Doing the same thing over and over again rarely turns into a new result. With each and every project you work on, you should be growing and adapting to make the best possible product you can. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about recording a song, mixing an album or building a studio from the ground up – each part of the process should be teaching us something about what comes next.
Unfortunately, many people get stuck in the same old cycles. One project is done and they never reflect on it before the next one starts. They just finish their task and move on to the next one. In turn, they end up in a self-fulfilling loop of mediocrity. This loop slowly drains away at creativity and ends up wasting years of time.
Instead of falling into this pattern, engineers and producers should always be looking for ways to try new things and get outside of their comfort zone. By breaking up tasks in this way, you’re more likely to reflect on the new experiences and the old. You end up making better decisions in the future because you’ve taken the time to decide what worked in the past.
Work On Something New
One of the easiest ways to get outside of your comfort zone is by working on something you’ve never done before. For producers that work mainly with samples, this could mean recording something live. For engineers that mostly work with live instruments, it can mean incorporating samples into their work.
Another big way to drastically change your perspective is to work on something from a genre outside of your comfort zone. If you’re always working on djent tracks, it’s easy to see how you can fall into using the same plugins on the same virtual guitar rigs with the same drum samples every session. Change things up with some pop or country and you’ll instantly see how your mixing workflow gets turned upside down.
Learn A New Instrument
If you’re really trying to get outside of your comfort zone – learning a new instrument can be a great way to get there. Depending on your current musical abilities and the instrument you’re looking to learn, this might be a huge undertaking. A guitarist learning to play bass is going to get the fundamentals down faster than someone that’s never played an instrument before.
If you’re someone who’s always been more technical/studio focused, I’d suggest choosing an instrument that’s going to help you with music theory if possible. Learning the piano is a great way to understand basic music theory pretty quickly, and will be useful if you’re ever looking to play a MIDI part into a session. Rhythmic instruments can also be a great way to improve your production skills.
Exploring Other Types of Audio
There is a huge demand for audio professionals beyond recording music and exploring some of those opportunities can add a new perspective to your career. Many major studios not only record music, but audio for film/television, radio, podcasts, audiobooks, and more.
Many of these studios aren’t just known for their music, but the quality they bring to the table regardless of the project. Just look at one of the most famous studios of all time – Abbey Road. While the name instantly brings to mind The Beatles, Abbey Road Studios does just as much work for films as they do for music projects these days.
Even if you’re not looking to explore outside of doing music work, try doing live sound for a band if you’ve never had the chance. Running sound at a concert is an exciting and unique opportunity to see how your mix translates to listeners in real time. The main principles behind the mix are the same, but the real-time, fast-paced experience can really help you think on your feet. Some of that energy often makes its way back to the studio with you.
One of the best sources of inspiration is input from motivated peers. People that want to grow and succeed in their careers are likely to build those up around them. Their drive for more often fuels the drive for dozens of others and that motivation continues to grow within their circle.
Our VIP members make a conscious effort to invest in themselves when they sign up. They see the same value that I do in learning how others are recording, mixing, and promoting their work. They understand that mix crits from an industry professional are an invaluable tool for improving their work.