I don't believe in "beat block".
You know, that feeling you experience when you're in front of your computer and you can't seem to create anything worthwhile. You start a melody, or a drum pattern, or lay down some 808 bass notes but they all sound like trash.
We all go through it. It doesn't make you any less of a good music producer and it certainly doesn't mean that you suck.
The first thing we need to do is identify WHY we experience this dreaded "beat block" (aka creativity killer) and what is the root cause.
I've compiled a list of "things that may cause beat block" based on my own experience and thousands of one on one conversations with music producers from all walks of life:
Are you afraid that the music you're about to make is going to suck? Are you scared that the people in the room or people that hear your beat will think it's trash? Feeling paranoid that the snare drum you're using is too generic and people might think you suck? Or, maybe the melody you're creating is too "simple" and doesn't challenge you enough? These are all valid questions to ask and they are all valid emotions. The fear of being judged is definitely a creativity killer and it's one of our worst enemies.
You might be sick and tired of creating the same "type beat" over and over and over again. There's a lack of excitement in what you are creating. Using the same sounds over and over could feel super repetitive.
3. Too Many Distractions
Take a look around your studio/work space. Is your environment conducive to allowing you to create freely with no distractions? Do you keep your phone next to you while you make beats? How often do you pick up your phone to check instagram and mindlessly swipe WHILE you're creating a beat? Is it too bright in the room? Too dark? Too many people in the room? Maybe you're thinking about something else and it's stressing you out.
4. Lack Of Ideas
If you decide to start with a melody loop, do you tend to stay in one "key" and feel limited to the types of chord progressions to create? If you decide to start with a drum pattern, do you tend to run out of various pattern ideas? Maybe you don't even know where to start. It's like trying to light a fire with damp wood on a windy day. Nothing seems to work and nothing creative is coming to you.
There are so many triggers to stress. Mental stress can and will manifest to physical stress if it's intense enough. When you're stressed out it's extremely difficult to be creative. Creating is probably the last thing you feel like doing.
I can keep going and probably list 5 more but for the sake of time (I'm supposed to be writing a new blog post every single day for 1 year straight so maybe I'll save it for another day lol) let's figure out how to solve these issues.
If you are feeling (or have felt) any (or ALL) of these "beat blockers", then keep reading because I think I've got some solutions for you.
Here we go.....
SOLUTION #1: Treat Everything Like An Experiment
That's right. It's your little secret. No one has to know. There is no extra brownie points. You're on the basketball court and there's no one in the crowd. Just you and the ball and the rim. Go crazy. Be a kid again. Explore. There are no rules. There is no right or wrong because there really isn't. Who made up these rules anyway? Some a**hole who doesn't know what they're talking about! Stretch your imagination to lengths you've never explored. Go with a crazy BPM and start with hi-hats. Do things you wouldn't normally do. Challenge your brain to create new neurological pathways and new habits (Yes, that's actually what happens when you challenge yourself. Your brain physically becomes bigger!). Don't be afraid. No one is watching or listening.
SOLUTION #2: Get Some New Sounds
You need to level up with some new sounds. Get yourself some drum kits. Start using more melody loops from other music producers. Embrace the idea of collaborating and sharing creativity with other people. I will shamelessly plug that my 25GB bundle is literally the beat block killer, so start with that. Then go to Kitsi Marketplace to get yourself some quality drum kits and melody loops created by ACTUAL MUSIC PRODUCERS. Google search your favorite creators and get their sound packs. Invest some $$$ into new VSTs and instruments. The amount of resources and tools are endless. Take full advantage.
SOLUTION #3: Clean Up Your Room
And do the laundry while you're at it!!!!! JK. I'm not your mom. But, yeah no cap clean up your studio. No one enjoys a messy environment. Treat your workspace like your career. Put love, time and energy into it. I know it sounds silly to most people but doing this will create a huge impact to your productivity. Start by getting rid of clutter and things you don't want or need. It's not even really about having less stuff. It's about having the right stuff. If you have junk in a corner that you haven't seen in over a year (and forgot it was even there) you probably don't need it. Throw that sh** away.
SOLUTION #4: Practice Playing An Instrument
If you already play a little bit of piano or guitar, set some time to practice more. Close the DAW and start playing freely. There's tutorial videos, play along videos, classes and so much more. Choose a method and go with it. Allocate 15-30 minutes (or more) every day to just play your instrument. Get your muscle memory going. Get those neurological connections to connect! It's all about growing your brain. That's actually what the name of this blog post should be. How to make your brain bigger.
SOLUTION #5: Focus On Self Care
You don't have to make a million beats per month to feel like you're a great producer. It's not about volume. It's about working smarter, not harder. Taking breaks often is KEY. Treat yourself with love. Prioritize sleep. It's ok to sleep 7-8 hours, I promise you're not missing out on anything. Most people are watching Netflix or wasting time anyway. When was the last time you had a massage? Save some $$$ so you can finally book one. Go out and do physical activities that you love. Join clubs and communities. Be social. Or, do some alone time and hit the steam room and spa. Doing what you can to de-stress your life is an incredible investment to your well being, personal life AND will help you perform and create at a much higher level.
These are some of the main "beat block" killers that come up more often than not. It's time to make some real changes to start 2022 on a high note.
I truly hope this helps and that you can apply some (or all) of these tips to your life.
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.