5 things that may be holding you back from your full potential
After years of releasing music on many formats and for many labels, you would think that I just simply put records out now without too much consideration and thought. Yes sometimes that is often the case, but as I have gotten older I have become more picky and select in what I release, whereas in my younger days If I felt a track was strong enough, I would have banged up a three track white label and pressed up 500 copies within a fortnight.
Not an easy feat these days though, but you can get your music out instantly now online but it is against a backdrop of other records being released in their 1000's daily. But going back to my experience in releasing tracks, i find myself becoming more choosy than before.
I am terrible at sitting on music sometimes for years before it sees a release. Why do I do this? Well the answer is a variety of things that prevent me from being as regular in my release schedule as I would like. For the most part it is procrastination with me, but also the fact that I do produce a lot of different genres and this can be confusing sometimes as I have a few different recording names.
But I do still suffer with fear and the fear of releasing something that may be judged or misunderstood. This is a very common theme and for someone like me who has been at this game for almost 3 decades now it still lingers from time to time. But this for me is much rarer these days. In this article I hope to encourage you to break away from fear and get productive and more confident in your release schedule.
After all we are only human and no matter how experienced we are, there will always be a stumbling block or an excuse to prevent us from moving forwards. Below I am going to list a few things as to why you like me at times hold back on releasing tracks and making our music heard. All of the below I have allowed to get the better of me at some point in my musical journey, but I have never allowed it to fully deter me and my mission. So take the advice from below and do not fear the fear, just stand firm and go for it.
You Fear The Critics
Every artist that was ever successful has been criticized in some way. Be that their image or the latest album that didn't sell as fast as the last one etc. Those people who do the criticizing are only a small voice among millions.The legendary Pianist Ray Charles' Mother once said to him, "Ray, there are 8 Billion people on this planet. Not everyone is going to like what you do" When I heard this, it struck a chord with me and I soon started to think in this way.
It is OK for those outside of you to slate your work, or mock you among their peers, its what people do. The only thing you need to do is just put your best work out and do what is right by your artistic desires.
Whilst it is hard to receive negative comments, it is sadly a part of the game nowadays and whilst before the internet, the bad press came in magazines etc from snobby journalists, which most of the time they are wrong anyway. But the harsh reality now is that everybody has access to comment on your work and this can seriously cripple people and especially artists in the creative worlds where many suffer from anxiety and confidence as it is, so for some stranger to dis their new song online can be a kick in the teeth that they don't want to feel.
BUT.... If you let the faceless trolls get the better of you not wanting to release your music for fear of a few words, then you possibly need to take Ray Charles' mothers approach and just take those comments on the chin and brush them off the minute they arrive. you will also receive lots of good comments too, so remember that also.
Please also bear in mind that you are in this for you and not for them. Those comments that are nasty are usually written by people in pain themselves and are probably jealous of you having the guts to do something with your music anyway, so soldier on and put that track out. NOW.
You Are A Perfectionist
If you listen to many of the greatest recordings of all time, particularly in Electronic music, you will find that the tracks that stand out the most are often flawed with a few imperfections and tiny errors. Many of the earliest Detroit Techno classics and the Chicago House anthems of the mid to late 80's are absolutely horrendous in their production.
Rhythim is Rhythim Strings of Life by Derrick May was recorded on to a cassette as its final master and if you listen carefully to that track it is rough and ready and sounds very hissy. But that is the magic of that record and hence the reason as to why it is still revered as an anthem. It came out at a time when all of House music was new and exciting so it is obvious that there were bumps along the way as these producers were finding their feet in a new world of digital music production.
If you listen to those other records from that era, you will find many unprocessed sounds in the mix, but this again makes those records have that authentic sound which in Detroit and Chicago dance music production still stands as an aesthetic to its modern day releases by Moody Mann as an example where the imperfections are what make it sound unique.
So the point here is once you have a good balanced mix in your music and you have the levels set at -6db on a master channel with no extra processing on that mastering channel, then get it mastered using some online services such as LANDR or CLOUDBOUNCE. Once you receive a master back of your track you will more than likely be excited to get it out to the wider world.
Just don't be a perfectionist and try to make everything polished and clean as this can take away the shine of your authentic sound in your music. Just get it mixed to the best of your abilities or if you can afford it, pay an online mix engineer to take care of this, just get over the perfectionist attitude and remember that there is no such thing. What matters is the feel of your music rather than a perfectly polished mix.
You Produce Too Many Styles
With so much music available now than ever before, it is easy to be influenced by the amount of sub genres and styles that are interwoven into music these days. Back in the 90's for example, Vocal House music was what it was and Drum & Bass was just that too.
These days we have artists who make a variety of styles and can turn out albums with a whole host of styles on. But that is what producing an album can do for you. It gives you space to explore other genres, but if you are mostly a singles artist, it can be a frustrating and concerning issue if you make a deep Techno styled track one week and then the following week you are back on the Disco House sound, and it can lead to not releasing anything at all because you feel that you might alienate some of your fans? Or you may be seen as a confused artist who changes paths too often.
But look at some other peoples work that has branched out. For example Prince made a wide range of styles, all mostly influenced by Funk but he branched off into different areas also whilst not caring one bit about what the public thought.
I myself have recorded under a lot of different names, but as my RobJamWeb name I have released Chicago styled House and Disco House along with Deep Moody House and Slow Disco Edits. Don't be afraid to stretch yourself.
Another artist who never stuck to the same road was David Bowie. Yes he was a superstar and began back in the 1960's when music was a totally different world back then but the struggle was just as difficult. Before he was Ziggy Stardust he produced weird pop records in his early days about a laughing Gnome "Yes a weird title but you should check that out for a laugh HERE" Then by the end of the 70's he was in Berlin making cutting edge electronic music with Eno. By the 90's he was producing Drum & Bass records. Listen HERE
So take that risk and try releasing a different style. Who knows it might be the making of you and if it doesn't work out then you can always revert back to the genre you are known for. It really does not matter as nobody is getting out alive and with each passing day, you are missing an opportunity to be heard in different areas by different people. Just get it out there.
What is the worst that could happen? Oh you could get noticed by a new fan, and if the old fans say you suck, remember that you make music for you and if others like it then it is a bonus for you and you alone. If they don't then at least you still like what you did and that you can hold your head high and say yes I tried to branch off. It will be OK I can assure you.
Just release what feels good at the moment, because you should always try to be in the moment and not worry about what some stranger on You Tube writes in the comments box 6 months from now. By then you will have moved on anyway to newer music. Just go for it.
You Think You Aren't Good Enough
All musicians begin by trying to replicate their favourite artist who is already established. This is a true fact as we all begin by listening to music that instantly turns us on to our favourite genre. The saying goes that you don't choose music, it chooses you. I firmly believe that, as some styles of music just instantly connect with your soul and others instantly make you want to pull your ears off. It is just one of those unexplainable things in life.
For example if I hear death metal music I cant cope with it. It just does not do anything for me other than make me want to turn it off. But I highly respect it as a genre and that it has its place in the music field, it is just not for me. Whilst if you put on Disco or Funk music I will gladly nod my head to it. That is just the way it is and so when we get into music production we subconciously try and weave our favourite styles into the genre we produce. So for example I love 70's Funk and therefore I always try and input that into my House Music productions.
What this can do though is have a reverse effect where we end up trying to sound too much like our favourite artists, and this then creates a negative self doubt within ourselves because we feel that we arent up to the level of those we look up to. Of course you wont be at their level, because their journey is different to yours and it always will be.
No matter how much you try you will never play the keyboards as good as Herbie Hancock or the guitar quite like Jimmy Page, but that should not stop you from wanting to be a good player. But you should just change your view of wanting to be as good as them. Be as good as you can be and focus on that and your style and sound will improve around that naturally without the comparison.
You will then carve out your niche sound and become recognizable even if you try different genres. My sound is just that and you can tell I have produced a track whether it is Techno or Disco. It just has my stamp on it. Influenced by many others of course and the occasional sample loop but it is still my style.
So when you feel you are not good enough, take a step back and focus on your craft and not the heights of established artists as this will cripple your release schedule and your confidence. You are you and they are them. You and your music alone is what matters, not the established stars, they have their agenda and style and you have yours, so be proud of that and get it out. you are good enough.
You Are Afraid of Success
Hows that for a weird thought? You are afraid of success. Yes it is a true fact that some people are actually terrified of being popular or famous in some way. Why? because it means commitment and more hard work. It is so easy to sit back and just take your time and say to yourself, Oh I only do music for fun, as an escape from my day job blah blah blah.
I have been successful and I have been in the official pop charts so I know what I am talking about. Having a hit record requires you to get up at 5am to catch a train to London to do a TV interview. Maybe not so much now as we have Zoom, but when I was in the charts, I had to get off my ass and catch the first train to London and then get over to two or three TV stations in one day and either perform my song or do tedious and corny interviews.
So the price of success is that you will be in demand and that terrifies people. Yes their are people who crave fame, but they are mostly TV celebrity folk who are on a whole different level to musicians. But being popular in the music industry requires alot of dedication and effort.
If you manage to get a track out on a big label or onto mainstream radio, the chances are it will mean you will start to get DJ gig offers or live performance shows will be lining up to book you, which will then mean you have to brush up your act and up your game. So these things can prevent people from aiming for their goals and reaching their true potential.
If you feel that the above appeals to you or resonates with you in some way and you need some guidance to push yourself and your music forward. Then maybe you should try music mentoring with Waxadisc and get your confidence levels and creative flow up onto a level that you can be proud of.
Get in touch with RobJamWeb by hitting the image link below.
Look at it this way, you will die one day and on your death bed will you look back and say to yourself. I am so glad I never pushed my music in my younger years. No you will sit their crying about how you could have made a mark on the music world, but instead you chose not to through fear of a little hard work and effort.
Believe me I have done it and it is both hard work and fun at the same time. Even if it lasts for a short time, it is worth it because who knows what will come from it and who you will meet who could push you to the next level. You make music for fun and that's great and their are many out there that do it for fun on the side from the day job.
Nothing wrong with that but I believe even those people should release their stuff. I wonder how many great tracks and songs are sat on hard drives that could be hit songs, but will never see the light of day due to this kind of fear? Do not let your music be in that pile of dust unheard. Get it out.
So that is it for now. So what are you waiting for? get on with it and get that music out, no matter what people say or think, it is only their opinion and it really does not matter. Even if they are positive about your music, they are only having an opinion.
Don't be afraid and don't fear the fear of what might be, just put out your best music and let it ride the wave. As the late great DJ & Producer of God like status Mr Andrew Weatherall had tattooed on his arms. "Fail We May, Sail We Must" Go forth and good luck and most of all enjoy it all.
Thank you RobJamWeb
Waxadisc Music June 2022