Last night I drove for 3 hours on my way back home from winter vacation and I did some reflecting. I thought to myself "What makes me different than everyone else? Why am I successful? What am I doing differently to be able to achieve what I've been able to achieve?"
I've been making beats for a long time. This year (2022) will make the 20 year mark. Over 5 Billion streams worldwide, 10 Grammy Nominations, 2 Grammy WINS, over 50 platinum records sold and a hell of a lot of hard work and sacrifice. It's weird to even type that or say it out loud. I feel like I'm just starting out to be honest.
During my drive I retraced my steps in the past 20 years. I tried to think hard about what helped to push me the most. It ultimately came down to one thing: PRODUCTIVITY. I came up with 4 tips on what I managed to do differently to set myself apart from other people. I believe these practices ultimately played a role in my success as a music producer and I would like to share them with you:
1. Pursue things that are fun
Joy is the key. When you find joy in something, you tend to keep doing it over and over. You make time for it. You don't let small things get in the way of you creating time to do it. You don't procrastinate because you're getting an immediate reward of satisfaction and joy. Because of this power, you can spend a lot of time doing it with ease. If you spend a lot of time doing it, you can become really good at it. You're also more willing to continue to do it for many months or years. The result? You actually become pretty good at the thing you find joy in doing. Being good at this "thing" will provide value somewhere for something or someone in the future.
2. Focus on small tasks only
Every grand idea or achievement is the sum total of MANY small actions/tasks done in repetition, over time. Pay attention to ONLY what's directly in front of you. Hyper-focus on that small task that takes 1-5 minutes to achieve. Studies show that 80% of people finish what they started after only about 5 minutes. The key is to START. Don't overwhelm yourself with all of the different moving parts. Start small and release your worries. Let your current small task dictate what to do during the next 5 minutes after this one. It's like laying down bricks. One brick at a time. Patience and focus. If you're confused or unsure what to do next, use Youtube and Google to research on whatever it is you are trying to figure out (which brings us to our next point......).
3. Be self-sufficient
Try things. Don't be afraid. There is no such thing as perfect. Everything is hard until it isn't. If you don't know how to do something (or never tried doing it) it will be "hard". If there is a task you are trying to accomplish, do some research on it and then DIVE IN. It's an experiment, so don't feel so pressured to think you have to be perfect. No one is judging you. It's your little secret. Playing basketball is technically hard. But for Lebron James (for example) it isn't so hard. Why? Because he's played the game for many years and is a trained professional (remember bullet point #1?). I can guarantee that Lebron's FIRST shot or first dribble was difficult. It became easy over time. He took that first shot and never looked back.
4. Don't wait around
If you have a feeling of excitement, or an idea, or something that you really want to accomplish, the worst thing you can do is wait. Don't wait. Let the excitement fuel your curiosity and drive your physical and mental being to take action immediately. Find 3 people you admire in that particular industry (or whatever it is you want to pursue) and read their books. Watch their interviews. Search them on Youtube. Consume. Learn. Then choose a day to take that FIRST ACTIONABLE STEP. Is there someone you know who you think can give you advice on starting this new idea? Text them now. Do you need tools or equipment to start your new idea? Buy them. If you don't have enough $$$, set a goal for yourself to put some money on the side to save for the investment. The most important thing for you to do is take action NOW. The longer you wait, the more dis-interested or excited you will become. If you wait long enough, your amazing (potentially life-changing) idea could be gone forever.
Whatever it is you are pursuing right now, just know that you have everything right in front of you to get the ball rolling. We are blessed with technology and resources today that we never used to have. Take advantage of this and you will be ahead of the curve.
Ramon "!llmind" Ibanga Jr. is a 2x Grammy Winning/10x Grammy Nominated multi-platinum music producer who's worked with artists such as Kanye West, J Cole, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce & Jay-Z, Future, Lil Uzi Vert, Romeo Santos, Lin Manuel Miranda (Hamilton + Moana) 2 Chainz & many more. He is the founder of "Blap-Kits" and "BidPacks NFTs", a series of "beat-making" tools available for music producers which eventually helped pioneer the now multi-million dollar per year "drum kit & sound pack" industry. As a consistent advocate and voice in the music production world, his weekly Spotify podcast "Illmind Put The Loop On" boasts a die-hard music producer driven following, including industry special guests such as Boi-1da, Murda Beatz, Ryan Leslie, Russ, Brian Michael Cox and many more. He is also known for traveling to various cities, bringing together up-coming music creators in "secret studio locations" to network, vibe, play music & engage in their creative community.