Latest and Not-so-greatest
Today I sent a cold email to someone who has 90k subscribers on YouTube, asking if they could maybe give me music production lessons. On the one hand, I don't expect a response, even at all. On the other hand, this person did put their (an?) email address in the description of a YouTube video so maybe they're open to being contacted. Maybe?
Anyways, at the bottom of the email, I linked my demo song website, songs.travisbriggs.com. I then of course visited this website and tried to imagine what the person would see or click on when they got there. One thing that popped into my head is that they might literally click on the newest song and listen for 5 seconds, thinking “This is probably Travis's latest and greatest song”.
That's when I started feeling mortified.
Right now the newest song on my demo website is a sloppy punk track called “Goodbyes” (link). If you listen to 5 seconds of it, you probably think, “Wow this guy is great at making awful noise, but I wouldn't call it music!”. It's certainly my latest track, but it's far from being my greatest.
Now there's a whole discussion around the difference between the demos on this site and the songs which I had made into my Danger Third Rail EP. Not only did I select my best material for the EP, but I meticulously re-recorded the parts. They also got professionally mixed and mastered. So I think those tracks in particular are going to sound the best out of the wide range of material I've published, and be the greatest. They're a far cry from being the latest though.
So at this point I'm thinking about progression over time. Am I getting better at making music? Not even a specific genre of music, not “Am I getting better at writing music?” or “Am I getting better at performing/mixing/mastering/whatever music?”. Basically, can you look at the musical artifacts I've created, the songs I've created, over time and see that yes, the quality is increasing?
I think that I can't honestly answer that question. Not because I'm afraid the answer might be no — though I am afraid of that! — but because the demo songs website is not really set up to produce that kind of an answer.
The fact is, my methodology and my ethos of creating music has shifted and evolved over the years, as you might well expect it to. I've gone from releasing songs once in a blue moon, to frantically releasing them once a week or once a day, back to producing songs maybe once a month. I've gone from not finishing projects and not saving the unfinished parts, to saving all the unfinished parts, to trying to finish things in one session even if it means sacrificing quality.
Really, I've decided that I believe in the 100:10:1 rule, where out of 100 songs, 10 will be good and 1 will be great, so it doesn't matter if the initial demo of a song sounds amazing or not. If there's a good idea there, I'll revisit it, re-record some of the parts, tweak the arrangement, send it to my drummer in the UK, and have it professionally mixed and mastered. If there's only a so-so idea there, well, at least I recorded a demo and a few people listened to it.
Honestly, I fully believe that I will need to write close to 500 songs before I can come up with another 5 song EP. I'm not sure I even have it in me to approach such a task. If you're listening to songs.travisbriggs.com, you're simply along for the process.
As always I'm Travis Briggs, of travisbriggs.com fame. If you'd like to comment on this post you can do so on Mastodon (@firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@audiodude) or send me an email at email@example.com