After a long day you sit down at your desk and open up your DAW to start a new track. It’s been weeks since you last had the opportunity to produce and you’re just itching to get something out.
30 minutes later you realize you haven’t really done anything. It just doesn’t feel right. You haven’t got any ideas – your mind is completely blank. Netflix is awaiting anyway.
Inspiration (or lack of) is a tough thing to deal with as a creative person, but are there ways to find inspiration?
Yes. In this post I’m going to share 30 ways that you can find inspiration for your music.
1. Take a night out. Hearing EDM on a club system is a great reminder of how it’s really supposed to sound.
2. Base your song around visuals. Photos and visual art are great sources of inspiration for music.
3. Mix two ideas together. Good songs always have a minimum of two ideas. Example: festival type energy & mellow breakdown.
4. Work from a theme. Groovy? Sad? Enlightening? Pick a theme for your track and you’ll find inspiration flows.
5. Listen to the best music you know. It shouldn’t discourage you as a producer, it should inspire you.
6. Clean your workspace. Clear workspace = less distractions and a clear head.
7. Download a new sample pack. A few gems in sample packs can inspire full tracks on their own.
8. Read a book. Fiction, music production related, it doesn’t matter. Pick one up and read it.
9. Time yourself. A sense of urgency can do wonders for inspiration.
10. Sleep on it. If it isn’t coming, wait till tomorrow and let your sub-conscious deal with it overnight.
11. Create something every day. Build the habit of creating music daily. Write a melody every morning, or an 8-bar drum loop.
12. DJ? Have a quick mix session. Jump on the decks and mix a few tunes together. It’ll bring you back into the musical zone.
13. Use reference tracks as a starting point. Not sure where to start? Copy elements from tracks you like and work from there.
14. Take a break. Take a couple of days off from producing and you’ll be brimming with ideas and inspiration by the end of them.
15. Break a rule. Build tension up to nothing, pan your sub-bass, go crazy! Rule-breaking often brings interesting results.
16. Force it. If you’re paid to produce then you know you can’t just wait around for inspiration. You have to push through.
17. Sample audio from other sources. Sample songs, movies, and YouTube videos.
18. Work on one thing at a time. Inspiration is hard to find when there’s so much to do. Start with just one thing like sound design.
19. Remix a track. The best thing about remixes is that the main idea already exists. You have something to work from.
20. Collaborate. Collaboration is a great way to learn new things and capture new ideas.
21. Travel somewhere. Travelling somewhere can be an inspirational experience, seeing new sights and hearing new sounds.
22. Go to a festival. I guarantee that after coming out of recovery mode you’ll be stuck in your studio for days on end.
23. Brainstorm. Use a whiteboard or large piece of paper and just write shit down.
24. Be consistent. Don’t be a seasonal producer – someone who takes 2 months off every now and then. Inspiration becomes less of a problem the more consistent you are.
25. Produce “live.” If you’re an Ableton Live user then you’ve probably tried this. Start in session view, keep a loop going, and add stuff as you go.
26. Change your environment. Why not go outside and produce with headphones? Or drive to an isolated place and write down ideas?
27. Have a microphone? Record random sounds around your household. Try water bottles, elastic bands, furniture, kitchen materials.
28. Listen critically to other music. Don’t listen to music on a surface level. Take time to analyse and listen to the details.
29. Form a ritual. Example: every morning I time myself 20 minutes and create a loop. Form a daily ritual and you’ll be amazed at how many ideas you come up with.
30. Get out, get busy, and do things. Don’t be a hermit producer. Go out with friends and make memories. Turn them into tracks later on.
What do you do for inspiration? Let me know in the comments below!