t made a single beat yet. When I meet them again a year later they have sold all their stuff because producing music is actually quite hard. No shit Einstein. Are you really in it because you love music or do you really just want attention and be famous? If that’s the case then there’s better ways to get there than making music. If you are not in making music because you love making music you’re in for quite the disappointment. Producing music is a lonely, sometimes frustrating job. It’s you, your computer screen and some toys and that’s it. If you like company I suggest you get a cat because you’ll be lonely most of the time. Make a hit today and go viral for two weeks and fade all the way out for the next six months, back in the lab with your cat. Dig deep and find out what you really want to do. Ask yourself: If I never get anything out of making music would I still be doing it? If the answer is yes the reward is priceless.

Getting feedback

When you’re in the making music zone it can sometimes be a bit hard to tell if you’re still heading in the right direction. You think you’re on fire but it’s probably better to run for the emergency exit because the project isn’t going anywhere. Getting feedback is a great way to check if you are still on track. The problem with feedback is most of it sucks. 99 % of people like to give advice on things they don’t have a clue about. Stay away from these people. Other people belittle your ambitious dream and tell you that you can never become a producer. Kick those people in the nuts and get them out of your life. The are worthless and secretly admire you for doing you, but are too scared to pursue there own dreams so they just take you down. Kick them in the nuts and enjoy it while you’re at it.

Getting feedback is like finding that perfect place that makes a badass curry. You are going to that small place in another town in the shady alley to get it because you want quality curry. You don’t walk into the first restaurant to get something that’s supposed to be a curry but looks more like something that sits on the inside of a diaper. You want a curry and a damn good one to! The same goes for feedback. So what is good feedback and where to get it? First you’ve got to pull all the weeds out and get them out for good. The naysayers; out the door, the die-hard Avicii fans that can only say, “I like Avicii’s record better man, you should make his music”, out the door, the people that say “Hey man your track is boring”, when it isn’t even done yet, out the door. So who is left? Somebody who values your quest of becoming a producer and who understands the process you are going through. Somebody who can look at it objectively and who can hear the progress or regress whether he likes the music you are making or not. No need to ask ten people if they like it, just get one or two guys who give actual proper feedback and stick with it. When you gather too much feedback (most of the time just a reflection of those peoples taste) your own focus fades out and you get confused. This is a horrible place to be. Don’t be surprised if you end up deleting the whole project because you want to please those ten people. The quickest way to get unhappy and depressed is to try to please everyone. Opinions from small-minded people kill your creativity in a second. When you want to know about a T-bone steak you ask the butcher, not the cleaner. Getting feedback can be bitter. You have to be a grounded mofo to stand strong when someone tells you your lifework is shit. You’ll get mad and tell yourself this person doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Only thing to do is; walk it off and sleep on it for a night. Calm down and check again. You’ll probably find that the feedback is legit. Congratulations, you just found somebody who is ace at giving feedback.

Getting started is often the hardest part of the quest. Once you’re going you’re on your way. The hardest part of exercise is going to the gym. Once you are there it’s all good. The hardest part of getting out of bed is, getting out of the damn bed! It’s a five seconds action that earns you half an hour if you are a snoozer. When I start a new record I always start with one single kick. This kick will be replaced later on in the process, but it got me started. I don’t have a clue where the record is going and that’s fine. I can spend six hours building a complete track or a week. I have no idea and I don’t even care if it takes me six hours or a week, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Same goes for learning a new craft. Enjoy the journey and if you suck, suck big time, if you fail, fail forward. Whatever you do keep going.

Michael Jordan said it best: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

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