If you’re a songwriter chances are you have a bunch of unfinished songs. The secret of how to finish songs is actually pretty simple: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” (Either Kate Sanborn or Thomas Edison said something like that depending on who you ask).

The point is, you’re not finishing songs because sometime you just need to work on them. It can be frustrating and downright exasperating but if you persist and with a few “tricks” you can get more songs finished than ever before.

  1. Regular songwriting time. Set aside an hour (at least) 5 days a week to work on your music. Learning to work on your music when you don’t feel like it is the quickest way to get more songs finished. Take it from me, inspiration WILL come but first you need to position yourself to be inspired.
  2. Pre-produce your tracks. 10% of your time on a project should go into planning how the project should come together. It makes sense. If you skip this part you’ll be fumbling your way through without a clear picture of where you’re going. You might not end up completely where you were headed but at least it will be a decision you made rather than something you stumbled on. 
  3. Use reference tracks. This can help you to get ideas to write, what structure and sounds to use. It can also show you if you’re close of not to your sonic goal. Bring the track or tracks into your session in your DAW and use it to help you orient yourself as you’re writing, recording and mixing. It’s not cheating, it’s working smarter by using scaffolding to help you work quicker.
  4. Bounce down mixes. When you get stuck on a track, bounce a mix down. Take it somewhere fresh and listen to it in a new environment. This will help to give you “new ears” for the song. Write down the things that need work. Then go back in the studio, fix just those things and bounce another mix. Take it away again, listen, make any more notes, make those changes … rinse and repeat until you haven’t got any more tweaks. DON’T get stuck “fiddling” with the song, just make the changes that need to be made.
  5. Set yourself a deadline that you can’t back out of. If you’re an artist with a following, set the deadline for the song to drop and send it out to your socials. Or book in the mastering session or mix session so you have to be done by that date. If you’re more of a hobbyist, tell a friend that you’re going to send them your new song on a specific date.

In the end, the tips above are only valuable if they are used. You can finish more songs and it’s not rocket surgery. All it takes is a little grit and smart hard work.

I’d love to hear your success stories or your own tips that have worked for you to get more songs finished faster. Please leave them in the comments below.

Photo by Maxwell Hunt on Unsplash


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