Why Produce Music Anyway?
For the past 8 or so years, I’ve written on this site, made videos on YouTube, and then sort of went off the grid for 3 years.
All while I was pondering the question: What’s the point of making music?
You see, when someone creates music, it’s usually for themselves – it feels important, valuable, and meaningful.
But what does it do for others? How are you contributing to the community?
Having not found an answer, I became demotivated to produce music or create videos. I felt like I wasn’t providing any value, so I stopped doing it. I know I sound like a self-serving bugger, but it’s true.
Plus, as I became older, I started a family and began having commitments. Eventually, I dwelled in digital marketing and found I could provide quantifiable results for other businesses. Life got in the way. I began doing more marketing for other companies. And this site stopped receiving updates.
Over that downtime, I received many emails from acquisition companies asking if I’d sell the website.
Few years later, I’m back.
I wouldn’t say that I found the meaning of life or the point of making music, but there are a few things I learned that may resonate with you.
Why we produce music
There are two reasons why we produce music.
- It’s art, and we do it for ourselves.
- We do it for others. (While enjoying the process)
There is nothing wrong to want to produce music for yourself. It’s art. Self-expression. A hobby for some.
But if you want to make a living producing music, then you need to provide some sort of value for others. Money only comes when you do something valuable for others.
How to create value by producing music
Creativity doesn’t end in your DAW. It continues beyond your home studio.
Here is a list of some ideas to create value for others with music production. But don’t stop here. Think out of the box. Ask yourself, “How can I be more valuable to my audience?”
1. Entertain them
People listen to music for all sorts of reasons. For entertainment, to indulge in emotions, to find relatability, to be understood, and more.
Become entertaining, looking beyond just music. Engage your audience with the other senses – sight, smell, touch, taste. It’s also why musicians produce music videos. Beyond the sense of hearing, they visually engage their audience.
2. Produce music for picture
Music is an important element in many products. Games, movies, apps, brands.
Can you imagine watching a horror movie without sound? It wouldn’t be scary at all!
Move from producing music for public display to producing custom music.
3. Tell stories
Get people to be emotionally interested in you through storytelling.
- Why do you produce only certain types of music?
- Why do you only use certain types of instruments?
- What life difficulties are you portraying in your music?
- Who did you compose this piece for?
Stories give meaning to otherwise just another music piece.
4. Produce music for brands
Netflix’s “BA-DUMM” sound logo reminds you of the terabytes of content now ready in front of your fingertips. It’s memorable and very successful.
Create value by producing memorable sound idents for brands.
5. Music for a cause
What’s the difference between producing a theme song for a kindergarten’s annual concert versus a theme song for a freedom rally?
It comes down to the impact it brings. Look for opportunities to produce music for a bigger cause.
6. Become a ghost producer
A ghost producer is simply someone who produces music for other artists but doesn’t receive credit for it. Yet, they are creating value for someone else.
Sure, some will frown upon ghost producers, saying things like “You’re missing out on the limelight if a track hits”.
At the end of the day, it comes down to what you want to optimize for in your life. Are you optimizing for money, fame, or freedom? People who optimize their careers for fame will disagree with ghost-producing. But if you’re optimizing for freedom (like I do), ghost-producing might be an area to go for.
Where is the money already flowing?
The greatest tip I can share with you is to go where people are already spending money.
People already spending money to attend rave parties? What about putting together a rave event and dropping some of your music?
People already spending money on music lessons? What about teaching music production to people who want to publicly publish their art?
Be obsessed about being valuable
It is the way to escape being a starving artist.
Music producers, whether industry-level or hobbyist – can provide value for other people. Focus on making money with your music. Because if people give you money, it’s proof that you’re providing them with something of value.
Talking about money may sound like a taboo. But right now – it’s one of my missions to get more music producers out of the starving artist syndrome.
This post is inspired by Derek Sivers, founder of CDBaby on Valuable to Others, or Only You?