There is no improvement
I’ve made music for more than 10 years, and not once have I ever improved. I’ve also never failed, and I’ve never succeeded. This is the kind of sorcery that happens when you’re a magical music wizard rather than a music producer.
In my world, there are no measurable criteria for how good my music is. Mass appeal certainly can’t be one of them; I dislike most of what’s on the radio. The only proper one that comes to mind is how much I enjoy it. As I’ve written about before, I’ve been succesful from the very beginning, by simply enjoying my current abilities and playing around.
The mountain metaphor (bad)
I keep coming back to the concept of a playful outcome-free approach, as the key to my enjoyment of making music. The realisation of my insignificance has also contributed positively to my mood and mentality recently.
Just this morning, I had the realisation (empty assumption) that many people view music skills as a mountain to be climbed. Some people have an advantage in the form of innate talent; they start their ascent slightly higher on the mountain, but won’t necessarily climb. Some start out lower, but are more willing to climb, and some are even unable to climb.
Viewing music as a mountain to be climbed makes it harsh and competitive. Besides, what happens when you’ve made it to the top? Suddenly you can’t climb anymore, and there’s only one way to go. Even for the winners, this way of viewing it isn’t doing much good.
The playground metaphor (good)
The positive part of my morning realisation/assumption came in the form of viewing music as a playground. Firstly, everyone likes playgrounds. Babies, small kids and large kids. Unlike a mountain to be climbed, everyone can enjoy a playground to be explored.
Who is succeeding the most at the playground? The 12-year olds who can climb the largest trees? Well, the 3-year old ecstatically throwing sand around and pooping his diapers doesn’t give a shit. The girls are also perfectly content with their jumping rope. Give the right kid a twig and he’ll have the most fun of them all.
Whenever I’m making a piece of music, I’m having exactly as much fun as I did more than 10 years ago. Even more so with the making of mental movies to go with my music. The playground metaphor also implies the fact we all know that you can’t be at the playground 24/7.
Summary: Don’t be at a fierce mountain climbing competition; be at the playground.