Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

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innerstatejt
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Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by innerstatejt » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:02 pm

Hi Friends,
I wanted to share a recent post that has received quite a positive response. I'll give you the choice to read it here, or use the link:
http://www.musicsoftwaretraining.com/bl ... r-quality/

Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

You’ve heard it over and over how the quality of your creative work is so much more important than quantity, but I think it’s time we turn this belief system on it’s head. Not only is it wrong when making music, it can end up both cripple your creative output, but also lessen the quality of your results.

I’m sure you can give me a hundred reasons why you shouldn’t haphazardly throw creations out into the world, most of which would be making assumptions about what you are truly capable of. You would also be making an assumption that everything you complete needs to be shared with the world. It doesn’t.

I don’t believe that all creations are meant to be shared, but I do believe that creating a habit of not finishing songs becomes a big part of your creative process. If you quit working on a song when it gets difficult or tedious, you never build the tools and habits to get past this point & you’ll never finish anything you start.

Let’s be honest. None of us wants to be a shitty artist. The desire to be great is deeply ingrained in each of us. The fear of sucking at something we are passionate about can either lead us to greatness or mediocrity, depending on our perspective.

Repetition makes us better at whatever habit is being repeated. This means that if we have the habit of quitting every time something isn’t working out, you become a habitual quitter. On the other hand, if you are repeating the process of completing your work & accepting where you’re at, you can turn your weaknesses into strengths.



Nobody starts off a black belt

Are you going to refuse to face an opponent until you’re the best in your class? If this supposed to save you the embarrassment of losing? That’s a pretty stupid approach. Those who take this approach obviously haven’t come to the realization that the only opponent is yourself & that your only goal is to be better than you were yesterday. By taking any other approach, you are doomed to failing by default. Not taking action or quitting before you reach your goal is failing yourself & your true potential. I haven’t heard of any great martial artists who didn’t at one time get their asses handed to them. That is specifically how you learn & get better.

If you are refusing to finish a song because it’s not as good as (fill in the blank of some artist who has failed their way to greatness), you are facing the wrong opponent. If you are expecting your first songs to be amazing, you will be grabbing at something you aren’t tall enough to reach yet. The only way to grow, is to keep stretching yourself. Seeing through your failures to completion & noticing improvements in each attempt is how you grow.



The secret to becoming great

If you seek quantity over quality, you will get both.

By creating the habit of seeing things through, you can’t help but improve the quality of your work. Like I said earlier, the desire to be great is already wired into us. It’s the natural outcome to actions repeated.

You also become great by learning to make decisions quickly instead of over thinking the 10,000 options available to you at every moment. Through experience, you’ll find that there a rarely wrong decisions, just better decisions. A wrong decision can often become a brave & unique technique with a few tweaks.

You know the cliche, the only bad decisions are the ones you don’t make. This isn’t surgery. Nobody gets hurt if your aren’t perfect. Besides, perfection is boring & overrated.

Let’s say you idolize Mozart & you put everything you do up to his work. If your goal is to sound as good as Mozart before you will consider a song complete or worth sharing, you’re going to be doomed to mediocrity. Not because you have bad taste in music & a great artist to model yourself after, but that you will never be satisfied with your own work.

You’ll never feel what it’s like to have someone love your music, even if, in your eyes, it’s not up to your standards. John Lennon didn’t like the sound of his own voice. Can you imagine if he had waited until he loved his own voice before sharing his music with the world? What a shame that would be.

The takeaway

To wrap things up, here are some thoughts you should take away from this

1. The more music you make, the better the quality will become.

2. The more music you finish, the easier finishing music will become.

3. Everybody struggles to sound good when they start

4. The faster you make decisions, the less chance you have of getting stuck or having writer’s block.

5. The more decisions you make, the better your decision making instincts will become

6. We will always aim for quality, whether we make it a conscious goal or not.

7. You’re only ever competing with yourself. Only aim to be better than you were yesterday.

8. Quantity becomes quality over time.

Happy music making,

Jason
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ObtuseMoose
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by ObtuseMoose » Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:04 am

innerstatejt wrote: If you are refusing to finish a song because it’s not as good as (...), you are facing the wrong opponent.
This is something I struggle with a lot. Not so much as a reason for not finishing, but rather getting discouraged because I'm not as good as someone else. Judgement can be a motivator, but self judgement can also be a killer. I try to keep in mind the famous video where Ira Glass talks about getting good at creating. He says the fact that you can tell that what you're making doesn't measure up is a good sign; it means you have good taste. And the way to close the gap between your taste and your ability is to do a huge volume of work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI23U7U2aUY

Thanks for posting this.

--
Moose
"all the musical ability of a blocked nostril"

oblique strategies
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by oblique strategies » Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:29 am

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.
Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

~Samuel Beckett

foxymethoxy
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by foxymethoxy » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:21 pm

oh boy, long winded pontificating about correct choices for making music from someone who sells overpriced tutorials for morons who can't RTFM...

look man, i don't particularly disagree with any of the lil nugz of info that you tapped out on your keyboard, but this whole thing reads more like some harebrained self help book style ego trip than particularly useful info for anyone trying to either "make it" or just make tunes. it's like you are writing things that you need yourself to read to feel better about your progress, which according to your bio on your webpage involves playing in some punk/rock bands in headier highschool days, and now making cut and paste "tech trance/progressive house" that hernan catteneo played for like two minutes at a show once. wow, you're really climbing the ladder! pretty soon you'll hit 300 soundcloud followers, such a major milestone for any modern artist...

i know i'm busting your balls here but it's for a good reason - you basically have no reason to be lecturing to the young guns out there. if you knew the "secret to becoming great" you sure as fuck wouldn't be posting on ableton forums - you'd probably be cutting a rad track or playing a dope party or engaging with other artists outside of the internet to make the party happen.

how about these tips instead:
- quality over quantity, unless you like hernan catteneo
- no new jack
- stop trying to sell your live packs, get a real job and make better tracks
- don't read lists on the internet

Observer-A
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by Observer-A » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:13 pm

Awesome post!
Thank you!
Ableton Crackhead and Habitual Drum Hitter
Observer-A.com
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lo.key
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by lo.key » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:51 pm

very well said!




@foxy: a very poor response to good basic advice. What a waste.

thegoodsirjames
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by thegoodsirjames » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:06 am

I think the OP's advice is good and worth sharing. It reminds me of the anecdote in the book 'Art and Fear' (worth a read in my humble opinion). In the anecdote, half a pottery class, 'group A' is challenged to make the highest quality pot they can in one week (or something like this). The other half, 'group B' is challenged to make as many pots as possible in the same time. And, you guessed it, the people in group B made the highest quality pots. It's a neat way of making the same point.

re:dream
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by re:dream » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:31 am

foxymethoxy wrote:oh boy, long winded pontificating about correct choices for making music from someone who sells overpriced tutorials for morons who can't RTFM...

etc

8O 8O

Ooh, someone got out of bed on the wrong side this morning :roll:

Personally i thought it was a great and thought provoking post. In terms of unlocking creative potential, and also just having fun making music, innerstate's advice is spot on. I may not buy the racks (more because I have more fun trying to make my own contraptions) but that post, as well as many of the other ones on innerstate's website, is on the button as far as creative flow is concerned. Then again, maybe I am one of those morons. :roll:

Destro
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by Destro » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:09 am

Excellent post.

It reminded of this quote by Ira Glass:

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

watch the whole thing here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI23U7U2aUY

oblique strategies
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by oblique strategies » Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:36 am

Again, the age-old distinction between Art & Craft.

Art may not be able to be "practiced", but craft certainly can. And anyone making art will most likely benefit from practicing their craft.

re:dream
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by re:dream » Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:25 am

Destro wrote: “What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.
...

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

watch the whole thing here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI23U7U2aUY
Word

But the amazing thing is how, while a lot of the time, what I produce is not the music I want to be making... every once in a while, more through serendipitous accident than anything else, something comes together creatively that is so much more than I expected. And I hear the echoes and intimations of the music that was calling me. That's one of the most satisfying things in the world.

crumhorn
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by crumhorn » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:08 am

oblique strategies wrote:Again, the age-old distinction between Art & Craft.

Art may not be able to be "practiced", but craft certainly can. And anyone making art will most likely benefit from practicing their craft.
Start with Art, subtract the Hype, if anything remains it is Craft.
"The banjo is the perfect instrument for the antisocial."

(Allow me to plug my guitar scale visualiser thingy - www.fretlearner.com)

doghouse
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by doghouse » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:47 pm

foxymethoxy wrote:how about these tips instead:
- don't read lists on the internet
Oops, I shouldn't have read this 8)

Dchild
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by Dchild » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:09 pm

I highly recommend 'The the start now, finish fast course' developed by veteran electronic producer Mike Monday. I'm finding it truly fascinating and yes it is helping.

I AGREE - Quantity is more important than quality. The seek of perfection leads to self doubt and fear of rejection. NO OUTPUT.

http://www.mikemonday.com/

Going through the process of finishing tracks build up your ability to make decisions, and stick with them.

simmerdown
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Re: Why Quantity is more important than Quality in music making

Post by simmerdown » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:42 pm

agree fully with the OP...imo it's a percentage thing as well, no matter what you do only a small percentage of your work is going to have that 'thing' that makes it really good, alot of times that 'something' isnt because of quality (imo it's arrangement, the most overlooked, essential aspect of music)...so, make a lot, and work on discerning as early as possible in the process whether something has potential, or whether it is shit and will always be shit regardless how much you refine it (add quality)...move on to the next without regretting time 'wated'...its not wasted if you learned something

this all ties into the "Inspiration Myth" thread from a while back too...somehow, but it would take too many words to link it properly

and also brings to mind my fav quote, which is taped to my wall:

"You have to show the Muse you are serious" - Johnny Cash

(lifted from an interview where he was talking about how the few songs he was really proud of came out of intense writing periods where he wrote tons of songs, then separated the wheat from the chaff..)

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