So you’ve been working away at an incredible idea for your next release, and you want to make sure it’s just right. You’ve edited and tweaked your lyrics and melodies close to utter perfection. But is it close enough?
Perfectionism is the curse of many an artist. The idea that your song may have a little flaw in it can keep you petrified from ever releasing it out to the world if you let it. So one of the most important things you can learn is when to put down your pen and say the song is finished.
Luckily, we’ve got a few tips to help you know for sure!
Ask your friends their opinions
This one may seem a bit obvious, but it is tried and true. A set of fresh ears and honest opinions on your project can help determine whether or not it’s time to say good riddance and put down your masterpiece to let it be the way it is.
Friends are a great first choice, because even though they’re supportive, their body language can be a good indicator to the state of your song. Additionally, unless they’re also aspiring musicians, they’ll likely listen through the consumer’s ear and offer you opinions from that perspective. So before you spend another six hours tweaking your snare drum, pick up the phone and get a new opinion for a friend or three.
Ask your colleagues their opinion
Contrary to the consumer opinion, every once in a while it’s nice to ask a musical colleague what they think. This is because if they do hear an issue, they’re likely to be able to help pinpoint exactly what the problem might be, and even tell you how to fix it. Their trained, yet objective ears may pick up on things that a friend could miss.
A fellow musician is also more likely to understand how hard it is to decide that your song is officially done. Most artists we know face this dilemma everyday. They might even be that necessary encouraging voice that helps push you over the finish line, and know that the song is ready.
Ask yourself if anyone will really notice any of the small changes
Next, it’s time to look internally. If you’ve asked your friends or colleagues, or you’d rather decide on your own, one fail safe tip is to look at the song through a grand scope. You know that kick you’ve been adjusting for the last hour and a half? Or that lyric line you’ve been debating using ‘so’ or ‘but’ in over and over?
Ask yourself if anyone but yourself is likely to notice such a minor change. If the answer is no, you’re probably finished with the song. If the answer is yes, you may want to follow one of the other steps to find a solution to how to fix that before you get too frustrated.
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Check in with yourself
The act of releasing music is inherently vulnerable. It’s very important to check in with yourself during this process to make sure you’re not standing in your own way. Try to make sure to regularly ask yourself if you might be delaying your release out of fear, or if there’s something else holding you back.
Whether or not that’s the case, it’s always healthy to slow down and check in with yourself on how you’re doing. Whether or not it’s in a musical process. So really, you’re doing two good things in one action. Good for you.
Take a break and a listen with fresh ears
When all else is said and done, sometimes you really just need fresh ears. If the only way to get to that finish line is by listening through yourself, take a day, a week, however long you need (as long as you set yourself a deadline, of course), and listen in again.
Do you still notice any tweaks? If not, it’s time to put the song to rest.
So there you have it, 5 ways to gain some clarity on how to know your song is finished. We’re all in this great crazy world of music together. The more we can help each other out, the better. That being said, sometimes in order to grow, we must let go of our work, and continue working.
We hope this article helps you do so. Have any other tips for finishing up the perfect song? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Sammy Hakim is an up and coming young songwriter based in Los Angeles. In May 2018 she graduated from Berklee College of Music with a Major in songwriting and a focus in music business. These days she spends most of her time in songwriting sessions with artists all over the country.
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