How Do I Know If A Song Is Done?

Hey guys,

if you have time, check it out. One of the most asked questions out there!

Have a great day!


Thanks for this Alexey. I just realized something else that ties in, I think. I have really fallen off the plan I made at New Years to start moving myself forward with composing tracks and getting them into libraries; I haven’t written anything in almost a month and a half. My day job and whatnot have gotten in the way and I’ve been exhausted and uninspired as I got myself away from my comfort zone in trying to write for libraries. But I think I’ve been too focused on doing one thing.

I had started to write some trailer style music, but I know that I’m not real good at that style and I’m more at home with the bigger classic Hollywood film score stuff, but there’s a lot that goes into those type of scores and you want them to be perfect, which really slows down your writing efficiency. But I got away from this style to focus on writing for libraries, as it doesn’t seem that what I do is real common in library music, at least not the one’s i’ve been looking into. The result was writers block.

Then this week, I went back and listened to a bunch of old Hollywood tracks from Erich Korngold especially, but also Max Steiner and John Williams to try and get myself back into the groove. I opened up my scoring software, and specifically a score file that is nothing but a lot of short melodic or motif ideas I’ve jotted down over the past few years, clicked the piano track and just started banging out some chords–anything to give me a starting point. In the process I ended up making a couple of mistakes; I played the wrong chord by hitting one wrong note, but by luck, this progression and these “mistakes” actually worked really well and within about ten minutes, I had myself 8 bars of completed music.

Now, while this music was more “classical” sounding and just another “idea” added to the file, I went back to beginning of the score, and hit the play button and just listened to all the little sketches, and then it dawned on me. There were some good ideas in there that could be developed but I’ve been making two mistakes.

The reasons I’ve been struggling, is one, I like writing music to visual media, but I’ve been writing specifically in a way that only really is to satisfy my artistic sense for what ever visual media I get inspired by. Second, when I think about actually writing something for a library, I focus too much on it needing to be a specific style and I then end up with a creative block and the ideas get shelved or trashed. I just realized though, this is the wrong line of thinking.

Listening to all of my little ideas that I’ve sketched out, what I should have been doing is not worrying too much about writing in any specific style or writing specifically to suit a music library, but just write. Write, and don’t worry about style or genre. Don’t worry if it’s one minute or ten. Don’t worry if it could be used on this library or that one. And don’t worry if it’s “perfect” or not. Just write. Write until it’s completed to the best of my abilities, save it and move on to the next one.

The point is, just write whatever comes to mind, save it, move on to something else, repeat this process and maybe check what you have after a month or two, THEN decide which style/genre they are and where you think they’d work, or even if they might not seem like it, send them in anyway–you never know. There are thousands of media productions out there and who are you to say what any one of them want for music. With my natural style, that Golden Age of Hollywood, sound, maybe there aren’t too many composers doing that and a library would love to get that into their list and I stand out from the pack.

Don’t worry about doing what everyone else is doing. Just write. Some music will be good, some bad, some will get used, some not so much—but this is not something to think about BEFORE you start writing; you can try and figure out where you need improving AFTER writing. Focus on what you do well NOW. Otherwise you’ll slow yourself down, getting stuck on the small details.

If you want to be even remotely successful doing library music, you have got to write, write, write. At least one track per week is what I’ve been told, but I’ve wasted so much time worrying about which style or genre to do and whether is completely satisfies my artistic sense. But that will come with time; I know. I’m getting there, to a point where I can just write something in a short time but it’s a style I intended from the start. Sure, have a plan when you write; know where you’re going, but don’t worry too much about the other details.

1 Like