Top Lessons I Learned from my EP

You Never Let Me Go

As you’ve probably heard, I released my new EP last week. It’s called You Never Let Me Go.

I hope you’ve had a chance to listen. If so, please let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you.

Today, I want to reflect on my Top Lessons that I learned during the production of this EP. Most of them involve things I didn’t do so well, or mistakes I made.

I hope that these lessons/mistakes are helpful for you. Let’s dive in!

If you don’t plan it, it may not happen

For this EP, I was going to do something differently. I was going to collaborate with other artists.

On my previous EP, I had done everything myself. I recorded all of the instruments and vocals, I did all of the editing, all of the mixing, and the mastering.

This time, the plan was to collaborate. My first idea was to hire a couple of people to play strings for a few songs. I was going to try recording them several times, and then pan them around and put them all together to sound more or less like an orchestra.

It didn’t happen.

I also figured I could get a couple of musician friends to hang out with me on pre-production day. We would discuss and plan out the songs together, so I would at least have some input from them on the direction that I might want to take with the songs.

This also didn’t happen.

There are a few reasons why these things didn’t happen. I’m not going to make excuses and say that “I didn’t have time” or “I just didn’t get the chance”. In reality, if I had truly set my mind on collaboration, it would have happened.

If you don’t plan it in, it won’t happen.

In other words, if there’s something that you really want to happen in your music, plan it in, and make it work. No one is going to do it for you. You need to make it happen.

This is particularly true when it’s something difficult. In my example, it’s much easier just to do everything myself. It’s harder to try to schedule in other musicians. It’s more scary.

So be aware when the thing you want to happen is something that scares you. If that is the case, you need to be even more intentional about doing it. Otherwise, you’ll avoid it, and it won’t happen.

Be the master of your deadlines, don’t let them master you

I love deadlines.

They have helped me so much in the past. Whenever I set a deadline for a project and tell people about it, I’m much more motivated to get the project done.

This project was no exception, except for one thing.

I didn’t hit my deadline.

My plan was to have the final masters done by the end of August. In reality, they were done a few weeks later, in mid September.

Deadlines are great motivators. But do you know what happens when you miss a deadline?

For me, the first thing to pop up is shame and embarrassment. I told others about the deadline, and I didn’t hit it. What are they going to think of me?

And you know, that’s not such a bad thing. That’s what make deadlines work. You try to hit the deadline in order to avoid that feeling.

But here’s the tragedy: at that point, many people quit. They figure “oh well, I didn’t hit my deadline, I guess I failed.” And then they don’t finish.

Don’t do that.

When I didn’t hit my deadline, I still knew that I was much further ahead than if I hadn’t set one at all. I was very close to being done, and I knew that I just had to push ahead and finish.

Be the master of your deadlines. Let them drive you, but don’t let them master you. If you fail, get back up, readjust, and keep moving.

Use your time wisely

I had some time off work over the summer, and the plan was to use my days off to work on my EP.

Well, I did. Kind of.

The problem is, I didn’t push myself. I slept in a lot. I went for walks. I had nice long lunch breaks. Before long, the day would be almost over, and I would only have spent a couple of hours working on music.

Now I’m not saying that you should devote all your time off to be in the studio. Taking some time to yourself is healthy.

But if you do devote time to making music, use it wisely. Don’t waste it. Set a time slot with yourself, and guard it vigilantly. Don’t neglect time with family, friends, and other responsibilities of course. But make sure that you don’t sell your own time short.

This is something I definitely struggled with during my last EP. Hopefully you (and I) can learn from my mistakes.

Expect the Unexpected

Things are going to go wrong.

Things are going to take longer than expected.

Despite my previous point, sometimes things will come up that will take precedence over studio time.

That’s ok.

For me, I try to schedule my studio time early in the week. And then I leave some time slots open later in the week.

This way, if something comes up, or takes longer than expected, I have some buffer time to fall back on.

This doesn’t always work, but it’s a good strategy for dealing with the unexpected.

So there are my biggest lessons that I learned during my EP.

I hope you can learn from them, and I hope you can avoid making the same mistakes as me.

But despite a lot of things that aren’t perfect about this EP, I must say that I’m very happy with it.

As you probably know by know, I’m offering a discount for this week only on a video series that I shot while producing this EP. It’s called the EP Insider Pack.

If you like the idea of being able to follow along with me as I walk you through the various parts of the production process, you should definitely check it out.

The sale goes away this Saturday night, so take a look today and see if it’s right for you. I think you’ll like it, and I think it will be helpful for you in your musical journey.

Any of these lessons resonate with you? Have you made any of the same mistakes as me? Leave a comment below!

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6 thoughts on “Top Lessons I Learned from my EP

  1. Alex,

    My wife and I recently (back in August) decided we were going to be a zero-waste home. It wasn’t just – wouldn’t it be cool to create only a mason jar worth of waste a year like Bea Johnson, but to actually do it. With careful planning and adjusting our shopping (especially grocery shopping) – bringing our own containers to the Co-oP and buying in bulk, refusing to buy anything in a package we can’t recycle or compost, and having these containers/reusable shopping bags in both of our cars made for this transition to be easy (ier). We still make more waste than we would like but only a small grocery bag a month now and that is getting smaller. Most weeks, I don’t even have trash to take to the local dump.

    The point here is that like all goals – making an EP, for example – you have to have a plan and revisit the plan often to make sure you are making progress and to adjust the trajectory as necessary to make it happen. Congratulations on Making It Happen!

    Peace,
    Josh

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    1. Hey Josh,

      That’s really. cool….might be something my wife and I have to try. There’s definitely a lot of waste these days. It would be interesting to try to reduce it. Sounds tough, but I imagine it’s well worth it.

      And yes, I agree. Have a plan, readjust as necessary, get it done!

      Thanks man 🙂
      Alex

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  2. Hello Alex,

    Working on a schedule is the best you can do, be it on a zero-waste-home(what a wonderfull idea!), be it on recording/producing, be it on spending time with family and friends.

    Your Time-Managent blog a few months back still echoes through :).

    BUT, in my opinion and experience, if you schedule too tight, you will get frustrated. You will not achieve your goals, because you planned too much.

    The tricky part is to find this golden in-between-thing. Record a few tracks in the morning, have lunch, do some reading/learning on recording/mixing or try out a few Tricks and techniques you read about (or record a few tracks more) and than spend valuable time with your family. I still have deadlines, which I do not always make, but I do not feel bad about it, because I keep an eye on my goals all the time.

    Working with other musicians (mainly friends as in ‘they do it for fun and not for the money’)also keeps me going, because they want to hear some results.

    Yeah, I’ve been there, seen it, done it and took a bit from everything which suited me the best. Nowadays, I do have a kind of schedule and do not feel bad to make adjustments, if necessary.

    Have a wonderfull weekend.

    Cheers,
    Pete

    Like

    1. Hey Pete,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I totally agree. If you plan in too much, you get overwhelmed or burnt out. But then again, if you plan too little, then you won’t achieve as much as you could. You’re right: it’s an “in-between” sort of balance. And it’s not easy to find where that balance is.

      You mentioned goals as well, and pressing toward them. I think that’s key. At least it is for me. Have a good mix of long, medium, and short term goals is good.

      You have a wonderful weekend too! 🙂

      Alex

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  3. Thanks Alex for your informative and lengthy emails and knowledge in recording EPs, etc. We need help in our Home Recordings all the time. It’s truly an art form that we artist can use to get better and better using all the latest digital technology and DAW programs. So much to learn. Thanks again for your volunteered time and help.

    It’s good to hear that you set time aside, a couple of hours, to work on your music. I end up spending days and days, hours and hours working on my songs at a time before I feel they are good as I can get them.

    Like

    1. Hey Paul,

      No problem, man! Glad you find the emails and posts helpful! That’s why I do it 🙂

      It’s true, there is so much to learn. And yeah, it’s good to set a deadline, or an amount of time you plan to spend on a specific project. It’s a great motivator to actually get it done. Sometimes the things you spend hours and days on aren’t the most important things, and you can actually get away with doing just as good a job with less time. Depends on the situation of course. But yeah, deadlines are a great way to get things done! 🙂

      Have a good one!

      Alex

      Like

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