Producers remorse and why you need to sit on your tunes

Buyer’s remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item such as a car or house. It may stem from fear of making the wrong choice, guilt over extravagance, or a suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller.

We’ve all had that feeling when buying something. The next day, or maybe even the first time you use whatever you’ve bought you get that knot in your stomach and think “Ah shit. I probably didn’t need to buy that.”

There is a production equivalent and without a decent existing phrase I call it Producers Remorse. This is when you finish a track, usually late at night throw a quick mastering chain on it and get it straight onto SoundCloud, usually accompanied by posting it onto twitter and facebook.

“Hey bro! Check out my new track!”

And then the next day comes, and you listen to it again, and it inevitably sounds terrible. Or certainly different. But mostly terrible. There are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, your ears have recovered. The previous evening if you’ve been producing for over an hour then it’s likely you will have become fatigued, especially since it’s quite common to have louder music in the evening as your ears are already overused.

Secondly, maybe you’ve had a beer or two. Maybe you’ve smoked something for additional creative benefits. Well this is definitely going to impact what it sounds like the next day.

So my simple tips on avoiding this first problem are to turn your computer off and go to bed. The next day you can have another listen and it’s likely you will turn the bass down and level the treble a bit and your mix will be more balanced. You will certainly notice something slap you in the face, usually a clap. I have had a reoccurring issue for 20 years in that my kicks are always too boxy the next day. I have learned to pick that out early on now but even a year ago I would listen to my tunes the next day and was positive that someone had sneaked into the studio in the night and turned my kick up. In fact I’m kidding myself. It still happens a lot.

That’s the most basic thing which you can look at the next day.

Following that, is the music actually any good? You’ve just been listening to a loop for 4 hours and it’s 11pm at night.

You have no idea if it’s any good or not.

My advice here is to not listen to it for another week. Then if you still think it’s cool try and play it out or post it privately to someone and ask for their honest opinion. Good labels will help you develop your sound to release something that is great so it’s ok to send it to them at this point if they have asked you to work on an EP.

Develop that rhino skin though because the advice is hard to take sometimes. I once had a good friend of mine tell me bluntly on a tune I thought was really cool “It has no edge to it. There is no tension and I couldn’t be bothered to listen to more than 30 seconds”. Fuck me, that was a tough comment to take :-/

Then you’ve also got the fact that anything you post on the internet can drag you down forever. Kr!s from Token Records put it excellently the other day on this facebook post.

“- Not everything you create has to see the light of day. Be your own worst critic. Less is more.
– Understand that once you release a record, you can’t erase it, so make sure you’re 200% behind the music, cause 1 bad decision can have an impact on your artist profile for the rest of your musical life.” Kr!z

So more than just ‘does it sound good, is it well produced’ now you need to think ‘will I be happy to have this attached to me for the rest of my life?’

A year ago I was still putting out music that by the time it came to releasing it I was bored of it and wouldn’t play it. If I feel like that about my tunes on release day why on earth would anyone else see lasting value? Now I sit on tunes for months before releasing anything and then go through a torturous process to work out what I want to release and what I don’t want to. I don’t mind adding remixes and cut tunes later on to bandcamp releases as some people find interest and value in that but I try to ensure that my main releases now consist of music that I will at least want to play later on in my life, and that’s kind of the point.

Quality over quantity.

And just a final note. I can’t find the tweet to post it as it was a while back but @djdaveclarke posted on twitter about 6 months ago about dead SoundCloud links as promos. He’d been trying to listen to promos and the links didn’t exist anymore. You’ve got one of the most famous and respected techno DJs in the world, actively trying to listen to your music, and I have first hand experience that he will promote anything that he loves, and he can’t hear it because you’ve removed the promo. A real shame, do you think he will try and listen to your tunes next time you send something?

So to summarise:

  1. Wait
  2. Wait
  3. Wait some more
  4. Get feedback
  5. Ditch 90% of your music
  6. Wait
  7. Publish

I hope this helps.

Cheers, Stu