For music producers, specifically those interested in releasing music, gratification is one of the most complex topics to address. From the moment you complete your first track, it becomes all about showing it to people to see how they react and to get feedback. As you progress with producing, more of your tracks will start to feel like they are release- worthy. But the real question we have to ask is not if they are release-worthy, but are they timeless?
When you start making music and don’t have the concepts or skills honed enough to do it in a streamlined manner, it’s inevitable that you’ll find yourself “hating” the tracks you make; spending so much time on them means you will dislike them by the time they are “done”. I’m of the opinion that most tracks are never 100% complete—every time you work on a project you’ll notice more details that you feel you can fix and this can turn into a never-ending spiral.
For me personally, my road has been an interesting one—the first tracks I ever made were sent to labels and eventually released, but every time I visit Beatport (or other platforms) are and listen to those tracks, I ask myself if they are what I want people to think about when they hear my artistic name. Each release comes with a technical improvement, and the process is noticeable, but…what if those tracks were never released?
On the upside, I guarantee 100% that if it were not for those tracks and releases, I wouldn’t have been able to connect with so many people around the genre and network into making contacts—this proved very useful and worthy in the long-run. On the downside, every musician wishes to have his/her very best out there, as it’s our business card, it’s what people will remember the most when they talk about you.
I read the other day about an artist who practiced and honed his skills for seven years straight without even considering releasing a track before that, as he felt his music was not up to the standards that he wanted to put out in the world. So, what then, is the correct road? If I could do it all over again, I would most definitely not have released the first and most technically lacking tracks I ever made. It’s all very personal, but if you can, I would follow that artist’s advice—it removes the stress of wanting to sound in a specific manner for a specific label, and you’ll find your own sound in a more creative way. Make music for the sake of it, not because you have a deadline. Deadlines will come in the future, I can guarantee it.
My honest conclusion is that with production—same as any skill—you have to put in the hours of work and have the patience to accept that it will be slow. As one of my teachers once told me, there is no shortcut to training your ears. Having some perspective now and a short career of 5 years in music production, I believe our best tools are groups like the coaching corner we all know and love; in groups like these you can show your music to the world, get focused feedback, and continue to improve and grow as an artist around like-minded people without it being too permanent.
The key is knowing and accepting that you will always be able to do better. There’s no rush and you will eventually be thankful for having waited to have your very best out there. On the other hand if you don’t want to wait, make sure you have some feedback from artists you know have a deep technical background as they will give you the best tips to improve your tracks.