You know what I think is the biggest obstacle for home studio owners today?
It’s not money. You can get amazing recordings these days on budget gear.
It’s not time. This might be controversial, but I truly believe that “time management” is a misnomer. It’s all about priority management. You have just as many hours in a week as everybody else. You have the power to prioritize them, and choose what you’re going to do with them.
It’s not even technique. There are many resources both online and offline that teach you how to record and mix your own music. You can improve your technique and skill easily if you’re committed.
So what’s the biggest obstacle?
Too many options.
There are too many plugins. Too many DAW’s. Too many guitars. Too many choices.
Having too many options is paralyzing. We spend so much time trying to do the “right” thing or make the “right” choice that we’re scared to settle on a decision because we think we’re doing something wrong or suboptimal.
As a result, we spend all of our time researching and comparing options, leaving less time to actually make music.
That being said, there’s another side of the spectrum. I learned this while recording my latest EP this summer.
(I just released it, by the way! Check it out here, and if you’re interested in learning how I did it, check out the EP Insider Pack as well)
You see, not enough options is also a problem.
On my EP, I had plenty of options available to me at various stages of the process. I had several cymbals I could switch out on my drum kit. I had several different bass guitars and electric guitars for different tones. I used a Line6 amp modeler so I had plenty of amps and pedals to choose from.
So what’s the deal? If options are so bad, why did I give myself so many options?
Because options are great, as long as you use them to expand your creativity.
Just because I had 5 electric guitars sitting in the room with me doesn’t mean I spent a bunch of time trying to decide what was the best guitar to use. In fact, I only used two for most of the songs.
I used a few different guitars to give me some variety in tone. It was never a question of what was the “right” guitar to use, or even what was the “best” guitar to use. I just simply had more toys to fiddle around with until I got a sound that worked.
Now there’s still a danger here. It’s easy to spend all your time fiddling around and not getting any work done.
But if you simply use more options as a means to get some more variety in your sound, then it’s not as paralyzing. It can even be freeing, and very creative.
If you find that you’re spending more time researching or playing around than actually making music, you probably need to reduce your options. Go on a “diet” and make music using a minimal setup.
But if you do want a few options (different guitars for example), make sure you use the options to enhance your tonal variety and creativity. Don’t aim for perfection, because it will paralyze you.
Ever been paralyzed by too many options? Tell me about it! Leave a comment below.
4 thoughts on “The Subtle Balance Between Too Many Options and Not Enough”
very well said. Too many options and striving for absolute perfection lessens productivity and leads me away from the artistic value of the song itself.
Thanks Jim! I agree 100%. “Done” is better than “Perfect”.
I’ve DEFINITELY Been an option victim… 🙂
Haha. I hear ya. It’s a hurdle that I know a lot of people struggle with.
Thanks for checking out the site, Ryan! It was good to see you today 🙂