What’s holding you back?

What’s holding you back?

What’s your limiting factor? Your limiting factor is the single thing that’s in your way – the thing that’s stopping you from progressing and developing your skills.

Chances are, you know what this is. In most cases, it’s not what’s spoken about most (tools). It’s a great time to be a musician or an engineer – tools are more affordable and accessible than ever. More likely, your limiting factor might be one (or some) of these:

  • Time – This one’s easy to identify. You probably find yourself muttering to yourself ‘If only I had more time’. Or maybe ‘If only less of this “life” stuff got in the way’. Or ‘If only I didn’t have to sleep’.
  • Discipline – The is the alternative to time, for those people who have lots of time but still can’t seem to get much work done (measured in finished projects!). You’ll recognise this in yourself if you spend more time fooling about than you do actually making progress on musical projects.
  • Workflow / physical space – Do you have to work in a cramped studio? Or maybe your workspace is actually shared (not a dedicated music-making space)? Bedroom studios are prime offenders here. Worse are situations where you have to actually unpack or set up gear at the start of each session and pack it up when you’re done for the day.
  • Interesting musical influences – You’ll know this is a problem if you keep coming up with the same tired clichés in your music. Take a look at the last few albums you bought. If they’re all loosely in the same genre, you should think about branching out.

You get the picture. Tools are easy to get right (or at least adequate), but it’s what a lot of people talk about the most. Try to move beyond the talk and take a good hard look at your work environment, your workflow and practices. Be honest with yourself. Chances are, buying another compressor or reverb isn’t going to help you finish that project earlier or improve the quality of your output. If you’re serious about your music, you might be better served by spending some time organising your studio space, or listening to fresh music, or simply spending more time working (and less time watching TV, or browsing forums, or whatever your particular timewaster is).

Another way of looking at it is this: If you have to ask someone else whether your tools are adequate, your tools are not your limiting factor. If you can’t tell what’s wrong with them, then they’re not holding you back.

The better you are at identifying your limiting factor, the better you’ll be able to push past it and make better music.


    • Ferato
    • May 10th, 2010

    Thanks man. Your tutorials are really helping me, even though this isnt really a tutorial it’s a great advice and i think people need those.

    • Nigel Nason
    • May 10th, 2010

    ‘If only I didn’t have to sleep’, probably my biggest complaint in life :)

    • Ohso
    • May 11th, 2010

    I think you missed one, motivation.

    What do you do when you TOTALLY lost the motivation that you have back in the day?

    PS: Your blog is great.

  1. @Ohso

    If you’ve lost motivation, you need to get excited by music again. I’d advise seeing some good live acts – especially in genres that you’re not familiar with. Live jazz can be mind-blowing. World music can be ear-opening. Rock music can be invigorating. Ask friends for recommendations.

    You might also want to read my previous blog post:



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