I am not a music producer.
I’m an artist… a video producer, an editor, a graphic designer, a writer, and an idea creator. However, I don’t make music, so take this essay as you may.
I have many musician friends and have listened to interviews from many musical greats, so I can say with a decent amount of certainty, that the proper music creation process is, for the most part, the same as the creation process for videos, articles, companies, etc.
It starts with passion.
Ah, how cliché.
Here’s the thing about creating music that people want to share: if you try to follow a formula, maybe making things that purposefully sound like other songs you’ve heard, rather than having been inspired by other songs, nobody is going to give an *expletive* about your piece of music.
Sorry, but that’s the game.
Some people think this game harsh, but really it rewards those who most deserve it- those who are inspired.
I’ve worked on music videos for songs that weren’t created out of passion and I’ve been in the studio with those trying to follow a cookie cutter formula, so I’ve seen the results of not being whole hearted in your efforts.
I’m going to take a new approach in this area and say that when it comes to creating good music, consumers care more about the sounds than about the actual lyrics and when it comes to creating music from the heart, things come through most in the sounds, and again not in the lyrics.
We’re inherently social creatures, so we’re more likely to pay attention to things like body language and vocal tonality and many of us can tell how authentic somebody is based on his/her tonality.
I want to break this down because I feel like this theory is pretty novel.
Part 1 of the theory:
People judge music more by its sounds than by its lyrics (if it has lyrics).
Let’s take any Drake song as an example. I love Drake. Many people hate him, but I really relate with his lyrics. HOWEVER, there are thousands of artists who sing and rap about the same exact things as Drake.
And I don’t love all of those artists.
I love Drake. More specifically, I love the way that he sounds.
The lyrics are just a base criteria that he is satisfying.
They make me feel like a badass, or they make me emotional for my exes, or they make me nostalgic of really fun times I’ve had, or they make me want to work hard. But like I said, there are plenty of rappers and musicians in other genres who sing about the same things he does and they don’t affect me nearly as much.
There are plenty of artists who meet this base criteria, but few of them who make it past.
The reason more people listen to hip-hop/rap than poetry is because of the sounds.
So here’s where part 2 comes in.
Part 2 of the theory:
Passion is conveyed in a vocalist’s voice and in a producer’s sounds. That producer could be making electronic music or playing the cello. He could be on a trombone or a nose-flute. He could be an opera singer or pop singer.
If you can’t tell that a song’s producer wasn’t really into the sounds as they were being created, the song will be received with apathy.
Similarly, if there isn’t passion in the vocalist’s singing, that is, if you can’t tell that the vocalist isn’t feeling the music, then nobody’s going to care.
It’s a two lane street and both lanes have to have Lamborghinis driving side by side.
Let’s put this into practice.
If you’re a producer, then it’s crucial that you get behind the sounds.
And if you’re a vocalist then it’s crucial that you get behind the lyrics. This means either thinking of lyrics that affect you deeply or thinking deeply on cliché lyrics to a point where you can actually feel emotions for them.
The lyrics don’t have to be super heartfelt when written, but they do have to have focus behind them.
It’s the same with a song’s sounds. If you’re not “feeling it-” If you’re not fully focused on the task at hand, that is, creating the music or singing the lyrics… if 110% of your neurons aren’t firing, then you should just give up, take a break, and start over.
I might be using Drake as an example too much in this essay, but this is the reason he so frequently raps about how frustrated he becomes when somebody distracts him in the studio.
The pressure’s on to be focused, but if you look at this another way, you can actually say that the pressure’s on to have fun and enjoy yourself.
Let’s remove the word, “pressure,” now, because I don’t want you to think of music or content creation like this, nor do I want myself thinking like this.
If you need to have a drink or smoke to really get into the zone with the music creation process…well, this is a very common practice.
Get into the zone. Ignore the politics that might come into play when making music with other people, and focus on the sounds.
I’m going to say that again because that’s what this essay is really about.
Focus on the sounds. If you’re a vocalist, focus on the feeling and you’ll create the right sounds.
Create something you’re into. Step away for a while, then listen again. Focus on the sounds again, and make the necessary changes.
If you can execute (you’re experienced with instruments/software/your voice), and you put passion into what you create, then you’re going to create music that people are going to want to share. You’re going to get results, and, more importantly, you won’t care a ton because you will have had so much fun in the process.
As I wrote in a previous essay:
1. Have you developed an intuitive feel for what people like to share or respond to?
2. Did you think of something you legitimately wanted to hear brought to fruition?
3. Did you execute the actual production of your idea to its original vision?
Thanks to Zachary Charles Hannah and FS Green for giving me the inspiration to write this. Thanks to the music of Drake as well- I can’t use him as an example for pretty much the entirety of this essay without saying thanks.