To save or scrap those unfinished beats?
We all know that feeling when, during an innocent folder click through, we discover a mess of unfinished beats.
In a quest to avoid facing that queasy feeling of failure, I used to think I have to finish everything I start.
OMG do you know what kind of pressure that is?!
My weekends were spent finishing things – things I once started in the name of fun but that had morphed into a heap of hard, frustrating work.
The same happened to me with my music all the time.
So in order for me to stay sane in the studio, I started scrapping sub-par ideas (and just plain old shit ones) left right and center in order focus on the ones that really moved me.
Before, I used to be too afraid to scrap anything - in case it would be useful.
But cultivating my intuition for knowing when to scrap a song and when to start fresh has been an incredibly valuable skill in the art of making beats.
And it has made the world of a difference in my life too.
Now, now, I'm not talking about never finishing anything you start.
I'm talking about discerning which songs are worth finishing, and which are not.
Some ideas are just dead end ideas.
They aren’t leading anywhere now, and they never will.
Like my idea to make an online course teaching people to levitate:
Even if I started that venture today, when common sense hits and I realize I’m wasting my time (and that day will come), it’s better to re-calibrate and invest my time into something else, moving forward.
The alternative is to pigheadedly stick with what I started, purely because I started it, and get nowhere slowly.
Same with music. Some dead end ideas are better left alone (or in the digital trash), so that you can invest your time better, elsewhere.
How to spot a dead end musical idea
There is one non-negotiable thing I listen out for when I make beats: the Vibe.
When I make beats, I want to create a specific vibe. If I don’t feel that vibe, the music is dead to me.
I don’t care how much time I put into it. I don’t care how ‘clever’ the music is.
Click – delete!
I either scrap the beat completely, or keep the project for a future beat
but only if I feel it has genuine potential and I'm curious about it.
If u attempt the latter, do not - I repeat: Do Not - just let the project rot away on your hard drive (together with the other old, musty, untouched beats from 2009).
Decide to revisit the project on a future date (set yourself a deadline or reminder if you must) OR delete it immediately.
The headspace I gain from this approach is immense.
I also enjoy my beats more (making and listening to them) AND I am more prolific than ever before.
Hell yes bitch!
The sooner you gain discernment in spotting and killing dead end musical ideas,
the less frustrating your time in the studio will be.
Less frustration in the studio = more fun in the studio = more time making beats = more beats (probably dope ones too).
I’ve just handed you my winning formula. You’re welcome 🐢🏆
Okay, look. To a certain extent, any idea is salvageable.
Knowing when to persevere on an idea is as important and knowing when to cut it (like cheese).
But do you want to spend 1 month trying to fix an idea you like but isn’t working,
and then maybe end up with something you can at best tolerate?
Or do you want to trust your instincts, cut your losses, and invest in something that you may actually love and be really proud of?
I’m not saying don’t finish beats. DO finish beats.
But I propose being a little more intentional about when to fold on an idea, and when to double down on it.
~lil miss beats
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