Beat-Block. Why we get it, and how to beat it!

Beat block

I’m sure we’ve all experienced it at one time or another, and I believe everyone who pursues creative endeavours experiences creative blocks regularly, whether that be weekly, monthly, or daily.

Now for me, I experience some form of ‘beat block’ at least once a week, sometimes once every two weeks if i’m on a roll. In general I make around 5 – 10 beats every week, and no matter what eventually I will reach a point where I am (seemingly) out of ideas.

When I used to get creative blocks it would stress me out. Because I pride myself highly on being able to create music, and I consider myself a very creative person, when those ‘creative’ juices that bring me joy stop working, it’s a bit of a drainer to say the least. In the past I would sometimes try ‘force’ the music out of me (which doesn’t really work, at least for me), or i’d listen to a bunch of music trying to force my brain to come up with the next genius track idea.

This didn’t seem to work either.

After a while I realised that my tactics for getting rid of these creative blocks didn’t seem to be working, and i’d have to try a different approach. I started looking into what was causing my lack of creativeness, by studying my mindset both in ‘creative mode’ and in my creative ‘slumps’, and trying to figure out what was the difference between the two.

So first of all, let’s get into the causes of beat block.

Inspiration is psychological. It’s a mindset. No matter what you’re creating, physical, intellectual, musical, whatever, it comes from that thing between your ears. Now any form of art is highly creative, and relies heavily on ‘inspiration’. This means that no matter how much you try to logicalize your music, your ability to create is really going to depend on how ‘inspired’ you are at that particular time. It depends on your mindset and what you’re thinking when you’re looking for that perfect melody or chords progression to fit those drums.

So that being said, why can we be super-inspired one day, then the next it seems we have ZERO ideas. I’ve broken down some of the reasons i’ve identified when i’ve lost my inspiration, as well as ways i’ve tried to fix them.

First of all, look at your REASON for making music.

I’ve noticed a lot of the times when I seem to be lacking in ideas, it’s because the reason i’m sitting down to produce a track is far different from the reason that I’m making a track when i’m feeling inspired.

Specifically, when i’m feeling inspired i’m making music purely for the love and passion of creating. I want to make music because i’m in the moment, and i’m loving music at that particular point in time.

However, when i’m experiencing a ‘beat block’ ive noticed my focus to be considerably different. I might be making a track for money reasons. I might be making a track to reach a self-set beat-quota, which is putting pressure on me to create. Because of how largely I define myself as a creative musician, I put unecessary pressure on myself to create, and on top of that, create GREAT music. This puts me in a position where i’ll be comparing my music to others, or to my previous work, instead of just creating for enjoyment, which is what I should be doing.

So, i’ve found that everytime beat block occurs, i’m creating music for the wrong reasons. Music should be enjoyable, fun, and should be made from passion. Once we as musicians lose site of that and start making music for the wrong reasons, the inspiration stops coming.

So now that we’ve identified the REASON for beat block, how do we get rid of it?

Firstly, remember that you’re making music for enjoyment first! Even if you’re making a beat to ultimately sell for money, the cash should still be a secondary motivator.

The primary reason for producing music should be because you love it! Sometimes just reminding yourself of that fact will help take the pressure off yourself, and help you just enjoy the process.

Next, I like to listen to music that I haven’t heard before. This might mean exploring new artists and genres, and new styles of music that is unfamiliar to me. This often helps me with ideas that I may not of previously thought of.

You could also try listening back to your favourite albums. Albums that you love. This can help push you back into the mindset of ‘enjoying’ music, rather than focusing yourself to create or pushing your mind for ideas.

Note: Another great ‘inspiration generator’ are youtube videos. Watching videos of other inspiring musicians has helped me numerous times. Ryan Leslie is one of my favourites.

Another thing I like to do is try ‘practicing’ my music.

This means taking the focus off finishing an entire beat, and just focusing on ‘practicing’ and improving specific elements of my music.

For example I might create drum loops and practice creating more intricate patterns, improve my mixing skills and learn new plugins, practice my piano chords and progressions, pretty much anything related to my music production.

However the main point of this excersise is not only to improve your music, but to take the ‘pressure’ off of finishing a beat or track. A lot of the times I start off practicing I end up finishing a beat anyways, but I see that as a bonus.

Lastly, if nothings working and you’re still not getting any ideas, just stop. Focus on other things in your life. Go play some xbox, or watch some Office reruns (one of my favourite shows). Wait untill you get the urge to create again (and trust me, it will come) untill you decide to bang out a few more beats!

I hope that helped any of you who are going through beat blocks right now! As musicians these creative blocks will come up regularly, but the main thing is to remember that they always pass. If you just follow this article you should be able to get over them. The main idea is to take the pressure off yourself and gain sight of why you make music in the first place!

If any of you have your own techniques/ideas on battling beat block, i’d love to hear! Leave a comment below.

Did you enjoy this article?

Enter your email below to receive regular music production resources and tips and a free drum kit.

E-mail:
Share/Bookmark
Posted on by Stuart B in Articles, General

22 Responses to Beat-Block. Why we get it, and how to beat it!

  1. FreshtoDeaf

    I’m goin thru a beat-block right now, this helped a lot! Gonna try change my mindset to get out of it!

    • Stuart B

      Thanks man!

      Hope this helped. If worse comes to worse, just give yourself a break. I’m actually going through a little bit of an inspiration-jam so i’m taking a little break from music and i’ll come back to it tonight, or tomorrow if I have to.

      Main point is to do it for enjoyment first!

  2. F.W.

    MAAAN THIS ARTICLE IS A BIG HELP THANX!!!

    • Stuart B

      Glad to help man :) Hope it cured your beat block!

  3. Zade

    Wicked article this… interesting read!

    • Stuart B

      Thanks man! Appreciate it!

  4. Hengsha NZ

    This is the best article on Beat/Producer’s block that I have come across. No doubt I will be coming back to reread this again.
    Thanks heaps!

    • Stuart B

      Glad you like it man!!

  5. MizzHitZthaProducer

    Yeah, beat-block is a big killer for me. I notice I tend to get beat-block when I play in the same key or scale over and over.

    Lack of knowledge in the music theory is a big killer for me. Im working on that now. I know learning the piano will improve my beatmaking skills because no longer will I have to fool around on the keyboard for half an hour just to find a decent enough melody.

    • Stuart B

      Yeah I know what you mean man! I’m lucky because I learned piano from a young age. Although, what helped me out a lot was trying to learn chords and scales off songs I liked. Learnin the chord progressions, as well as improvising over the top of songs is a great way to learn how to come up with chords and melodies yourself!

      I’m planning on putting out a series on basic music theory, chords and scales, so make sure you check back in the future!

  6. OsMN

    Thnx man i know some of this stuff but as u said just reading it . it might remind you and get you in the perfect mind set ..for me That works

  7. Nightwing

    Thanks I’m going through it now and I’ve identified the beat quota as part of my beat block. Thanks for this helpful info.

  8. SiJamz NZ

    I found a method that sort of works is setting myself a challenge, i.e I am going to produce a new DnB track this weekend. I find if I tell that goal to someone else, it can help my creative juices to flow better.

  9. Alex Ricardo Music

    Great articles man! I enjoy reading them

  10. Pingback: How To Get Over A Beat Block - The Beat Biz

  11. Andres

    I have the huge problem on knowing where to start since I’m just starting to get into the production aspect of things

    • SiJamzNZ

      I just start with whatever aspect comes to my head first, be it a bass line, lead or chord progression. I’ll get that down, and ideas usually flow from that and I’ll end up sculpting a song from one small riff. Sometimes though, it’s getting that initial spark that is the problem.

  12. Henry Douillars

    That was the realest article ever! I also want to add that sometimes when practicing or creating one beat i often come up with dope melodies that doesn’t go with it. I will then immediately put the first one on pause and start a new project. That way you have a combo and the 2nd one usually end up being harder then the first. Thanks for sharing man.

  13. TJunioR

    I’m dealing with some SERIOUS producers block right now. I just recently started to put more time into the instrumentals I make and strive expand my craft. However, I’m going through a tough time right now and all I can do is write lyrics (I’m also a rapper). I want to make one more instrumental for this album I’m doing which is about the same thing I’m rapping about. I only made one for the album (I made it months ago before my depression) and was gonna leave it that way until I got another idea for a track on the album. Now I’m stuck in trying to produce this instrumental that I already got lyrics flowing through my head for. Should I just flip my process and write the song first and then produce the instrumental?

  14. Metaphor

    Thx for this article!

    My biggest “Block” seems to be the fact that I compare my own stuff to the “big boys”/professional artists out there. I really like the fact that you pointed out that the main reason why we all start making music is to ENJOY it and OURSELFS!!!

    My producer block went so far that I really questioned myself as an artist in general recently. Since I` ve been doing this (rapping and beatmkaing) for many years I stumbled on questions like:

    – Am I not goof enough for the “next level”?
    – Has my talent/skills reached it` s limit?
    – Do I not appreciate the music anymore like
    I used to when I started out first?

    I was really in a mindest like “just” getting back to become a “fan” and listener of music again and sell all my equipment…

    I am working on a collabo-album with a friend right now. We do all the beats, recording and mixing on our own. He is the one I kicked my first raps with more than 15 years ago and I was like “this album closes the circle” and maybe I should see this as my final project and stop making music after finishing that project…

    But: I am really scared that I will regret my decision when I get rid of all my equipment and will miss the rapping and beatmaking soon…

  15. Dillz

    thanks man three years later and you just saved my life from becoming meaningless again lol. THANKS

  16. Joe

    Been making my own for a Lil over a year now and sooo many of these days! Got it dead on, I usually keep trying to push through but with little success. I like where he said “just stop”.. really though that’s exactly what I do. Get lost in malcolm in the mid, and I start working on my song mixing or anything else. Been through it enough to know it will pass and then boom. You make a few of your best and newly-favoured classics. Nice article thanks alot!!!

Add a Comment