5 Bad Habits That Songwriters With Home Studios Need To Quit
Being aware of our bad habits can bring about change and get us back on track.
Here are the 5 Bad Habits That Songwriters With Home Studios Need To Quit.
Guest post by: DIONA DEVINCENZI
1. BUYING MORE GEAR
In the quest for the perfect plug-in or new gadget to make your sounds better, it’s easy to start going down the rabbit hole. I know this because I’ve done it. There are so many products out there, new ones that become available each day. My inbox gets stuffed with new product emails and videos and my tendency can be to get lost in exploring all the latest and greatest. I’ve had to call to task my “gear lust”. What I need to remember, though, is to keep writing and focused on creating songs. Looking at all the latest and greatest stuff is fine, but in balance with the goal of creating. It shouldn’t be taking up your whole day. Most of the day, IMHO, should be spent writing and re-writing. All of the best gear in the world can’t write a song or even improve one.
This leads into the second bad habit of Home Studio Owning Songwriters. Read on.
2. NOT FOCUSING ENOUGH ON SONGWRITING
I mentioned that exploring new products and gear websites can be a time sucker, but then add it to all of these: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Google, e-mail, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, forums… the list goes on. These days, songwriters, artists and musicians must take on the role of both business and creative. We have to straddle the line between business and art, and both are important. So, what comes first ? To be sure, it is the music which makes all the business stuff even necessary. It drives or should drive all the other stuff. Not the other way around. Sometimes, as songwriters, we get really focused on how to “market our songs” and less interested in how to improve our craft. All the great marketing in the world won’t matter if the songs aren’t good. So if you’re going to be stingy about something, be stingy about your ‘creative’ time. Sit down and allocate a percentage of your week to each of the areas that need to be addressed. That’s the first first step toward keeping to your goals. For instance, I worked out three areas which most songwriters and producers have to focus on in order to be successful, according to how I have allocated my time. Here’s my breakdown:
That’s a while lot of stuff to do! I know that some people advocate that ‘creative time’ and ‘business time’ should be a 50/50 split, but I don’t agree. I believe the weight should be on the writing, which is why it gets 50% of my time. A breakdown of how this might work on a weekly basis (assuming you are going to work a 40 hour work week ), would look something like this:
MONDAY – write
TUESDAY – write
WEDNESDAY – write
THURSDAY – produce
FRIDAY – admin
Now, this is just a simple calendar based upon the percentages of how time is allocated to those 3 areas. In reality, though, a lot of the admin stuff I do (like reading and answering e-mails, texts, posting to social) needs to be done on a daily basis. So, on any given day, I might actually have chunks of time allocated to writing, admin and producing. How you slice it really doesn’t matter as much as keeping to the 50/25/25/ rule . There might be some weeks where certain time-sensitive projects might tip the scales temporarily more towards administration. Or production or writing. But again, the overall ratio should stay the same.
If you take a look at how your time is spent and the percentage of time dedicated to writing isn’t enough, then it might be time to re-evaluate . What are you goals? Are you achieving them? Are you being as productive as you can? Are you still aligned with your primary passion?
3. TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH YOURSELF
Truth is, I spend way more than 40 hours per week on my business. I think most songwriters would tell you the same. The demands are huge and you have to work your butt off, constantly. But there are only so many hours in the day, and it’s easy to become frustrated when you realize you can’t do it all. The only solution to being more productive, with only so many hours in the day, is to outsource the stuff you can’t get to, or don’t want to do. The biggest resistance to this is not wanting to spend money or losing creative control. But the fact is, sometimes you have to let other people do the stuff you can’t get to. Otherwise, you WILL NEVER GET TO IT. So, be smart and let go of the reigns a little. The smartest and most successful people have a team around them to help shoulder the responsibilities. If you can’t produce everything yourself, then hire people whose expertise you can rely on to do that for you. Even if you CAN do it, it doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
4. GEEK SPEAK
“Geek speak” is fine when you’re with a group of people who actually understand what EQ and parallel compression are, but don’t bring it up and expound on it to people who don’t have home studios because, more than likely, they won’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Plus, it’s annoying.
5. LIVING IN A BUBBLE
A home studio, by definition, is usually where you live and work. You spend hours upon hours in that space, and sometimes you don’t even talk to anyone. But it’s important to get out of your bubble. To meet people in the industry, to get inspired by other people creating art, and to “fill the well,” creatively speaking. It’s easy to live in your “jammmies” and slippers, but stepping out once in awhile is important to forging new relationships, alliances, collaborations, knowing what’s going on in the industry, and so on. Stop looking at your screen and get back at actual faces. At least once in a while.