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4 Signs That A Song Isn’t Ready For Release

In today’s shockingly competitive music industry, it’s not easy knowing how much music to release and how often. There’s a feeling that between how hungry listeners are for new music and the astounding number of new songs uploaded to major streaming platforms every day that artists will lose their audience’s attention without constantly releasing music.

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The problem is that it’s hard to write, record, and produce great music consistently, and that if you’re approaching the songwriting process in ways that embrace curiosity and risk-taking, you’re bound to run into false starts and failures over and over again. Since not everything we write should see the light of day, it’s crucial to be able to discern what’s worth sharing and what needs more tweaking when it comes to our music. Here are four signs that your music isn’t ready for release:

Something feels missing

If you feel like you’re nearing the completion of a song and get the sense that something’s missing, it’s important to take that intuition seriously. When we’re more concerned with putting out music consistently or finishing music on a deadline, it’s easy to cut corners and leave our songs far from reaching their true potential. Whether it’s a subpar performance or a section of a song that isn’t as strong as it could be, releasing music that feels unfinished or lacking in any way is a bad idea.

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Numerous listens reveal glaring errors

It should go without saying, but if there are noticeable errors in your songs, they’re not ready for release. By errors, I don’t mean minor and nuanced parts of your performances or production choices that can be interpreted as beneficial sounds that build character in your music. Instead, I’m referring to stuff you’ll listen back to later with your head in your hands because it sounds so bad and embarrassing.

If you’re a spur of the moment sort of musician that wants to release lots of music, that’s totally fine as long as you’re not putting out rushed and flawed art that will end up hurting your career and report with fans down the line. It’s easy to fix errors in your songs or decide they’re not strong enough to share. Recovering from putting out weak work however is much, much harder.

The song sounds unintentionally unmixed and unproduced

Intentionality is a big deal when it comes to the way your songs sound and feel to listeners. If noticeable parts of your music sound like you didn’t mean for them to sound the way they do, it’s a signifier that the track isn’t ready to be heard by anyone aside from you and your collaborators.

There’s plenty of happy mistakes and surprises to be found in the process of recording and producing, but when things come off as unintentional in ways that are inconsistent, distracting, and unsupportive of the song and your musical aesthetic in general, your work isn’t finished as a music-maker.

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You wouldn’t want to listen to it if you weren’t the artist that created it

This is the most important sign. If the end result of a song is a piece of music you genuinely wouldn’t want to listen to if you weren’t the songwriter behind it, it’s either unfinished or unworthy of being released. This is a hard pill to swallow for developing artists who are establishing their voices or anyone else who’s spent lots of time on a song only to see it go nowhere or need new revisions, but if you follow this rule, you’ll be so much better off as a songwriter. When you put out music you’re genuinely excited about, everything becomes infinitely easier and more natural as an artist, whether it’s playing the same songs over and over again during concerts or promoting a new album. If we want and expect people to support us and our music, we need to hold up our end of the bargain, which is delivering meaningful music that other human beings will actually want to hear.

Once you recognize that your work is valuable and can be hugely meaningful to listeners, you’ll find the balance between wanting to give them music consistently and only sharing songs that reflect your best creative effort.

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5 Signs Of Creative Stagnation To Watch Out For In Music

There comes a point in every serious musician’s career when creativity, fun, and inspiration are hard to come by. The causes of creative stagnation are different for each of us, but all music-makers experience it eventually. Some musicians are able to spot a lack of ambition or inspiration in their creative lives.

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Others slowly sink into ruts without realizing it. If you can easily spot one of these red flags in your music career, it’s likely you’re creatively stuck and need a change.

Writing the same songs over and over again

If you can’t help hitting repeat when it comes to your creative process, stagnation is probably to blame. Some of us get into the habit of writing the same music for months or even years because it feels predictable and safe to do so. But as we all know, predictability and safety aren’t helpful when it comes to making meaningful music. Making the conscious effort to let curiosity and risk shape your creative process will help you if you’re unable to write something truly new or different.

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Not invested in getting better, feeling unchallenged

One hopeful, beautiful thing about making music is that we are always capable of writing a better song. It’s a challenge that fuels my work and motivates me to write whether I’m feeling creatively inspired or musically bored. If you’re constantly feeling unchallenged and lack the desire to get better, you’re at a serious point of creative stagnation and need to make big changes to stay in the game. Make music long enough, and you’re bound to experience heartbreak and disappointment. But instead of letting this fact beat you down, focus on what moves you in the process of making music. Rather than settling for OK, strive to create music that got you interested in doing this in the first place.

Feeling disconnected from joy and curiosity

Without a strong emotional pull towards creating and performing, musicians will find it hard to make progress in their careers. To put it a simpler way, if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Writing, playing shows, releasing music, and touring should all be fun, emotionally rewarding activities in your career. Yes, there’s a massive amount of work that goes into maintaining a music career. But if there’s nothing fun or instantly gratifying about it, you’ll need to change things around to get back to the point where you love what you do again.

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Viewing music-making as an obligation and not as something rewarding and energizing

Most non-musicians would be shocked to learn how much tedious administrative work goes into sustaining a music career and that the vast majority of un established and small artists take on duties like booking shows, planning tours, and promoting music themselves. It’s natural to view these things as chores but if the thought of writing songs or playing shows fills you with obligatory dread, something big needs to be addressed in your music career. Whether the project you’re playing in just doesn’t do it for you anymore or you need to take a break from making music and performing your own work, serious changes need to happen if you want to keep making music.

Not having access to new opportunities after years of work

Have you been hard at work for years and are faced with the same opportunities and limitations you found when you first started? There’s a good chance creative stagnation is to blame. Music is a brutal industry to compete in. Yet, if your music is solid and you’re working hard, you should access to more shows and fans over time. A lack of music opportunities could be because you’re creatively stuck and unable to make work that resonates with people. This can be a hard pill to swallow. However, committing to dropping everything in your music career to focus on creating the best work you can may help.

Feeling creatively stagnant isn’t something you should feel bad about. We’ve all been there before as musicians, and those who haven’t will at some point. Rather than accepting defeat and waiting for inspiration, you can diagnose the problem and work towards a solution.