This chapter is sampled from the new ebook, written by StrangeFlow, Guerilla Blueprints for Creative Passive Income, available now for just a few bucks! It’s great for helping generate income ideas as a musician or DJ. It’s not a great-rich-quick book, and it won’t encourage you to become a douchey sell-out who’s only making art-for-profit, but it WILL help you come up with clever and inventive new ways to help pay the rent with your artistic talents (and feel fucking good about it, too).
It also includes a variety of tips and techniques for getting your craft going in the studio. One of the chapters is about motivation loops vs. one shots, as they apply to your attitude in the studio (and not just actual audio one-shots and loops). So I decided to include this chapter here, for this free post, for you guys to check out :)
Bass kicks, snares, hats, and my personal favorite: the 808 cowbell – they’re all one-shot drum samples.
One shots don’t typically last very long. On a sequencer, you see them spaced out between one another, unless you turn them into a loop. A loop is prolonged and continuous, and contains anything you trigger to potentially play over and over.
Most people have motivation like a one-shot drum sample; that is, it’s a burst, a boom, a snap… and then nothing, until they get another one-shot of motivation going – and then burn out once more, etc…
My point is, what you want, in terms of drive, is something more sustained – a loop of motivation that you can focus on, and keep striving and working hard with, for as long as necessary. This is one of the main differences between musicians that develop successful careers and meaningful creations consistently – and artists who try really hard for a little while and then give up too quickly.
Motivation can come in many forms. I think the trick is to find something to inspire and motivate you that is likely to last a long time. If you enjoy making songs and tunes and remixes and it’s a pastime for you, something you do to unwind, then that can actually be a pretty great motivator for you – or at very least, a great motivator to getting you into the studio to begin with, which is the biggest hurdle to conquer.
There are obviously exceptions, but a lot of people don’t attain the things they want because they don’t try to do the things they really want to do, and they don’t try these things because they’re afraid to fail, and so they never end up starting the project in the first place. Starting your journey is the most important step, but keeping the journey going is also one of the most important steps possible. So kick up the sustain lever on your loops!
There are many different techniques, motivations, and inspirational ideas out there to help you keep the sustain knob turned all the way up. Some folks find that competition motivates them (the fact that sports are so fucking popular proves that) and other folks find that the mere drive to outdo themselves is motivation enough to keep you striving.
What motivates you now might change with time, for example, I know there are a lot of folks who get into DJing specifically because they think they’ll be a lot cooler and get laid a lot more. Now, while there’s nothing wrong with being cool and getting laid, usually the folks who are only concerned with that don’t end up sticking with it very long; something else will come along, and they’ll gravitate towards that. They’ll likely get bored with the DJ thing, or with failing to “get big” overnight…
“Getting big” is also one of those ideas that can be defined in many different ways, from personal achievement, to world glory, and everything in between – in fact, MOSTLY somewhere in between.
Similar to what inspires you, your goals will likely change over time, but it can help to have an idea where you want to go, and then figure out how to inspire and motivate yourself to get there.
I truly feel that inspiration is not something that you have to just wait for, as if it’s about to fall in your lap, randomly. If you cultivate a creative-minded lifestyle and learn to see how fascinating life is, all around you, you will have a much easier time “finding” inspiration in the studio. I also don’t believe you have to get high to find inspiration (though, at times, it definitely doesn’t hurt) but I think whatever internal forces are guiding you to keep going and keep trying harder, you should try to recognize them consciously, and try to pull as much energy from these forces as humanly possible, and focus them on whatever musical or artistic project you are working on. Concerning the “Sustaining the Loop” method, go back, again and again, and reconsider all of the ideas, forces, and goals that keep you hungry and keep you going. This will not only keep you focused for right now, but in the future as well – when you run out of steam and want to give up, you’ll consciously retain logical and/or emotional reasons to push yourself to passionately keep striving as long as possible.
Think like a champion. Would a champion give up when things get difficult? Fuck no! The champion would press on harder, until every last ounce of strength from their body has drained out and onto the floor.
Would a champion allow doubt to creep in? Sure, for a minute; but upon realizing that doubts concerning ambition are usually emotional and fear-based, they can destroy them with consistent logic and persistently reminding oneself of the end goals in mind.
Everyone has doubts, and if they say they don’t, they’re either crazy or they’re just fucking lying. It’s OK to have doubts, but don’t allow yourself to let these useless thoughts suck out your energy or mooch your time away and leave you to go back to the couch and watch tv, or go listen to some other champion’s music instead of making your own (obviously I’m not saying you should never listen to music someone else made, I’m just talking about listening to someone else’s music whilst giving up on your own).
So, overall, some of the big ideas here are to initialize and maintain constant motivation loops of which you will consciously and consistently check and re-check and re-re-check-check, over and over. This process is made easier by having them written down. It’s a great idea to not only keep them written down, but also scan them, every morning, as well as before you’re about to spend time on your newest major creative project – and whatever the project may be, you should consider it major.
Well, because it’s good to think big, but it’s even better to think HUGE, and that’s just how champions think! Every new project you embark upon, therefore, is a major project.
In your notebook (remember, this post is taken from the new StrangeFlow Ebook, so it references a notebook which you might not have on-hand… A word document or notepad document is also fine…) write out ten things that inspire you to want to be creative, under a headline that reads, “Ten Reasons to Create.” On the next page, write out, “Ten Reasons to Work Hard,” which will include any and every reason you can think of (so, obviously, it’s not limited to just ten items) that have kept you working in the past.
This one might be easier than you realize. Have you ever held a job in the past that you weren’t fond of? Why did you keep working on those days that you wanted to throw in the towl? Writing down, “because I had to pay the rent,” is acceptable (and, to be honest, most people will write that down as one of their first reasons). After you get down the page a little bit, you’ll start to realize that some of the later items on your list might not have been obvious to you from the get-go. When you need these lists to help you out in the future, you might only need to look at one item on just one of these lists to get you going. If you get to the tenth item and you can’t think of any more reasons for your “Work Hard” list, you might just write something with funk and flair, like, “…Because that’s just one a fucking champion does!” Who knows – you might just look at it one day, and think, “Hell yea, this is what a champion fucking does,” and you’ll get right to work!
Your reasons can be anything you can think of, from vanity-soaked indulgences such as, “World glory,” to OCD reasons like, “If I don’t constantly work on something, I’ll go stir crazy and start smoking cigarettes again… Sigh…” It’s OK to have an odd and highly-personalized list, and there’s no specific reason I can think of to show anyone this list, ever. You might even have something on your list like, “…To become extremely successful, so (insert name here) will regret insulting me by telling me that, (insert insult here) when I’m world famous in ten years, and he/she is still (insert extremely unappealing and painfully menial profession here)…”
You get the idea.
Whatever works, works.
Plus, as I stated earlier, you can make a new list later, if you feel that your previous lists of reasons have grown inadequate over time. If you stick with it for years and years, you will find that your top ten reasons will change, and again, that’s completely fine, and quite natural, too.
Again, it is also extremely important to try to keep in mind what your goals are, as this will be the third list: “Ten Goals To Reach.”
If you’ve already had experience in the past working on creative projects, these lists should all be easier for you, but it’s completely fine if you haven’t. You have to start somewhere, and this is something that will definitely help you. You’re physically growing the part of your brain responsible for your increased ambition. Plus, doing things like this have to work – it’s basic math: keep a loop sustained, and it will go infinitely further than a simple one-shot.
Let the others be fuckin’ one-shots…