1. Sitting for hours in the studio will kill your ears and perspective. Take regular breaks. By this I mean long enough that when you return, you can’t really remember what you were working on. As soon as you play the track, problems are obvious.
2. The more ideas you can build into your thought process before you start, the longer and stronger you can let them out. Before you start a project, take time to absorb music, feelings, environments, culture. Don’t continually run the creative tank on empty.
3. Music is art and art is your expression, not the listener you are trying to impress to buy it.
4. Try the tracks in different places, not for the usual and rather tedious “mix” reasons that are often talked about, but to see how the music reacts to a different visual and to discover its meaning. Cars are great for the musical journey. Pull up to the lights with the window down and the music on. Are you buzzing or cringing?
5. Listen back at a later date to something you believe is “finished”. Treat it as a starting point. Imagine the possibilities of what you could add to it once you have got over the pain you went through in the first place. Sometimes it is ridiculous how unfinished the piece feels when you add in one new part.
6. One at a time, remove each part of the track and listen. If at any point the track does not sound “worse”, try living without that part for an hour. Work on the track, and put the part back in. Sometimes that parts inappropriateness is a real ear opener.
7. Late night mixing tends to be more reverby and softer. Early morning harsher and drier. Mix the track at all points throughout the day to get the right balance.
8. Don’t force yourself to write. I still to this day don’t know why or how creative forces come and go, but it can be a great time to discover some new music, hardware or software, build sound libraries of your own or just experiment.
9. Music is all about the mind and the feeling, not the studio and the technical aspects thereof.
10. Work comfortably. Analyze your body, see if you are unconsciously stretching to reach a mouse, straining your neck to see a screen, leaving every night with aches.
11. Eat good stuff. Alertness and a contented feeling helps you in all life.
12. Listen through your entire musical career. Listen to the development of you as a human being in your music. Laugh at the early embarrassments, take pride in those tracks that took you further. If you find the progression stops, question why.
13. Get into writing music you normally wouldn’t, absorb a different style. Come back to what you enjoy doing once its finished. Sometimes it opens your mind to other music which opens up whole new worlds in your creativity, sometimes it weaves it way into your tracks and creates better music, sometimes it helps you love what you always did even more and inspires you to be more single minded and push your sound further. It’s all good.
14. Make something you love and bond with first, then enter the music industry and flog it for all it’s worth.
15. If the work flow falters and you find yourself aimlessly fiddling and going through endless sounds without any progress, get out of the studio! Learn to recognize this early to stop terminal creative damage on the piece you are writing. Often on your return, creative tiredness is the reason and you quickly realize no sound you listened to would ever have worked. Your conscious mind was oblivious but your unconscious mind knew.
16. Ask yourself what is the weakest part of your writing. Write a track that specifically deals with this. Don’t continue adding stuff until you have a eureka moment. Watch is flourish into all your future productions.
17. Listen to your favorite track of all time. Don’t try and emulate it. Discover why it is your favorite track. Write down the top 5 things that describe why. Write a piece of music with those words.
18. Music is one of the greatest gifts we have. Cherish every moment when you write and value how lucky you are. There are millions of people in this world who would probably love the chance to be free and creative, to make amazing music but are never given the opportunity. Stop being a lazy bugger, get off your backside and write the best piece of music you have ever written!