Everything is an investment; your time, your money, your energy. Everything has an opportunity cost, in that doing one thing prevents you from doing another thing. If I go food shopping at 8:00, I can’t host a recording session at 8:00. If I have $7 and I buy a burger, the cost of the burger is not $7. The cost of the burger is everything I could have bought with that $7.
Let’s take the idea of opportunity cost and flip it. Lets turn it into opportunity reward. Let’s not examine the cost of every action, but the reward from these actions. This is a quick hack to get out of “scared money” mindset. If you’ve got millions, you’re not worrying about the price of a burger. If you’re a dozennaire, you’re thinking about everything in terms of its cost.
What happens when we think of the value of things instead? The value of picking up a new pair of speakers. The value of putting in the work to write fantastic songs. The value of betting on yourself, and showing up prepared.
If you’re walking into the studio with no lines written, expecting to pull something out of your ass last minute, you’re not betting on yourself. You’re betting on your engineer.
This becomes a problem when you go to the studio with a bunch of people. No one wants to watch you fumble over your words, and pick out random phrases, gauging the room to see how people react to them. Do you think Jay Z ever did that? Kanye? Eminem? Beyonce? Hell no. You can bet all your money on the fact that each and every one of these artists walks in to the studio with either a song in mind, lyrics written, or the intent to write and vibe while other people are laying their parts down.
Now, I’m not hating on creative experimentation. I think it’s part of the game, and it’s also extremely necessary, but there’s a time and a place for it. That time and a place is in your own home, on your own time.
That being said, if you’re paying your engineer, you’ve got every right to sit there, getting take after take down, getting your ideas down. But is that really what you want to do? Couldn’t you do that on your own, without paying an hourly rate? What exactly are you paying your engineer for at this point?
Here’s my advice for anyone struggling with this kind of situation, and please understand I’m not hating! People have strengths in different areas, and that’s something to rejoice, especially in today’s inter-connected lifestyles we live. If you’re writing your lyrics four words at a time in the studio while you’re in front of the mic, this is for you.
- Hire a ghost writer- Drake does it. Everyone does it. There’s a whole profession built around writing lyrics for other people. They’re sometimes cheap, and you can modify them as needed! Check out some freelance websites like Fiver or Upwork, and hire a great writer! Or just find a passionate friend who doesn’t like to rap, but is happy to help you write your stuff. Just make sure you’re both on the same page about song credit. You should be able to pay them some bills, because they’re going to save you TONS of time in the studio, where time is money.
- Write bars every day- When you wake up, open up your phone’s notepad, and write a quick 8-16 bars. While you’re waiting for your toast to pop from the toaster, write another 4. Stuck in line at Market Basket? That’s another 8 bars. If you’re showing up to the studio with nothing written, you’re not doing your homework, and everyone knows. Everyone knows that you showed up to baseball practice without a glove.
- Use a formula- When all else fails, there’s a hack for writing songs that is kind of the black magic of the artistic world. We know how songs are structurally arranged, and because of this, we can reverse engineer what it is to be a song. Songs rhyme, they have a certain flow to them, and they tell a story (ideally). So what if we start with the rhymes and the story?…
Introducing “The Rhymezone Hack” for writing songs. I’m sure this is someone else’s method as well, but I came up with it on my own, and when people get stuck in the studio, it’s served as an instant breakthrough for them. The hack goes a little something like this.
Step 0: Go to Rhymezone.com
Step 1: Pick a word, any word! Preferably one that you just generally like the sound of. Like “terse”.
Step 2: Type that word into Rhymezone and reap instant rewards. Behold! A ton of words that rhyme with “terse”!
Step 3: Pick 8-12 words from the Rhymezone list that you also like the sound of and write them down (on the right side of the page will make it easier).
Step 4: Fill in the blanks. Once you see the end goal, it makes it very easy to create a story behind the words.
Try to hit me with a curse
Then you end up in a hearse
Sucks to have your bubble burst
But when I spit I always keep it terse
Of course, the depth and creativity of these four lines is pretty lack-luster, but you get the idea. This took me about 20 seconds, and it seems pretty creative. Burst and curse aren’t really words I would default to, but I found them on Rhymezone, they’re not super random, and they fit the scene nicely. The possibilities with this technique are endless! If you’re having trouble thinking of new ideas, you keep defaulting to old lines you wrote a year ago, or you just don’t really have anything to talk about, this is a quick fix.
To wrap things up, remember: bet on yourself. Don’t count on someone else to make your art for you. The opportunity reward is infinite! If you bet on yourself, you become more valuable, and by becoming more valuable, a growing demand for your time will begin. You’ll be invited to more events, you’ll be able to talk to higher status individuals, and you’ll be confident in yourself, and you’ll grow and develop in a way that directly benefits you.
For all you Pokemon fans out there — everyone knows that a Pokemon you trained at the Day Care Center won’t be as strong as one you trained yourself in the wild. Train your Pokemon yourself so that you can depend on them when you need them. Train your skills so that they’re sharp when you need them.