I used to struggle with creative blocks when I first started as a music producer. Today I can’t even remember the last time I had a creative block. I thought I would share with my fellow producers what I did so that I never have beat block again. Here are all the things that I did that helped me.
1. Plow Through Your Creative Block
This is very important for a new producer. When you feel like you have a creative block, keep creating. Even if what you create is garbage. Just trash it and start a new project. Eventually you will make something that sparks some creativity and makes you immediately sit up in your seat. It may take some time until that happens. It could be 30 min, 1hr, or in one case it took me 4 hours! The reason you need to do this is because it will benefit you physiologically. What most people do when they get hit with a creative block is to give up and walk away. You then train yourself to fear experiencing a creative block and when it hits you again, your done. When you consistently plow through these blocks you look at them totally different. Because you have gotten past them before you feel confident that you can do it again. Over time you will notice that the time that your creative block lasts becomes shorter and shorter.
2. Take a break and do something physical.
You want to stay persistent and not walk away from a creative block. However sometimes you experience a creative block when your mind becomes too cloudy. You’ll know if this is the case when feel overwhelmed, usually when your feeling stressed and distracted from other things in life. The best thing to do in this situation is to get away from your computer for 30-60 minutes. Hit the gym, go for a run or play sports. The physical activity helps to clear your mind.
3. Listen to other music in different genres.
If you feel like you are creating the same thing over and over you need new ideas to spark some inspiration. The best way is to get inspiration from other music. Not from the music in your usual play list. Use Pandora radio stations to explore new genres of music. Listen to different playlists on Spotify and YouTube. By exposing yourself to different music you will subconsciously pick up new elements to add to your own music. Besides Rap, I also like to listen to Smooth Jazz, New Age, Latin (Reggaeton, Merengue, Cumbia) EDM, Orchestral, Video Game/Movie Soundtracks, Reggae, and some Pop and Rock.
4. Use tools and resources to help you spark ideas.
Today there are so many resources and tools that you would not even be able to use them all! There are loop kits, midi kits, stem kits and sound presets that you can use to create new ideas. There are a ton of vst plugins to help you with writing melodies and chord progressions. The possibilities are practically endless! Use them, they are at your disposal.
(I bought a tool a couple years ago that helps you come up with ideas for melodies/chord progressions but I don’t even use it anymore!)
5. Establish and perfect a process.
I created a process to create beats and I have been tweaking it over time. I follow this process whenever I start a new beat. From drafting the initial ideas to the final mix. I even have a process on how I organize my projects withing my DAW and also on how I name and organize files on my computer. Creating a process not only allows you to work more efficiently and faster but it also makes it go a lot more smoothly.
6. Learn to play your favorite tunes.
Something incredible happens when you learn to play your favorite melodies on an instrument. You will start to notice that it becomes easier for you to write your own melodies. Even when you draw your favorite melodies into your DAW it will help you write your own when you see the melodies visually if your the type to draw them in instead of playing them.
7. Learn music theory.
Some people will say that you don’t need to learn music theory to be a music producer. I disagree, after I started learning music theory my music improved greatly! Don’t let someone else try to hold you back, being a musician without knowing music theory is like being a race car driver and not knowing how to drive. People say they don’t use music theory, but even if your using scales then your using music theory!
Make sure you are well rested, had enough sleep, drinking water and eating cleanly. If your not, you will notice that it’s going to be harder for you to focus and it will take you longer than usual to complete tasks.
I’ve used all these tips at the start of my career and I can say that I no longer experience any creative blocks anymore.