Here are some ideas for staying motivated in songwriting and making music. New Year has started; therefore, I thought it would be nice to list how to achieve your goals while staying motivated. This blog post writes steps from a songwriting and music-making perspective. But these can also be utilized in other things you are interested in. Here are some ideas to progress in your work.
When you have your work/school/hobbies and other obligations, it is good to plan your time for what you want to achieve in the future. These steps have helped me in my hobbies and profession (full-time work in office 🙂 ), so I use these also when making music. So here we go! 🙂
1. Learn New Things
This one is my favourite because learning new things is fun and exciting! You can discover the right way for you to learn in different ways. There are a lot of online course platforms, books and audiobooks. Also, you can learn from web tutorials, and Youtube is an excellent source of learning. You can learn a lot from friends and people you are in contact with.
Everyone has their way of learning: I’ve found the best way to learn for me is to discover a little every day. If there is a lot to learn in a very short time, it’s not always efficient. So it’s good to know how you learn the best way, so finding the best style for you is the most important.
You learn your whole life new things. In music-making, learning new stuff is endless. Here are some topics to study depending on what are your goals:
- music theory
- music production and mixing: I’ve really enjoyed the courses from PML (Production Music Live). There are for example Ableton Live (DAW), mixing and mastering courses.
- songwriting, toplining
- playing an instrument/singing techniques
Practising often and consistently is the key to developing a better skill level. After learning, practice your skills and return to what you’ve learned before. Sometimes some things are easy to learn; on the other hand, some are more difficult to grasp and may take time to understand. But the feeling when you know and have learned a more difficult thing is rewarding. So practice depending on your goals – sometimes it is wise to drop something out if it doesn’t fill a purpose. It is okay to let go and return later – it might be easier then.
3. Have a Routine
Learning and practising are essential to repeat. Making routine in learning, practising and finalizing your goals is necessary. Because if you want to be better than before, you have to keep up practising and learning constantly. The daily routine can be small depending on the life situation – try to adjust it according to the goals. When I’m busy with other things in life, I try to find at least a short amount of time even when it seems impossible, so the routine doesn’t stop. It is then easier to come back to learning and practising.
4. Set Goals
Make some goals and think about the timeline when you want to have achieved something. I encourage you to make the goals as precise as you can. For example, you can think of the number of songs/song ideas you want to complete in a month or have a gig in your hometown in a few years and choose where it would be. It can be anything you want to achieve! I find it easier to set big goals further away and think of smaller milestones that lead to more extensive plans.
Sometimes plans don’t work out, and you have to adjust your goals, and you might want to change them. It is rewarding to see the small milestones get done when time goes forward – bigger goals then get nearer. You are on your way to more significant milestones slowly but surely. This way, you see the bigger picture, and you can enjoy the road to your goals the whole way.
It is good to return regularly to look through your goals and see where you are. This way, you see your progress in your skills, which is always rewarding when you have worked hard.
5. Remember to Rest and Do Other Things
It is essential to rest and do other things for work, inspiration, creative and artistic processes. Take the time you can for the things you enjoy. Relaxing and doing other things you like also helps you get inspired and be creative. I think you stay focused and motivated in what you do this way.
6. Getting Feedback
It is vital to get feedback and advice from more experienced people to make better songs, music production, or what you’ve set out to do. The most important thing is to enjoy and like what you’re doing. Adding to this constructive feedback develops your skills. So be ready to get feedback and reflect it to your skill level – you slowly learn, and no one is ready in one day for their skills to be outstanding. It takes time to be better, so be patient, work your skills and be open for feedback.
7. Getting Things Done and Timetables
You have set up your goals, and you are ready for feedback. Now it is time to get things done and get the ball rolling. I’ve found that it’s good to have a deadline for making a remix or a song. You can, for example, take part in competitions: then you have a deadline, and you have to let go of your work because there is a time limit. I usually work better with a deadline because I divide the work into smaller units.
For example, you could divide the work of making a song demo the way you prefer: making the song idea in 1-2 days, making a rough demo in 1-3 days, having 1-2 break days, then mixing and mastering two days. The time you need depends 1) on your skill level, 2) the time you can use for the project, 3) if someone is helping you and 4) the quality you’re aiming for in your work.
Metapop is also an excellent way to contact other music-making people and support each other’s work. You can find remix and song competitions in Metapop and ask for feedback from other Metapop-users. Another website with contests, and you can get feedback for your work that I haven’t yet tried but will try out is, Skiomusic.
8. Finding Inspiration
Different things inspire everyone. For myself, I can get inspired by other artists’ music, nature, different cultures, travelling, arts, movies/ TV, dancing, life experiences, sounds etc. I get the most inspiration from things I’m curious about, which can start the creative process.
Remember to write down or record your inspiration when it hits you in a way that is efficient for you. Then you have a place to pick inspiration if you get stuck or are out of ideas.
9. Listening to Music
I try to listen to a lot of music to know what is going on in the music industry and find inspiring songs and sounds. It is also essential to listen to songs that you don’t like that much, in that case, especially if you make music. I find this develops your musical ear to different genres and appreciation towards them. And you can maybe find something new and inspiring for you.
If you make music for a specific genre, it is good to understand your genre the best. Also, listen to different genres to get a broad understanding of music, listen to music from many other countries and get to know music from all decades.
I like to discover new music releases and artists/bands that I haven’t yet listened to. A nice way to discover new music in K-pop is through Youtube channels. Some of my favourites channels are K-Ville Entertainment and Octo Pops: they have rankings/votings/lists of old and new K-pop songs. If you want to see what were my favourite songs from 2021 check out my blog “K-pop top 8 favourite songs so far in 2021”.
10. Connecting With People
Connecting with people with different experiences and backgrounds in music is always exciting and rewarding. You get new ideas, learn from other people’s experiences, and you can help each other in your way to be better at what you are doing. I think this has been the most difficult one in these covid times.
Collaborating and co-working is the key to making music. The activities can vary widely depending on where you are in the world. Some ideas for connecting with people could be online platforms and groups, for example, in Discord; online music courses, your local workshops/song camps etc.
So here are some of my thoughts on staying motivated and productive while seeing how you’ve achieved your goals. Some goals might take years to accomplish, so your best friend is patience and working on consistently. Staying inspired and motivated helps you when things are more complicated in life in general. Getting a mentor is always great if you have someone to ask. And also, talking about these things I’ve listed above, with people with similar interests, helps you a lot. I hope this was helpful for someone and please let me know what keeps you motivated 🙂
Next time, I’ll be back with a K-pop content blog. I hope you’re all safe and healthy – stay inspired and motivated whatever goals you have! 🙂