What stops you from completing tracks/projects?

edited September 2018 in Off-topic

Another thread by @LinearLineman got me thinking, what exactly are the barriers that prevent iOS music makers from finishing tracks? How to overcome them? I have problems in this dept for sure! So what halts you in your tracks or stops you from even getting out the gate? Or if you have managed to be productive (yay!) what barriers have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Some thoughts from my own experiences;

  • lack of time: work and family life take up the lion’s share of my time but that’s ok (family comes first after all), however I do have spare time here and there, but I don’t often enough use it to focus on making music
  • distractions: internet (case in point = here I am on the forum when I could be making music!), books, TV (wife always wants us to sit down of an evening together to watch Homelands, GoT or whatever)... and of course too many apps / too much choice absolutely causes paralysis!
  • lack of motivation/laziness: I don’t want to admit this but I think it’s true :( ) worse still I am guilty of making excuses to kid myself e.g. waiting for mr. dev to release that vital update
  • fear: intimidated by the tools or scared my end result will be crap
  • impatience: tricky workflow or apps misbehaving (instability is a mofo) can be frustrating
  • perfectionism: the result is never good enough so it gets redone and redone and ultimately it’s still never good enough - frustration kicks in and project gets abandoned

How about you? Have you managed to get past your barriers or do they regularly suppress your ability to complete material?

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Comments

  • edited September 2018

    This is timely. OCD. I can't stop myself from wanting to get the first track perfect when I know I'm starting a multi-track project, and then have an intense desire to scrap it and start over when I get into the second track or beyond. Over and over. This isn't something confined to music, either. It often dominates my life.

    Somehow I've trained myself to be able to string together 4-5 layers of one-or two full length takes and run with it, but it took years and years to get to that point. When I can do it, it's very therapeutic.

    Back to the original point, I've just spent 3 hours agonizing over mapping out the bass and drums for a very simple, probably 20-30 minute piece. But knowing that there's gonna be so many different instances of each plugin for different patches and different sections to get what I want, I'm so frazzled I can't even operate. It's near impossible for me to break down big ideas into smaller pieces without outside help.

  • Time. But it can be minimized by creating an agile workflow which brings back all your settings instantly without having to set everything back each time, enabling to work little by little without losing the flow.
    Frustration. Having some great tools which work great individually but it's a real pain to have them work together well sometimes. Wasting time looking for some workarounds.
    Other projects. As it happens, I am writing a novel and I have started digital painting. So my mind is less focused on music lately.

    I am changing the way I am composing actually nowadays. Cause I had a tendency to write patterns after patterns in the past and it didn't keep my focus long enough. So what I do is I focus on one channel at a time, like writing the melody for the main instrument from beginning to end first, then arrangements. And having the main melody as a reference frame is very useful when I come back to my project with its session.

  • edited September 2018

    Lack of Time: I wish I could buy some time in the market. No help, no hope.

    Distractions: YouTube, Quora, Audiobus forum content consumption :neutral:

    Perfectionism: That's my middle name (GRRRR!)

    All I need is my iPad, headphones and stylus.

    But hey, what do I know?

  • I always say this, so I'm broken record (sorry). The best way to overcome this problem is to simply set yourself a goal or a target and stick to it come hell or high water. That's exactly what SOTMC is about: you write and complete at least one song every month, no matter what.

    I started doing this in January 2015, and I haven't missed a single month, despite various catastrophes happening in that time (like having a house sale fall through and no permanent residence for 8 months in 2016). That's 45 completed songs in that time, most of them actual songs with vocals (which take a lot longer to finesse than instrumentals). Most of them suck, but I knew that would be the case before I started, however there are four or five that I am happy with.

    The point is you have to let go of procrastination and/or perfectionism and just produce, because that's the only way to improve over time. If you're not productive, you're not improving.

  • @Mayo said:
    IOS

    If you mean stability/compatibility issues then I’d agree this is a challenge and quite offputting. That’s thanks to the constantly shifting sands of the iOS codebase... it’s a PITA for devs to keep pace so many give up the ghost - can’t blame them. Upshot is it’s impossible to stabilise a studio setup on iOS for a significant length of time - unless you never update again (I am considering this), but then when your device eventually ages out you’re back with the same issue. Plus you miss out on lots of good stuff that comes down the line over time.

    But interestingly I’ve heard that M$ are now only supporting the last 2 builds of Windoze 10 in which case PC setups could end up suffering the same issues we have here. Could be BS but that’s what I’ve heard.

    iPads and iPhones are also still (arguably) underpowered for really big complex projects - if that’s what you mean.

    But ultimately I do believe iOS devices are good enough to produce a decent end result with time, patience and talent - many on this forum have demonstrated that. Problem is time, patience and/or talent are lacking for many folks (especially me!)

  • edited September 2018

    For me it was not being able to find a comfortable smoothe and reliable workflow and so I spent a lot of time chopping and changing as I was never happy. That is until recently when I have started using LP-5 in conjunction with my own sounds in Blocs Wave- which seems to suit more than anything I have tried- this is despite also having used Launchpad, Remix Live and Looptunes HD.
    LP-5 just seems to gel with me. Launching clips is far easier for me than starting to compose from beginning to end or playing Groovebox type patterns or using loopers or DAW’s etc etc- it has taken a while for me to learn this.
    My advice to anyone struggling with this would be to try as many different workflow options as you can imagine- and don’t let the fact that you are binning just about everything you create put you off. Discovering how you are going to achieve your aim is part of the process- and it can take a while.
    That saying about needing to fail before you succeed is true........ ones things for sure- we can’t blame a lack of available apps 🤔

  • edited September 2018

    A “Pro” ducer get things finished - For me I remember the limitations of back in the early 90s / I bought my Akai MPC2000 drum machine in 1997 £1,200 Pricey
    Studio costs, sound engineer costs, pressing vinyl cost the list goes on Now we are so spoilt for choice can do everything I need with an ipad - remember the things you never had before This is a rule I give onto my self - believe me I embrace all that the ipad offers and get things done.
    Another method is to back up the ipa files of your apps to your MAC or hardrive and then delete the ones you dont use a lot from the ipad - this helps a lot - less experimentation with apps and sound sculpting ( though practise is cool) and more app limitations helps me Less apps more work completed - these are just my methods
    Cool

  • edited September 2018

    Hmmm. An interesting topic for sure. Not sure where to begin. I guess first ask yourself if you have trouble completing things in other areas of your life. If you do it is a global problem and a deeper one. I would seek professional help for such a challenge, or at least th best self help books, or accept it and move on.

    If it is only in the creative area I might be of a little more help.

    There are a number of things that could prevent you from completing tracks. The best is you do not care about completing things but feel pressure from various sources to do so. Maybe it is a conflict between having fun ( escapism, yeah!) and what, in your mind, peers or education or society expects of you. If it is the latter, no worries, society, peers, parents, nobody really cares what you do. They don't really care if you complete things or not cause they have their own problems! So just give it up! Have fun. That is what music is for.

    Then, as @oat_phipps mentions there Is the behavior of working a part of a piece over and over. I have heard many talk about this one. The question is, is this fear or perfectionism? I tend to think fear ( sorry if I am hurting anyone's feelings here). In myself, in my youth, I thought I could be famous. A hippie singer songwriter. Well, thinking and doing are quite different things. As long as I didn't put myself out there it was always a possibility I was really great, unique, sexy, etc. Very few of us, myself included, are in this category, but often we believe differently. I posted a thread "Am I better than my tools". Most people are not. But some are. Two posters said they were. Fine fellows I am sure. I had never heard a thing they had done. I asked them, very genuinely, to share their music. It must be great and individualistic. Well, as you might imagine, no response. So, maybe they are overly modest, but not so modest as to say they are masters of their form. I was a legend in my own mind for many years. I didn't really want to know the answer, so I struggled to write a few songs a year while someone like @theconnactic seems to pop one off daily. Are they all great? Well, some are! Maybe he will address this question. I hope so. Dimitri obviously has no fear! So, be honest with yourself. Is it fear or perfectionism? The answer will tell you a lot, I think.

    Ok, so now, true perfectionism. The type of things the greats seem to do effortlessly. Possibly perfection is easy for them. That's why they are great! Or... It is very difficult and they work twenty hours a day to reach that acme, and that is why they are great! If you think yourself a perfectionist, and it is difficult to accomplish, and you are unwilling or unable to devote the time necessary, can you ever achieve it? Honestly? Never. Give up your family, your friends, your career, your everything and maybe you can afford to be a perfectionist who completes stuff. That is a price most of us will not pay, and rightly so, because, frankly, no one else gives a damn about what we do or don't do!

    So why chase a worthless dream? I revel in my non perfectionism. If 90% is passable I am ecstatic. It is the creative flow that gets me. I could struggle for that extra 10% and probably lose it all. Do those weak parts bother me? A little. Then I remind myself... No one gives a shit! Ahhhh... Such fun! On to the next. It is not a legacy I seek as @Dubbylabby so poetically put, I am here for the kick, the immersion, the soma,
    the concentration, the joy of forgetting everything but the electric thrill of creating. If I labor at something the charge dissipates. I need to finish so I can forget about it and create something new.

    @zeroG' s other inhibitors: lack of motivation? Again is it local or global? The answer will direct you to a solution, I believe...
    If you really want one, that is. I would love to speak a foreign language, in my case, Turkish as I live in Istanbul! I am talentless when it comes to language, hence no motivation.
    Maybe a lack of motivation is underlain by a realization we do not really have much talent in this area. The truth, IMAO, is that many of us are very talented listeners ( seriously). We have spent our lives listening to music that attracts us, gets our roogalators working, and pleases our senses and drives. We know a hell of a lot about some types of music and we want to do it too! It is magical, is it not? But to be able to create music that lives up to the sophistication our ears have achieved thru a lifetime of listening "work"? Very difficult and daunting. Especially when our hands are not as talented as our ears.

    Distractions. Maybe making music is just another distraction.
    Maybe again this is a global issue for you. Do you really want to work at the discipline of concentration? If you do you might meditate, do tai chi, calligraphy, flower arranging, even music.
    But you have to want it more than relaxing, which unfortunately, but blessedly, is the opposite of work. Be honest with yourself.
    We all want a lot of things... Mostly to have pleasure and avoid pain. It is in our DNA. Accept, get the most out of life you can and don't beat yourself up about not completing a track. It is a joke, after all,

    Finally, impatience.... Ummm, I have run clear out of patience with this questionable soliloquy. I just can't seem to finish it. I did my best. Sorry for the layers of bullshit, but maybe something I said is meaningful. Now I must get back to my never completed and totally meaningless rumor thread!

  • Lack of creativity, talent and I'm extremely lazy.

  • @Bootsy said:
    Lack of creativity, talent and I'm extremely lazy.

    In your case it's definitely not lack of talent :)

    And if you really are lazy, get working, you've got one of the best singing voices I've ever heard!

  • @richardyot said:
    I always say this, so I'm broken record (sorry). The best way to overcome this problem is to simply set yourself a goal or a target and stick to it come hell or high water. That's exactly what SOTMC is about: you write and complete at least one song every month, no matter what.

    I started doing this in January 2015, and I haven't missed a single month, despite various catastrophes happening in that time (like having a house sale fall through and no permanent residence for 8 months in 2016). That's 45 completed songs in that time, most of them actual songs with vocals (which take a lot longer to finesse than instrumentals). Most of them suck, but I knew that would be the case before I started, however there are four or five that I am happy with.

    The point is you have to let go of procrastination and/or perfectionism and just produce, because that's the only way to improve over time. If you're not productive, you're not improving.

    This, and by the way, it's exactly how it works in the studio - time is money; you finish it or else.

  • Too much time on the Audiobus Forum. 😊

  • edited September 2018

    My biggest one with original music stuff is that sometimes I write a song over the course of several years. If you look in my Google Drive, youll see 50 folders each with a midi file, lyrics, sometimes images that relate to the song.

    Where I force myself to work to try to finish, sometimes I can write something good. But more naturally, I wake up in the middle of the night or see something happen in the world and just pour out a verse, chorus, melody. The former seems to take 5x longer.

    I dont know how to better approach it. I have been thus for 25 years.

    To be clear, thats all the composing.

    Im Speedy McSpeedface when it comes to actually recording the main parts by the time I have it all in my head/paper/drafted in midi (I typically play all midi 'live' when it comes to keeper parts)

    The second would be that I get into real diminishing returns adding subtle additions and with mixing. Ive improved a lot in this area just admitting my problem to band mates and other collaborators and sending them progressive versions. When I get to a 'can barely tell the difference' I know I need to stop.

  • edited September 2018

    Nothing stops me really, apart from a lack of time. But not having much time to dedicate to this stuff can be a good thing too, as it focuses my mind and banishes procrastination.

    All my solo project stuff starts as live jams, and sometimes embellished with live overdubs. Nothing is saved, except the final mix. Bosh. Done. If I like it it’ll go on a Bandcamp album, if not, it gets deleted, or archived off the HD.

    Is it my stuff any good? Not for me to say, but I like listening back to most of it, and I’m happy doing it. I get some really lovely feedback from Soundcloud users too, which is nice. Most people though won’t like it but hey, fuck em.

    Band stuff is a bit more laboured - the group song/tune writing is a slower process, but intervals down the pub ease the pain.

    At the end of the day we (me, most of the band) are old farts, near death, so we don’t have the luxury of tweaking time.

    Enjoy the process, but don’t enjoy it so much that you never get anything finished.

  • Because the completion of tracks is not essential to me getting pleasure from the journey. To me nothing ever ends it’s always a pleasurable journey playing with a new idea or an old one.

    It took me a while to realise the above. At first I thought something was wrong with me never so called ‘finishing a track’, after rethinking, I can see that is not my aim.

    For the sake of the thread though, here’s what slows or stalls the progress of fun:

    1. Sharing files between apps - sometimes this is painful and not thought out well.
    2. The constant updates of iOS - sometimes this upsets the flow of things.
    3. Finding the right sound - I would love it if we could just choose by sound instead of app, but that just wouldn’t work at this time in iOS land, where too many super apps kill my Air2.
    4. Awful backup procedures - as it says.
  • There is that point when it becomes done. Everyone has that point, some just don’t get there. All you have to do is move that point. For me, I have moved it all the way back to, Meh..

  • A number of reasons for me...

    • Wanting to finish a track all in one sitting
    • Enjoying sound design more than sequenceing
    • Getting bogged down in possibilities of different DAWS and routing configurations
    • Getting annoyed at interfaces and their quirks / bugs
    • Not enough time, not enough energy 😴
    • Netflix
    • Weed 🤪

    The most productive I’ve been is when entering challenges or competitions where there is a scope and a deadline

  • Not just time to myself but QUIET time to myself. Being in a different room to the kids doesn’t work if they are going crazy. So the best time is once I’ve put them to bed and then I just fall asleep in the chair.

    And excuses...

  • @kinkujin said:
    Too much time on the Audiobus Forum. 😊

    +1
    I’m motivated to do something about it, happy music making🎼👍🏻

  • “Enjoy the process, but don’t enjoy it so much that you never get anything finished.”

    @MonzoPro I need this printed on a tee shirt. Or tattooed backwards on my forehead.

  • @oat_phipps said:
    This is timely. OCD. I can't stop myself from wanting to get the first track perfect when I know I'm starting a multi-track project, and then have an intense desire to scrap it and start over when I get into the second track or beyond. Over and over. This isn't something confined to music, either. It often dominates my life.

    Somehow I've trained myself to be able to string together 4-5 layers of one-or two full length takes and run with it, but it took years and years to get to that point. When I can do it, it's very therapeutic.

    Back to the original point, I've just spent 3 hours agonizing over mapping out the bass and drums for a very simple, probably 20-30 minute piece. But knowing that there's gonna be so many different instances of each plugin for different patches and different sections to get what I want, I'm so frazzled I can't even operate. It's near impossible for me to break down big ideas into smaller pieces without outside help.

    What he said

    And what @zeroG said, fam and the internet... Mostly the net lol

    And what everyone said lol so many reasons

  • @gusgranite said:
    Not just time to myself but QUIET time to myself. Being in a different room to the kids doesn’t work if they are going crazy. So the best time is once I’ve put them to bed and then I just fall asleep in the chair.

    And excuses...

    Haha are you spying on me 😂🤣 this is my life

  • @d4d0ug said:
    A number of reasons for me...

    • Wanting to finish a track all in one sitting
    • Enjoying sound design more than sequenceing
    • Getting bogged down in possibilities of different DAWS and routing configurations
    • Getting annoyed at interfaces and their quirks / bugs
    • Not enough time, not enough energy 😴
    • Netflix
    • Weed 🤪

    The most productive I’ve been is when entering challenges or competitions where there is a scope and a deadline

    Lol preach

  • (I do feel somewhat Mozonian in my process.)

    When things are at their best lately this is what works for me...

    Constantly be sketching and making new material. This keeps the whole thing exciting and fresh. Right now I am more or less mixing an album on desktop (minimaly) on the weekend and sketching new material during the week on the iPad (using a tiny bit of weekend desktop sample building too). Sure enough some of the more pressure free commute sketches end up bumping out the weekends album contenders that were already being mixed, hah! This may seem like a waste but this breathes new life into the album, removes the weak or dead branches and is ultimately a good thing.

    The album is the priority, not the individual tracks within and often the best, most complete sounding results come from compiling the quick ‘out of nowhere’, inspired sketches. We just needs more swings at bat, A pretty good idea that has potential that has been sititng on the shelf too long is more likely to go nowhere, sound too labored and simply not get there, chuck it. Whip up new sketches instead to find the magic, not make it atom by atom in the lab.

    For me having a collection of competing tunes being developed in paralel (see it as a living top ten) is a good way to go. Also, a development or inovation on one tune can inform what to do on another. I don't feel bad tossing a tune out in favor of an other and just let the best rise to the top and feel good about the best ones. Sometimes the tossed tune ends up on another album anyway, maybe not. What makes a good a tune for me is that it fits within a context of other tunes and is supported by them. A tune can be good but simply be in the wrong group.

    Unfinished sketches are never failures. Sketch! Sketch! Sketch!

    Anyway, I need to share more stuff soon as none of this means anything without examples, heh.

  • I think my biggest problem is knowing when enough is enough. Do I need another track? Another layer? More fx? I dunno. I find myself having to carefully choose tools of limited scope/features to help alleviate this. Also, I’m not a drummer, and I find programming drums really annoying and not enjoyable though I can do it fine, but I also don’t want to have to string drum loops together either. But having a good rhythmic foundation helps me immensely. I wish all relevant apps just had a nice Euclidean sequencer ala bram bos, where i could just do that and tweak some macros for the overall drum sounds.

    Additionally it’s hard for me to return to a project after that initial inspiration that gets you in that ballpark, but it’s not quite done. I would much prefer to finish a track in one sitting. And I think there’s room for improvement in GUI designs in all in one apps to make this more feasible, but for now, I just choose my tools carefully and try not to give myself too many options, but also not too few. For reference, I’ve probably created the greatest quantity of music in iKaossilator. Over 2500 4 bar loops, many related to each other. Who knows how many songs are in there, there’s at least an album in there. But ya know, cheap sounding sounds, etc. Always looking for a better balance

  • edited September 2018

    @reasOne said:

    @gusgranite said:
    Not just time to myself but QUIET time to myself. Being in a different room to the kids doesn’t work if they are going crazy. So the best time is once I’ve put them to bed and then I just fall asleep in the chair.

    And excuses...

    Haha are you spying on me 😂🤣 this is my life

    Sounds like mine too except in my case when the littl’uns are in bed the missus has Netflix at the ready (and sometimes a beer poured, in which case resistance is futile).

    Mañana mañana..

  • edited September 2018

    @zeroG said:
    >

    Sounds like mine too except in my case when the littl’uns are in bed the missus has Netflix at the ready (and sometimes a beer poured, in which case resistance is futile).

    Mañana mañana..

    more times than not, netfix and a fresh poured NEIPA win haha i do jam on my ipad A TON but to finishing tracks...not as much as just having fun jammn ( whie watching netfix) ok my keyboards being weird and wont type the etter '''' as you can see its missing from netfix , wtf

  • Bad reviews of my early work

    and my early work. (Hey... I was learning, OK?)

    My late work will be much better... if I ever finish anything.
    At least I know who NOT to share it with.

    Seriously, be generous with praise even when you hear absolute dreck. Your opinions can stiffle a creator. Always say one or more positive things first and then carefully select one criticism to move someone towards better producing.

    How many people will tell you they are bad at math? Math is just challenging. Music is a lot like math. Let people learn without trashing their joy at finishing something.

    There are folks here that have music at the heart of their lives but they would never trust you to judge them. And we all loose in that world.

    Music is not a competition... it's self-expression. Let everyone participate and show them you value their trust in letting you judge them. Give them positive first and a small bit of advice.

    If you disagree with this... fuck off. Oh sorry. You're just smarter and more talented and we appreciate you helping us by pointing out we shouldn't bother. OK? Now Fuck Off.

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