Its so easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest shiny object. I LOVE new toys, Maschine, Push, new guitar pedals. It’s all so cool and fantastic. But then I look at guys like P-thugg, Rosko, Damu the Fudgemunk I am blown away at
how much they get done with so little gear. Even the brilliant Jon Hopkins talks about using a very old computer from around 2001 to do all his work. I am the number one offender of wanting more toys, ways to make new sounds. But between what I already have I should be almost limitless. Its such a distraction constantly, new Pro tools this, new synth that. Point is, get to work. Get stuff done, focus on your craft.
Conversely I see guys like Junkie XL and Hans Zimmer and am blown away and how elaborate it all is. Just look at their six plus computer rigs, amazing.
And I suppose Hollywood film composers have totally different needs than someone making hip hop beats and the reality that those two get is that its all been done, the only thing you can do is have a unique sonic footprint. That’s what a producer and composers job is. Make a unique sound, create your world your way, no stock stuff. Don’t be a preset surfer MAKE SOMETHING FROM SCRATCH. Then do it again. Hans talks about spending all day on one Zebra patch HOLY crap. So get to work, with whatever you have and CREATE!
Doesn’t that blow your mind? One of the greatest living directors had writers block basically and could not come up with an idea for Kanye. It sure makes me feel better. If the amazing David Lynch can’t always hit it out of the park then maybe I should not be so hard on myself. Maybe everyone has a miss or can’t come up with an idea. Lynch was going to direct the video for “Blood on the leaves” one of my favorite Kanye songs. That would have been AMAZING.
I love seeing two brilliant creative minds working together. For example David Lynch worked with Trent Reznor on the “Came Back Haunted” video and it is fantastic! So come on David let’s get more of that!
You need to stay organized and professional to be taken seriously. Of course you can keep things fun and light when dealing with your clients, and be yourself of course. As long as you can deliver and provide top notch service, most clients are more than happy to joke around and have a great time dealing with you. I get a lot of questions about how I bid, and bill ETC so this is a super basic list of programs and services I use to make my income.
#1 Freshbooks. All my billing and invoices come through here, it keeps track of my time and is fantastic! If you keep it under three clients its free (there are ways to do this and have more than three clients FYI) Price FREE
#2 Basecamp. Basecamp is my life its $20 a month and well worth it. I work on music collaborations there. Planning for music videos, even planning new server installs with my tech consulting clients. Price $20 a month
#3 Gmail and Google docs. All my bids, spread sheets etc are kept here. I live in Google docs its amazing and I rarely use Microsoft office these days. Price FREE
#4 Blackmagic Davinci Resolve lite. I am moving from Premiere to this, I really dislike subscription models for software like this. Its so sad I have been a Premiere pro user for years and have done so many TV commercials, music videos and stupid short youtube videos in Premiere its not even funny. I really enjoy it, but its time to move on. Resolve lite is free and seems to be more powerful. I bet it will take me a year to move to it completely as learning a new software takes time when you have used another one for so many years. But this seems like a great move. Still need to replace Photoshop and then im out of Adobe subscription hell. Anyone have suggestions here? PS GIMP DOESN’T COUNT! Price of Resolve lite FREE
#5 Blackmagic Fusion lite. Another amazing free product from Blackmagic. I am moving to this from After Effects, years ago I ran Apples Shake program so I already know about node workflows, Fusion is MUCH more powerful than After effects and is a just a joy to experiment in. Price FREE.
#6 Blender. I don’t need 3d often, but when I do this is a no brainier. Price FREE
#7 Reason. Reason is my baby, I make almost all of my music in it, years ago I bought it for $400 I think and then upgrades are $130 so its not a very expensive. Price $400
I think that’s the main tools I use day in and day out to run the business and create content. My totally monthly price is basically $20 a month for Basecamp to run an entire business. Not bad, and it keeps costs WAY down!
I spend weeks of my life pouring over gear manuals, thinking about this plugin vs that plugin. Or pro tools vs cubase, push vs maschine. We live in such an amazing technological age it’s just ridiculous how many tools we have.
However I find they don’t push my art ahead. Sure maybe a new synth can be inspiring or a new compressor can help me get the sound out of my head a bit faster. But they can be a crutch. When I rely on the tools over honing my craft I fail every time.
If I don’t constantly focus on the fundamentals EVERY DAY I get distracted by stompboxes and software with dazzling features. I always find myself spinning my wheels. You must step back from the marketing and focus on the passion on the song or painting or whatever it is you make. Tools help get you there but that’s it. If you can’t create decent digital art with the free tools available online then hone your skills.
For me that means learning more about proper orchestration and melody writing. More about telling a story with music. Every time I finally grasp one concept I find myself lost with another. I once thought I was an expert, but now I know that beginners get the edge when it comes to creativity. Because they see all the possibilities. Possibilities the expert rules out early as stupid. How do you improve and keep a beginner’s mindset? It feels like a cruel game of tug of war, but there can never be a victor. So we move ahead. What else can one do?
Practice I suppose.
But that’s the rub, you can waste a life being distracted by the latest shiny object or you can get to work. Then do it again the next day, and the next.