What Do I Do With My Unfinished Projects? 11 Ways To Salvage Unfinished Beats
We’ve all been there. Just about any beatmaker has dozens of unfinished projects that never become full tracks. We all want to transform these half-baked sessions into full beats, but it feels challenging to do so.
Thankfully, we’ve compiled 11 actionable strategies to help you finish your songs. Whether you’re dealing with writer’s block or just plain uninspired, these methods are bound to jumpstart your creativity. Let’s get to work!
11 Ways To Finish Your Beats
Without further ado, here are 11 ways you can turn your 4 bar loops (or less) into finished songs ready for release. Some of these strategies will work better than others, depending on your workflow, so be sure to experiment and find what works best for you.
1. Pilot Your Productions On Social Media
One of the best ways to market your music and build up a fanbase is to consistently post on social media. Why not deepen your connections with your audience and crowd source some data simultaneously? Showcase one of your unfinished beats to see how they perform.
If your audience seems to respond to one session clip over another, you know which track to start pursuing! This can also be a great way to rope in your audience as you take a track from an unfinished beat to a polished, produced track. At the very least, showcasing your beats will give you something to share with your fans and might inspire some helpful, creative feedback.
2. Set Up A Beat Store
Suppose you don’t want to finish a beat for your own personal use. Instead of getting rid of your unfinished song entirely, set up a beat store! You can sell your tracks on sites like Beatstars and connect with other artists. Plenty of indie artists sell beats directly through their websites as well. It may take some work to create a profitable profile, but it gives you enough incentive to finish your tracks so you can move onto the next one.
3. Loop Parts and Add Variation
When in doubt, make it easy on yourself! Select a tried and true song structure like VERSE-CHORUS-VERSE-CHORUS. Sketch out the first half of the song, and then double it according to your chosen song structure.
Then, go back and add variation throughout your song with various transitions, switching up musical elements, or playing with the topline melodic structure. Building out a cliche structure may seem like the easy way to complete a song because it is. However, you can still transform an essentially looped beat into a great one with enough attention to detail. Keep it simple, stupid.
4. Pitch Them To Collaborators
Managing collaborations with other artists as a musician can be challenging. So often, collaboration songs are dead in the water before they start, simply because no one is brave enough to make the first move.
Save up snippets of your beats in a Google Drive or Dropbox folder and pitch them to other musicians. You never know – another artist might be able to transform your demo into a fully fleshed song by adding their dose of creativity to the mix.
5. Make A Challenge For Yourself and Stick To It
Too much freedom can be paralyzing. Creative constraints can be incredibly helpful for helping you finish your beats, so why not impose some on yourself? Challenge yourself to bounce out a complete track every three months, every month, or even every week.
Your tracks don’t necessarily have to be groundbreaking, the important thing is that you finish them. If you challenge yourself and stick to your set schedule, you’re bound to create something you love in time.
6. Take A Break and Set A Date
Sometimes, projects can really benefit from a bit of downtime so that you can come back with fresh ears. However, committing to coming back to your project is just as important as making the decision to step away.
If you have the beginnings of a beat but you find yourself stumped, mark a free day on your calendar when you plan to come back to it. Set a reminder on your phone and when the time comes, add at least one new element to your beat in progress before closing out your session.
7. Delete A Major Element To Spark Creativity
If you find yourself stumped, save your project into a new session. In this session, delete one of the major elements like the main drum pattern, bass line, or melody. Sometimes, freeing up that space is exactly what you need to interpret your beat in a different way.
This can feel oddly difficult as it’s challenging to throw away something you put so much time and effort into. Thankfully, having separate sessions can offer you enough security so that you can freely experiment with new ideas while preserving the original.
8. Seek Out a Sample Contest
One of the best ways to start building complete beats and connect with other musicians is to engage in remix and/or sample contests. These contents are usually totally free to enter and most importantly, provide artists with a couple of important items. You’ll be given a couple of free samples and a deadline embedded with social pressure.
This can be an incredible blessing for your beats, so it’s worth giving it a try. You could sign up for a site like Beat Collective and start with one of their amazing sample flip competitions.
9. Find An Accountability Partner
Having friends and colleagues in this crazy industry is super helpful. If you have any musician friends, ask them to keep you accountable for completing a beat by a set date. You can do the same for them. Soon, all you’ll have to do is watch the productivity flow.
If you don’t know any musicians, simply announce your plans via social media or on a music thread on a site like Reddit. Having your plans embodied in a texted plan might serve as the kick you need to finish a song.
10. Analyze a Reference Track
If you find yourself getting stuck, pull in a reference track that has a similar sound to your beat. You can analyze the different sections, and start to piece together how the original producer took a central idea and stretched it across an entire track. Apply these principles to your workflow until you’ve made an entire song.
11. Convert Your Project To New Samples
Not every unfinished beat will turn into a fully-fleshed-out song and that’s okay. However, don’t forget that you don’t have to necessarily throw out all of the hard work you put into building up your instrumentation and sound.
Repurpose your beat by resampling it into your next project. You can even convert your snippets of audio into a personalized sample back for future use. This way, you’re still building off of your sound for a future song even if you don’t complete this one.
Epilogue: You Don’t Always Have To Finish Your Beats
It’s always a good idea to try and finish your beats if you can. Even if you don’t end up professionally releasing a particular song, you’ll learn something in the process. You might just try out the idea that creates the mental space for your next banger.
However, it’s okay to throw in the towel every once in a while. Everyone, including your favorite producers, has lackluster ideas occasionally. It’s just a numbers game – if you keep working on your craft and finishing beats for the sake of it, you’re bound to create something you’re really proud of in no time at all.
All in all, making music can be a whole lot of fun, but it also requires a fair amount of tedious, unexciting work. Hopefully, these 11 strategies will bring you one step closer to completing your beats. Have fun rediscovering your long-lost sessions!