This is an excerpt of the book Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With. If you would like to download an excerpt or buy a copy you can do so here.

For nearly two decades, I've spent about three hundred days a year helping musicians fulfill their creative vision. I was lucky enough to get into the music business during the last days of big budget analog tape recording as the business turned to the early days of scrappy Pro Tools DIY recording, allowing me to learn lessons from both worlds. I've had the chance to work with some of the greatest minds in music on down to the most novice musicians. Sadly, this means I've also watched countless musicians struggle through many unneeded fights and existential crises caused by creative frustration. Whether it's not knowing how to get the best out of a composition, harboring a toxic environment that creates a vacuum of ideas or not knowing what order to work in to get the best results, I’ve seen it all. I’m compelled to rid musicians of these unnecessary struggles, and it gave me an urgency to get this book out into the world.

When I finished my last book, Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business ― a 700+ page exploration of how musicians promote their music ― the most dismissive comment I received was: "All you need to do is make great music and it'll promote itself.” While there's no better marketing tool than great music, this oversimplifies a vast landscape that's hard to navigate, where you still need a deep pool of knowledge to get through once people like your music. Conversely, even if a musician did a great job promoting their music and it wasn’t that good, it would still fail since doing great advertising for a bad product is the fastest way to give it a horrible reputation. Since I agree that great music is the best marketing tool for itself, I figured the next book I should write is about how you make great music.

Writing Get More Fans was some of the most fulfilling work I've ever done. Hearing from thousands of readers on how it helped them fulfill their dreams filled me with a joy far greater than helping a single band make a successful record. This time around, I wanted to assemble a book that could do the same for musicians looking to make great music. I've seen musicians show ambition towards getting the most out of their creative vision and subsequently fail by ignoring key practices that get the most out of their work. It pains me to see creators being tortured by their art, so I hope anyone who reads this book will be happier with the songs they make as well as any other creative work they do.

My passion to rid people of their creative frustration stems from knowing it in my own life. I was a depressed, even suicidal teenager, experiencing the frustration of creative hurdles that would send me into depression, along with the extreme happiness I felt when I could overcome them. I had no map of how to get around these blocks to know that this struggle was normal. As I got older, I learned how to get past these hurdles to become the extremely happy person I am today. I hope this book helps to rid the world of the misery I went through as a teenager by giving a better idea of how to get over the creative hurdles you experience throughout your growth as a creator.

During those teen years experimenting with recording equipment, I attracted the notice of America’s largest and most esteemed freeform radio station, WFMU. I stayed there for nearly a decade working with groups such as The Magnetic Fields, The Sea and Cake, Spoon and countless other creative musicians making the most interesting music of the day. This job gave me the daily experience of speaking with many great minds in up-and-coming groups that would eventually go on to influence millions of musicians. It also exposed me to the biggest music nerds around who would play me the great minds of underground music such as Can, Neu, Steve Reich and much more at a young age.

As I entered my twenties, I experienced the defeat of trying to make music on a computer that could occasionally record four tracks at a time, clunky Akai samplers and early MIDI synthesizers. As bands other than my own hired me to produce their records, I got to work in various NYC studios where I began to learn how to work this complicated equipment and express myself. I then took a job at Alan Douches' West West Side Music, the top mastering studio for indie labels in America for the past three decades. Every day I got to talk with music business veterans who were responsible for running the careers of the biggest indie musicians out there. I got to see their process while picking their brains about music. Getting to be in the same room as many of the most respected brains in music allowed me to become hyper-aware of the thoughts that go into making great music. Being able to converse with a wide variety of artists as they're making the final decisions of their creative works while they’re fresh in their head taught me invaluable lessons about the consideration that goes into crafting classic albums.

Over this time, I've had a hand in the production, engineering, mixing and mastering of well over 1,000 records. I've been lucky enough to sit in the room with legends like Joey & Dee Dee Ramone, Stephen Merritt, John McEntire, Robert Smith and Darryl McDaniels (DMC. This fortune has also allowed me to work on records as a producer, engineer, mixer or mastering engineer for groups such as Animal Collective, "Weird Al” Yankovic, Brand New, The Misfits, The Menzingers, Bad Books, NOFX, Dalek, Northstar and Lifetime. I got to work with producer Steve Evetts, making records with Say Anything, Saves The Day, Senses Fail and The Dillinger Escape Plan. I traveled the world with producer Ross Robinson to work on records with The Cure, Limp Bizkit and Chase Pagan.

On the business side, I've been able to see the creative breakdowns from the perspective of those who need artists to make money. I've been part of record labels such as Go Kart, Lost Tape Collective and Drug Front Records. I managed the groups Man Overboard and Transit, who signed to one of the largest indie labels in the world, Rise Records. I co-founded a service called Noise Creators, which connects musicians with the best producers in music. I also teach courses on recording music for the amazing service CreativeLive.

I’ve been lucky enough to see the creative process from countless angles and hope you enjoy what I’ve learned. I'm fortunate to keep meeting amazing musicians who I make great music with each day. Along the way, I found countless correlations between the research I did for this book and what I've witnessed in my work. As I learned these lessons, I found myself doing the most creative work I've ever done and am extremely thankful for the time I put in learning it all.

This is an excerpt of the book Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With. If you would like to download an excerpt or buy a copy you can do so here.