Updated: Jan 11
Just Get Started
If my time at University doing music production taught me anything, it was the mentality of those who were productive and those who were just dreamers. Unfortunately, over 90% of the students there were either dreamers or worse, were just there because they thought it would be easy. I definitely fitted into the dreamer category at the time and, although my knowlege of the subject was better than most, I was not productive at writing music during my 3 years there.
So what was the thing that made that 10% of students either write or engineer so many tracks throughout that time? Focus on the right things! Whereas the majority of us were tinkering with effects plugins, virtual instruments and different sequencers, they used what they had and focused on improving their skills every day. Probably the best example I can think of was one chap who every week would play us a new track he had made and these sounded better and better every time. Whilst we were all tinkering with the latest thing, he used the all in one package Reason to make his music. Even when Version 2.0 came out, then 2.5 and 3.0 by the time we left University, he stoically stuck to version 1.0 consistently writing and improving his skills.
This was pre Youtube days and the internet was not what it is today. It's even easier to get distracted by a shiny new piece of hardware or the latest software plugin and not focus on the important things.
The Solution: How To Become Productive
There are several things you can do here, but I would say the most important is to start with the goal in mind. If you sit down and say "I am going to write 10 tracks for an Asset store that are going to be in the style of SNES RPG music," you are going to be in much better shape than the 90% who think "I am going to try out this new plugin today and see what comes out." As soon as you have the goal in mind you can then work backwards from the goal and work out exactly what you need to do. In this example you could firstly; listen to several SNES RPG soundtracks and work out the chords and instruments; you could then find the sounds that closely match what you have heard; and then you could just get started and write those 10 tracks!
If you are an absolute beginner then restricting your options is going to be of great help. Like my friend at University, get something simple with good sounds (Garageband would be the obvious choice these days), watch tutorials and start making some music! I find restricting what I can use on a project even these days helps alot during the writing phase and I do this by making templates which have the basic instrumentation in it; more on this in another post!
If you are a beginner I will make structured courses in the future but, for now, here is my playlist on making game music with Garageband on Youtube:
So Much More I Could Write
I try to keep these posts concise and to the point, but this may require a follow up in the future. The main take away here is to concentrate on learning to compose, orchestrate and mix your music, not just to be a tinkerer like the majority. Having a plan and setting goals is going to be a big help, but also not getting sucked down the rabbit hole of new stuff (until you actually are getting paid and need them) is where you should start and will put you ahead of the crowd.