Production & Music Industry

The quantity principle

Written by
Ryan Ferris
2 Mins
From Mozart to Disclosure - many great songwriters write hundreds of songs before they strike gold.

The quantity principle is a simple but powerful idea that I have come across so many times that it seems to be almost universal among great songwriters.  And that is produce, produce, produce.

From classical composers such as Mozart, to modern producers such as Disclosure, and everything in between (just check the back catalogue of nearly any famous artist) - they all have one thing in common.  They wrote a lot of songs. And a fair chunk of them recorded and released a lot of songs as well (with varying degrees of quality and success!).  

And the secret - the majority of the songs that they made weren’t great. And a good chunk of them were downright bad. 

And this is okay!

Writing regularly can clear up creative space to allow fresh ideas to come through.

A great metaphor for this is digging for gold.  The majority of what we find in the process is dirt - valuable dirt, as it helps us learn and progress, but still dirt.  No one wants dirt. But occasionally (and it can be as rare as 1/100 tracks or rarer) a gold nugget is found. And this is the process.

But how to write quickly? It's easy to get bogged down in the process.

Something that has happened to me more than once, is getting into the mindset of "this is going to be the best thing I have ever made".

But the problem is...

It's a trap! | Star Wars Memes Wiki | Fandom

I found that adding too much expectation to creative process is draining. It bogs me down, gets me out of the Flow State and into thinking mode.

A lot of creative process is a feeling of openness, of limitless potentiality. Creativity thrives on playfulness - we don't think music, we play it.

I've found approaching songwriting in this way to be hugely beneficial.

It goes something like this:

  • Write a bunch of demos without thinking about it too much.
  • Take space (1-2 weeks) from the tracks.
  • Listen to them with fresh ears and see how you feel
  • Develop tracks that resonate with you (this is where thinking can again be useful - but only after feeling the music)

Write write write. Take space from songs. Share them with trusted people who will be honest with you. Write some more. This will increase your chance of striking gold.

That’s the quantity principle baby.

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