One of the biggest challenges any musician faces is how to be more creative. All the gear, tools, and toys in the world won’t help if you’ve got no ideas. So what do you do when you’re feeling uninspired? Creativity is a skill just like any other. It can be honed and developed. All it takes is practice. So we’ve compiled our best mental exercises, tips and tricks to get your creative muscles flexin’.
Ways To Get Inspired
Sometimes all it takes is something new to play with to have some fresh ideas. But that doesn’t mean you have to run to the store and drop cash on a new synth - there are tons of free VSTs and apps available for download that will get your creative mojo working.
Just a few of them include:
A guitar teacher in your pocket. Uberchord sonically analyzes what you play and provides instant feedback, and also includes a comprehensive list of every guitar chord known to humans.
The simplest 8-pad controller ever made. Just record a sample or loop into each of the pads. Then tap the pad to play it back. Infinite jams to be had.
Ohm Force Symptohm PE
Any VST that has a preset called ‘Dirty Maurice’ is bound to catch our attention. And it didn’t disappoint when we started playing with it. Highly recommended if you wanna start messing around with the sounds of Planetary Motion, Evil Bass, or Dirty Paula.
Music is an art like any other. And to get inspired, you don’t need to look purely to musical sources. Visit a local art museum and get inspired by great paintings, photographs, sculptures or installations.
Ways to challenge yourself
Accept these challenges, then make up your own:
Try a new DAW
There are free trials available for almost any DAW out there. Since you’ve grown accustomed to your primary DAW, trying something new will shake up your workflow a little bit. And a new way to work might just bring out some fresh ideas. Use Ableton? Try Logic.
Try to recreate a song you love
Good artists borrow. Great artists steal. And by reverse-engineering a track you love, you’ll not only get some great ideas, but you’re sure to learn a thing or two about production along the way. Then use the ideas generated during this process to make yourself a new and different track.
Try to make a song from start to finish in 1 hour
A bit of a time crunch can light a fire under you. Many creatives say they make their best work in the hour before their deadline. So put a little pressure on yourself with a one-hour deadline for your next track. You’ll learn where your workflow could be improved and hopefully get inspired at the same time. Even if you don’t finish the track, you’ll have a great building block for the next time you’re in the studio.
Sometimes to create something new, we have to try something new. If you challenge yourself a little bit each day, you’ll learn something new every time.
LANDR as a creative tool
So your mix is coming along smoothly by this point. But there are always those looming questions... How do you know if your mix is up to snuff? Does it sound like other good songs? Is everything sitting together properly? Use a Mix Reference. There’s a couple ways to do this:
Do you love the Rolling Stones? Throw Street Fighting Man into your DAW session as track one and reference it while you go. Is your kick sitting like theirs? Is your guitar cutting like Keith’s?
Export and LANDR your track often during the mix process. Take notes on what’s sounding right or wrong. Go back to your mix and fix.
There’s a saying that the last 10% of the job is actually 90% of the work. Use LANDR to avoid this creative block. The only way you’ll know you’re done is to hear it mastered.
This one is huge. Ever heard the saying, “two heads are better than one?” Well, that depends on the heads that are involved. But one thing is for sure - it’s a lot easier to be creative when you have someone to talk things through with. Not to mention, they’ll bring some new ideas to the table, too.
There are lots of ways to find collaborators to work with. The easiest one is to pick up your phone, call a friend, and tell them to come over to your studio. If that won’t work for you, try one of these communities:
Local FB groups
There could be groups for your specific genre, meetups that already take place, as well as people looking to jam.
Local Reddit conversations
See if there’s people talking about the DIY music scene in your area. Inspire yourself by checking out interesting shows where you might also meet new potential collaborators with similar interests.
The tried and true. There’s no better way to meet people in your area to collaborate with. This has the added bonus of getting you into the same room as your collaborators! Just make sure to categorize your post appropriately, or you might end up with a different kind of “encounter.”
LANDR's Collaboration features allow you to get creative in the cloud with your network. Share the tracks you got stuck on, or older ideas that need to hit some new ears. You can annotate right on the track and get real-time feedback without having to mess around with file transfers.
How to stay organized and focused
Procrastination is the thief of time. And distraction is the thief of productivity. So keep your studio clean and organized, and your mind clear, and you’ll always be ready to roll in the studio.
Ever found yourself sitting in your studio chair, DAW empty, phone in hand, scrolling through your Instagram feed? Have you ever gotten lost, eyes glazed over, in the endless sprawl of digital information available to us? Try a productivity app like StayFocusd to block unproductive websites while you’re in the studio.
Poor cable management is the bane of anybody who works with electronics, from musicians to system administrators. But if you get your wires under control, you’ll be amazed by how open and uncluttered your studio space becomes. There are commercial solutions and DIY ones — just make sure that whatever you choose, it keeps your cords neat and out of the way.
Label your tracks
Label your tracks properly in your mix. Finding that one maraca in your session is maddening if you don’t organize from the start. Bonus points for color-coding, too - blue for percussion, yellow for leads, and so on.
How to relax
Ways 2 chill in the studio
· Keep an assortment of plants in the studio. They set a mellow mood for the studio and they purify the air.
· Don’t trash any of your ideas. Keep them to reference when you need inspiration.
· Wear comfortable clothing. A ton of #1 hits were made while wearing sweats (well, probably).
· Stay hydrated with good old fashioned water. The average person needs about 2 litres per day. No more headaches, and way more energy.
· If something isn’t working, move on. Come back to it later with clear eyes.
· Turn your phone off.