View Profile Michael-Flaherty


McFarland, Wisconsin

Joined on 12/17/06

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Do you have any advice for people who are starting their music Career? If you do I would like some advice for making music in general?

I've never given anybody music career advice before, let's see how this goes.

I think the best advice is one that addresses a particular problem. If you know where you want to end up in your music career and you know how to get there and you know what's stopping you, you don't need advice you just need patience.

For me (and for most people it seems) what always got in my way was lack of motivation, due to not knowing what my end goal was (which I still don't really), due to wanting everything I make to be perfect (which I still do), due to music making sometimes feeling like a slog and hard work instead of feeling like a fun creative outlet (which always creeps up on every single project). What helped me get over that oddly enough was advice I got from a James Gunn tweet "Finish what you start". If you can hold on to the 'just get across the finish line' mentality, that helps me shed perfectionism and generally stay out my head and work on music. Getting involved in contests forces this mentality which is good! Also I have almost 2 decades of making music and building up an arsenal of tools and techniques so making music for me is going to be straight up easier for me than for anybody just starting out unfortunately, so if you feel like you're unskilled and you aren't getting anywhere, we've all been there and eventually you won't be if you stick to it.

If you're issue is not being able to build up an audience, apparently you're supposed get really good at a particular niche and then pump out that and only that type of content on a persistent basis. That's what algorithms like. I'm not going to bother with that, that sounds exhausting.

If you're issue is getting stuck/getting writer's block that stops you from completing songs, I have 2 pieces of advice.
* You don't want to be constrained when you're creating music. If you're working on a song you may be tempted to leave things as it is because you may be afraid that if you delete anything or change anything, it'll never sound as good as it once did. That's why for my projects, I put my project file in a dedicated folder, name that project "1" and then constantly create new versions. So I can always delete/change whatever I want freely. Ironically I rarely go back to those old versions, but having them exists helps a great deal.
* Music making and all creative work is problem solving and you should approach it the way you solve any problem at a high level. Figure out your problem, gather up solutions, test, measure, repeat. This maybe doesn't sound relevant to music, how do you measure the success of trying out a different musical phrase or whatever? But you can measure it, albeit imprecisely by just feeling out whether it accomplishes your goal or not. This is very much the mentality I carry when creating music in every stage of the process.

If you're problem is you are a complete beginner and you have no idea where to start or how to progress my advice is the super generic advice: learn the fundamentals and practice with purpose.

Hopefully this helps and good luck!

Addendum to music advice, in case you were hoping to be absolutely flooded with information:

In addition to the point that creative work is problem solving. Always be conscious of what the most important problem is and work on that. We tend to gravitate towards solving problems that we feel comfortable with instead of the more fundamental ones. e.g. if you have a lower-level problem like A.) "The drums have a bit too much high end" and a higher-level problem like B.) "I don't know if this song needs drums or not", work on the higher-level problem first. Also don't work on it too much! Say you work on the drum part enough to conclude that it should be included in the song, don't continue working on them! Your higher-level problem just became the lower-level problem and you should find what problem you have now to be the most important.

Last point: when it comes to the writing music there are theoretical ways and practical ways and you need to utilize both of them in the writing process. For example: say you're making a movie, you can write a script, which is making the movie entirely in a theoretical space because you can imagine anything and put it in the movie, or you can pick up a camera and just start filming things and experimenting. These both have their advantages:

Pros of writing in theoretical space (for me that's jotting down melodies on the piano, sometimes overlaying that with my recorded vocals mimicking drums or whatever, and imagining what the final arrangement could be):
* Creatively free
* Fast
* Creating an outline like this is a guide that gives me direction and helps me complete my song

Pros of writing in practical space (actually opening up reaper, loading up my VSTs and creating bits of what could be the real song):
* Ideas created here are automatically tested against reality
* Could lead to ideas I wouldn't have come up with on my own
* You need to end up here at some point to create the final result

So basically: make a plan but be flexible.

@Michael-Flaherty thank you so much for the advice!