How To Conquer Your Fear And Make Better Music

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What if fear is holding your music back?

Hey, this is Jason from Behind The Speakers, and in this video you’ll learn how to conquer your fear and make better music.

Now you might be thinking fear? This is a channel about mixing tips and advice and music making, what does fear have to do with any of this stuff? And I’m here to tell you that whether you realize it or not, fear is a huge part of the music making process. It affects just about everything that you do, and so i think it’s important that we talk about it. Because if you know how to manage fear within the music making process you’re going to be able to make better-sounding music, and the whole process itself is just going to be a lot more fun. But if you’re still on the fence, if you’re still thinking fear? I don’t know if this applies to me. I just want to give you a couple of examples of places that fear commonly shows up in the music making process.

Now the first is perfectionism. This idea that we’re just going to toil away forever on a mix or a production, and we spend more and more and more time trying to make it perfect. And I think the root of this comes from this feeling that we’re afraid that what we’ve created isn’t good enough. And so if we put in one more hour or one more day on the mix, or we spend – you know – another session working on it, then – you know – our idea in our head is that we’re going to reach this point where everything’s perfect and we’re going to feel okay with sharing it with the world because we’re secretly kind of afraid of opening up and sharing the things that we’ve created with others. So fear is a huge part of this whole perfectionism mindset around toiling away forever to make things perfect.

The second place that fear shows up in the music making process is around sharing our work. So a lot of people, myself included, have felt fear around putting our music out there, right? We feel like a sense of just vulnerability about sharing the stuff that we’ve created with the world, and so we might come up with all sorts of excuses in our head about why we can’t share our music. Maybe we feel like it’s not good enough, or maybe we don’t have the right gear, or maybe we’re just waiting for the perfect song to be able to share it with others, right? So this idea of hoarding our work and not showing anybody else what we’ve created I think is very much rooted in fear, because one of the scariest things to do is to be able to say hey this is what I’ve created. Maybe it’s not perfect but this is where I’m at and I want to share this with the world.

And the third example of where fear shows up in the music making process is around obsessing over what everybody else is doing, whether that’s the sound of the music on the radio and trying to copy that using the same virtual instruments and sounds to try to recreate that sound that already exists, or obsessing over the gear that everybody else is using and the plug-ins that everybody else is using, and watching videos and just copying what everybody else is doing. I think a lot of this obsession over what everybody else is up to is rooted in fear, because the scariest thing to do is just to take your own path and come up with your own answers and your own solutions and create music that’s original, right? That’s scary. And so our fear drives us to look at others and copy what they’re doing instead of be original and truly be creative and create things that are an expression of who we are.

Now there are so many problems that this fear creates for us as music makers. It wastes so much of our time and money. It creates anxiety and depression. And most importantly, it holds us back from sharing our unique gifts with things that we really want to say with the world. So if this sounds like you, if you feel like fear is holding you back, I want to share a couple of pieces of advices with you.

Now I’m no expert on fear. I haven’t conquered it in my own life. But I have learned some things that have helped me manage fear within my music making process, and also just in my life. And so my hope is by sharing those things with you, they’ll help you as well. And this stuff is so important. It’s one of the most important things that I can share with you. So I really hope that you take this and implement it into your life, because it’s made a big difference for me and I hope that it’ll do the same for you.

Now my first piece of advice for you is to recognize that you’re not alone. Now this might sound obvious, but fear is so universal. It’s something that we all struggle with, myself included. It’s something that is a part of every single day of my life. And I know it is for you too, because that’s just what it means to be human. And if there’s one thing I can say from running Behind The Speakers, from hearing from thousands of music makers all over the world, is that fear is such a huge part of the music making process regardless of whether you are an amateur or someone who is just starting out, or a professional musician who’s a Grammy-winning artist all over the – you know- touring all over the world. Fear is so universal. And I think that you can take some comfort in knowing that if you feel like it’s holding you back, you’re not alone. Everyone out there is struggling with it too. So that’s the first thing, really just understanding that fear is normal. You’re not weird. You’re not some abhorration of humanity. It’s just a part of being human.

The second piece of advice I have for you is to learn to recognize when fear shows up. Now this was something that I really have been working on over the past few years. I started meditating a few years ago,and I started out with an app on my phone called Headspace. And I just started doing ten minutes a day. And for those of you who have never meditated, it’s actually really simple. You just close your eyes and notice your breath and your body, and basically just sit there for however long you want to sit there for.

Now what’s really interesting about meditation is that over time, what happens is as you meditate regularly, you become much better at noticing the stuff that’s going on inside of you. So what ends up happening is let’s say you are creating music for example, and then you just finished a song and you’re about to hit that bounce button and maybe upload it to your SoundCloud and then you notice that you feel this kind of tension in your body. So meditation allows you to become better at recognizing when that moment appears.

And there’s a lot of power in that because once you notice what’s going on inside of you, you can actually – you don’t, you’re not ruled by it. You’re not just reacting on autopilot. So if you didn’t recognize that that feeling was popping up for you, maybe you would just say oh, I don’t really want to upload this. But once you can become aware of what’s going on, then you could say oh, that’s interesting, I’m feeling kind of scared right now. Hmm. Well maybe I’m just going to upload this anyways. And so there’s a lot of power in just recognizing and becoming better at recognizing fear. And so for me, meditation, making meditation a regular practice has actually been a huge benefit to my life. And this is one area in terms of really being able to manage fear and notice when it pops up in my life that meditation has really, really helped me, and I think it will absolutely help you as well.

And the third piece of advice I have for you is to take action anyways. Some people feel like the holy grail is this idea that we’re just going to get to a place where fear doesn’t exist, where it’s not something that we feel, it’s not something that we ever have to deal with. And I don’t know that that ever happens. I don’t feel like fear is something that ever goes away. But I do think that it’s something that you can learn to dance with as a person, right? So you can say okay, I’m actually feeling really afraid right now, and yet I’m still going to move forward. Or I’m going to do something that is a reflection of my values, right?

So maybe if you feel that fear when you’re about to upload your music to SoundCloud and you notice that you’re feeling that fear, you can say I’m just going to do it anyways because I know I want to do this. And so going back to this whole idea of meditation and mindfulness and really being able to notice fear, that’s a part of it. And then once you notice it you can actually say okay, well I’m just going to move forward anyways. And I think that this is the place that we all need to get to, because fear is not going to go away. It’s not just going to magically disappear. But you can take action in the midst of it, and you can move forward and do things even when you feel afraid.

And the last piece of advice I have for you is to reinterpret what fear actually means, and this one’s really cool. So a lot of people when they feel fear instantly feel like it’s a bad thing, right? They feel like something’s wrong and they have to run away, and that’s a very natural response to fear. But what if instead of feeling like fear was a bad thing, when you noticed it a little lightbulb went off in your head and you said hmm, I’m feeling afraid. I probably need to lean into this. This is something that I actually need to pay more attention to or actually move forward in.

And so rather than looking at fear as a bad thing, it’s actually an indication that you’re on the right track. Because all the really good stuff in life, all the stuff that really matters, the stuff that’s really going to take you closer to where you really want to be, typically that stuff is the stuff that you feel afraid about. It’s the bold risky stuff. The stuff that might not work. The stuff where you have to be vulnerable and share yourself with others. That’s all the stuff that really matters in life. And so instead of feeling like fear is a bad thing when you notice it happening, you can actually change your interpretation of fear and look at it as a sign post that you’re actually on the right path, that you’re moving towards something that is important, and that you actually need to keep going.

So I hope you found this video helpful. And if you want to dive deeper, I actually put together a free seven-day music making challenge. And this is really interesting, because it actually contains 7 specific exercises that are designed to take you out of your comfort zone as a music maker and help you conquer your fear. So if you want to take this free challenge, you can click the link in the description below or up there in the video and you’ll get started right now.

Now before you go, I want you to leave a comment below this video and let me know if you’re brave enough – where does fear show up in your music making process? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s start a discussion and actually talk about this stuff, because I think that’s an important part of it, is kind of removing the taboo around this whole fear thing. And if you guys can start to see that other people actually feel fear as well, then hopefully it’ll validate that whole idea of you’re not alone. So please share your experience below in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you, and I’ll try to reply to as many people as I can.

Thanks for watching, and you can check out more music making tips like these right here on my YouTube channel, or at BehindTheSpeakers.com.

About Jason Moss

Jason is an LA-based mixer and the founder of Behind The Speakers. He's a graduate of New York University's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. His how-to articles have been featured in leading industry publications by Berklee, TuneCore, SonicScoop, The Pro Audio Files, and Disc Makers.