Momentum or perfection? If you had to choose.

It seems I am in a constant dilemma when it comes to my music career. I simply can’t create my albums as fast as I should. Ideally I would like to release an all new full length album every 18 months. However, with all the remixes, live shows and well simple procrastination I never meet my own deadline. It’s a shame because I really feel it’s important to remain in the eyes and ears of your fans. It’s also important if you want a constant strong flow of income from royalties and publishing.

I could put filler music on my albums and get the release out the door. Yet this is a shamefull practice because your seriously devaluing your own art. In the long run you will loose fans and your own self respect. Another thing to consider is if you make every song on your album as perfect as possible then people will listen to it longer. Heck we all own great albums from the 60s we still listen to.

Don’t think I can write perfect songs one after another. My absolute biggest trick as a musician is to simply throw away most of the of the music I create. Out of twenty songs I end up finishing I only think eight or ten are worth sharing with the world. Some people say to wait for inspiration to strike but I don’t think that works. I find many times I end up with that killer tune only after pulling my hair out on something that started out quite crappy.

The reason this is all on my mind this morning is I am making a major move from Berlin to NYC in a few weeks. I finally will go from being a renter to landlord! There will be about six months of renovation before my all new music studio is a room a can work in. Yes you will see photos of the build and whatever sound treatment we use. Now to my point… I have seven great songs finished for my next album. I really need about twelve. I took what I had to the label that releases my music (www.outofline.de) to discuss the situation. In the end we decided to put off the release until Spring/Summer 2009. This way it will surely be something I am proud of.

Luckily we live in the internet age and because of that there is now distribution from artist to fan. I decided a good compromise would be to give away two of the best songs from the upcoming album to keep myself in the mind’s eye. So shortly after I get a little settled in New York and armed with some new promo photos I will do just that. I’ll shoot to the world a song I recorded called “Born this Way”. Besides my own websites and Social Media spots I will have my friends help me contact the million music blogs out there and see if they want to help spread the tune.

photo credit: in touch

14 Comments

  1. +1 for perfection.

    But I hope you aren’t REALLY throwing away those songs. I mean you don’t have to release them tomorrow, but don’t throw them away. Value you your archives. What you think of as crap today may end up being sheer genius in a decade. Let’s not forget that piece of crap song that Delila Deerbyshire almost through away. Luckily she didn’t :)

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  2. Can’t wait to hear the new stuff . I to trash alot of the songs i make , i feel it keeps me focused on the tunes that I have a deeper interest on moving along faster …not always the best choice for me but i guess it happen for a reason. ;)

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  3. Hey Oliver, this is kind of unrelated but having listened to your music more lately I’ve been curious: Do you master your tracks before releasing them? Both your albums seem rather quiet in comparison to other artists (not that that’s a bad thing), so I was curious if you just slap a limiter on the master or send it off to a mastering house. Cheers

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  4. Hi Silviu. Yeah in general Im against slammed music with no dynamic range… that said both my albums could be mastered better for sure. I master my song just a little bit with Izotope Ozone and leave a little headroom. My problem is the songs I like I fall in love with so I hate having them touched any further.

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  5. no more logins? i registered with your site last week hehe!

    anyways i think it’s better to have momentum until you start to get slammed for releasing crap music(even then who cares?). there are a lot of artists who i wish i could hear more of their music, but i feel like they are hoarding music that i would like, but are afraid to release it.

    i also feel like we have so many options for recording tracks these days that musicians have found themselves in option-paralysis. they say “it could be just a bit better”, until it never gets released.

    we have to think back to the old recording industry where the serious artists were busy releasing tons of records. you went to the studio and got it done.

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  6. Hi Mr. Tunes… sorry about the log-in stuff. It’s set now so that the first time you ever comment I need to approve it but then after that your comments should do right onto the blog. I don’t know how it got set to require log-ins… thats a bit overkill I think.

    I think if I were not signed to a label I would release a song a month for free then ask for donations. I would then have a subscription where fans would get an extra song every other month or something like that… music is already free really. Just thinking out loud.

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  7. I totally agree that great songs don’t just happen…

    however, sometimes the best way to make a good song is to write a bunch of pretty good songs, and then pick the specific parts tht make them good, and combine all those elements in one song.

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  8. Is it something you can control? Personally i cant control my output a great deal. What i mean is, i would love to make tracks faster but i always spend ages on them and get them perfect. Its not something i would sacrifice in favour of momentum. Having said that, some times tracks just make themselves exactly how you want them to really quickly! I used to think it was better to make tracks and stick with them when they were not going to plan, but then found it worked better to just start something else. It does mean more half finished tracks… But if you think of them as more ideas instead (to come back to later) then its all good :)

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  9. Yeah sometimes I can finish a great song in two days. Other times a month! Sometimes I’ll do a song and only until I redo it 2-3 times with totally different music, etc… then it gets great. It’s pretty difficult to consistently make great music yet it’s the lowest paying job with the most compeition… funny!

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  10. Save them songs you discard, release em as a side project in 10 years…The Horrorist…”Greatest Misses”. Seasoned fans will love you more, and the newbies will treat you like punk newbies treat The Ramones when they release box sets.

    There is nothing I love more than opening files from 4 years ago that are shiznit that I thought where whack 4 years ago.

    I LOVE alot of filler material off of Frankie Bones Ghetto Technics series. If you know the series well, you know the main tunes on them that Frankie and everyone spin are usually the ones with the dialogue samples from Hip Hop or Scarface or even the movie The Warriors. But its the “other” tunes that I think are not as popular that I just love. Just some good perc patterns ran through delay, filters, etc.

    Unfortunately, not everyone makes good filler, lolz.

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  11. Why are you moving back to NYC ?

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  12. One aspect of Live that helps me out when failed projects pile up is saving independent channels into a “Could Have Been” folder which lets me pull from a variety of good ideas that fell flat.

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  13. what’s your definition of perfection?

    Anyhow i feel your pain. I’m no where close to living off music. But happens with hobbyists too. lol.

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  14. Yah i can totally relate to this whole dilema. I released my first and only solo project about two and a half years ago, almost by accident. I never intended to have the songs mastered, but fate must have intervened, because when the opportunity arose, I turned in 7 of my favorite songs from the past three years and hoped for the best.

    This is what happened:

    1) a friend heard it and asked if he could play it on the radio. Next thing i know, i am hearing it every single day when i get out of work.
    2) the album gets put in heavy rotation
    3) I get named “Best Electronica Artist” in Miami by the New Times.
    4) I have a so called career in music all of a sudden

    So obviously the next thing to do would be to follow up with another record right? Umm…well that was the intention.

    Now at about 100 songs later, I am at the mixing and mastering stages of the follow up: 6 songs I dont hate. In the meantime, I have ditched my mpc in favor of a software based approach, learned how to use Logic enough to get by, and basically just explored the possibilities for workflow, using controllers, recording techniques, etc. Oh, yah, and I started a record label, Circuitree Records, which is just about to release a record with some giants such as Luke Vibert and Daedelus. I also have a group Junc Ops in which I write the lyrics. We have a record titled “2013.”

    All of this took alot of time. I have released a handful of singles on other labels, worked on my live setup and helped other artists find their way a bit too.

    I now generally spend about 80-200 hrs. on a single song, although some get done in 20-30. I am about sick of all the songs off my next record and even though I could keep going, i just have to be done with it. I am going to feel so much better then.

    Point:

    You cant rush music. A song will tell you how long it needs to come to fruition.

    And…sometimes you have to wander around in the dark until you find what you are looking for.

    Dont be afraid to shed your skin and try new things…it’s scary at first, but if the end goal is worth it, you will not regret forgoing instant gratification.

    Reply

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