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52 Fantastic Ways to Fire Up Your Musical Inspiration

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Musical Inspiration: Is It Even Real?

OK.  I'm no fan of the whole concept of musical inspiration.  Not as something that "happens" to you at least.

Sure, inspiration exists. Inspiration however comes when you work. The key is that you start the work first. Inspiration follows.

That said, there are times when you might find yourself jaded or tired with your creative work.  There are things you can do at these times to kick-start your creativity.  You also have other things that lead to more creativity in the long run, when practiced as habits.

Below you'll find 52 techniques, tips or insights you can use as a music producer to sharpen your ability to get into a state of flow in the studio and keep working on a consistent basis...

1. Just Start!

Talk doesn't cook any rice!  The old Chinese saying contains a hard truth.

You can sit around all day thinking about producing new music or you can just get right into it.  You can probably imagine which option is most likely to produce new music.

So, sometimes just getting started is enough to get the creative juices gushing again.  Stop the thinking and just do it!

Person listening to new music.

2. Listen to New Music

New music, especially great music,  can kick-start your neurons into action.  Find a good playlist for new music in your genre and listen to that.  Or, try out genres you don't know.  Take some notes.  Or, just listen.  After a while you may just want to make something new so bad that you have no choice but to hit the studio and produce. 

3. Watch an Epic Film

A good story in the form of a well-produced film can work wonders for inspiration.  Use this to your advantage by opening up your DAW right after you've watched the movie and the emotion is still kicking about inside you.

Channel it right into your musical inspiration and produce like a beast until you've captured it!

4. Meditate

Meditation may or may not help straight away.  The real inspiration however comes when you've made it a daily habit and you've stuck to it for a while.

The daily break you take just to do and think nothing is at the very least a good break away from the problem-solving mind-state,  a state which is the exact opposite of the playful state of creativity.

So, get Zen with it!

5. Visit a Gallery or Museum

Great art has the ability to spark creativity in us.  So, if you're lucky enough to live in a city with good museums and art galleries then you should use this fact to fan the flames of your own musical inspiration.

6. Set a Deadline

It's easy to lose a sense of urgency when you produce your own music.  Side-step this tendency with the use of strict deadlines.  With strict I mean it's a final cut-off. No ifs or buts.  You reach the deadline, you stop and it's done.

It's amazing how much you can get done when you know you have no other option!

7. Take a Walk

Get out in the streets or hit the park.  Oh, and keep your phone or a notepad handy because some of the best ideas come when your feet are moving!

8. Go to a Show

A night out to see a new act can remind you why you're in this game of music production.  It's also a great way to get out of your own bubble in the studio and re-ignite your passion for production.

Image of a Festival Crowd

9. Do a Festival

A weekend at a festival has the same effect of seeing a good show but with more acts and therefore more variety which leads to greater chances of finding musical inspiration.

10. Create a Mood Board

Set up a Pinterest account and use a secret board to gather images that provoke or invoke musical inspiration for your next track, EP or album.  This is great way to get in the mood for some spectacular studio sessions!

11. Write Down 20 Song Ideas Every Day

Force yourself to write a list of 20 ideas for songs when you drink your first coffee in the morning.  This practice will get the gears of musical inspiration spinning within a week or two.  Keep at it!

12. Set Some Goals

I'll finish a new track every week for 5 weeks.  I'll finish an EP in 2 weeks.  Goals work very well for many producers and have the added benefit of a built-in deadline.  Create a basic plan of action for your goal and then get to work.

Image of Incense

13. Use Rituals

Think of it a bit like an NLP hook and trigger.  Devise a little ritual you can do every time you start a work session in the studio.  Your brain will start to associate the ritual with playtime and soon you'll find it easier to get into the flow state in the studio.  Light a joss stick of incense.  Do a little dance.  Maybe do some simple stretches.  What you do doesn't matter as much as the gesture of doing it.

14. Keep a Journal

It's a great way to empty your head and make room for musical inspiration to visit. It's also a great way to record your ideas, dreams and concerns in a safe place for future reference.  Make a time every day for writing.  Mornings seem to work best for many creatives like me and you.

15. Listen to Your Finished Tracks

Consider this to be a bit like musical self-reflection.  You may want to improve or take a new direction completely.

Either way, new musical inspiration may just follow!

16. Revisit Unfinished Tracks

A long break from an old track can spark quick inspiration when you hear it again.  The ideas for improvement just seem to pop-out instantly on the first listen-through.  Easy!

17. Set an "Impossible" Challenge

Can you create a finished track in 1 hour?  How about a full-length album in a week?  You won't know unless you try.

Push the limits of your ability and see what happens.

18. Take a Shower

Just be ready to jump out and head to your home studio half-wet in a towel.  Great ideas seem to like to come around when you least expect it.  Expect them!

19. Read a Biography

It can be a musician or producer's bio or not.  The life and times of a great human has the ability to make you reconsider your own life and what you want to achieve.  It can, in other words, be a nice kick in the rear-end to get you going in the studio.

20. Think Ahead

Imagine your life 5 to 10 years from now.  Where do you want to be?  What don't you want to regret? What's the list of achievements you want under the belt by then?

It's amazing how some higher-level reflection can get the musical inspiration flowing.

21. Self-Impose Limitations

Try to make a track with one sample.  Limit yourself to one synth.  Only allow yourself to use 8 tracks in your DAW.

You get the idea:

Limitations breed creativity just like necessity is the mother of invention.

Travel image with van in the desert

22. Travel

A visit to another town or country can create the contrast you need to get out of a creative rut.

Of course this isn't an option you can do all the time but if you can then do.

23. Rip Off a Track

Choose a track you like and try to recreate it. You won't be able to perfectly.  Sometimes you'll come up with something different because you took a detour while trying to recreate the track.  Congratulations you've tricked yourself into musical inspiration by not looking for it!

24. Just Jam

The pressure of wanting to create a new track can sometimes stunt creativity.

So, decide to just jam a bit for fun.  No pressure!  Take 90 minutes and get into jamming it for it's own sake.

25. Get Oblique

And with this I mean of course that you use Oblique Strategies by Brian Eno.  This is a great way to introduce the power of the random into your world of routine stultified musical habits.

The strategies are available in physical card form but there are also sites available that offer a digital version.

26.  Think of a Loved One

It may be a life-long friend. It may be your mom.  It may be your girlfriend.  It could even be a pet.

What would you produce if you had to put your love for them into music? Instant musical inspiration!

Street art of man screaming

27. Conjure Up Your Hate

Not all musical inspiration comes in the form of fluffy bunnies or rainbow-maned unicorns. Sometimes you have to get a bit angry!  Think of someone or something you hate and then channel it into a new track.

Now, you may not be the hateful type.  Fine. In that case, change it to something that irritates you.  All you want is the impetus for a new track idea.  Let them have a piece of your mind and make some money from it on Spotify. ;-)

28. Get Up With the Birds

Now,  I know many producers like me are night-owls.  Be that as it may,  it sometimes works wonders to rise early, see the sun rise and use your fresh brain and a cup of coffee to get started on a new track. 

29. Stay Up Late

If you're an early bird then you may not realize how great it is to work on your music when everyone is asleep.

In this case you may want to stay up past your usual bedtime every now and then and spend that time in the studio.

30. Learn to Play Again

Musical inspiration comes in a playful state.  Kids have an amazing ability to play whenever and wherever. Try to remember what that was like and cultivate a kid-like state of playfulness in your studio.

31. Cut Distractions

The A.D.D. mind-state of instant gratification caused by social media and notifications makes for less musical inspiration.  Make your creative time sacred.  Do whatever you need to do to cut out distractions.  Airplane mode your phone.  Disconnect your internet.  Warn your family and friends. Get a red light for your studio door. ;-)

32. Make Notes

The habit of taking notes is something we associate with reporters, journalists and writers.  It's a pretty good habit to help spark musical inspiration though.

So, keep a notebook handy and note anything that catches your interest in it.  Browse through your notes when you're feeling stuck in the studio.

33. Steal Like an Artist

Use a chord progression, arrangement or hook from another track and then mangle it until it becomes unrecognizable as anything but your own pure genius.

Just remember that you don't want to plain copy.  You just want to be influenced by. ;-)

34. Drop Your Ego

Yes, you want to make great music. Don't let your ego get in the way of musical inspiration though.

Take the pressure off yourself and aim for good enough. Accept good enough often enough times and soon it'll develop into something great.

35. Form New Habits

Always start with a kick pattern?  Start with a melody or chord progression for a while.

Always work at night?  Try early morning for a while.

Always produce in the same genre?  Try a different genre just for some fun for a while.

You get the idea.  New habits mean new pathways in the brain which may just mean some new musical inspiration on tap.

36. WWYD?

Ask yourself.  What Would Yeezy Do?  Now I like some of Kanye West's music but what amuses and impresses me more is his earth-shattering self-belief.  He just believes he's the best thing since sliced bread and lets nothing or nobody tell him otherwise.

Sometimes it may help to act as if you're the greatest producer in the world and hit the studio to just slay it. As you do!

37. Leave the Technical Stuff Aside

Separate your sessions into sessions for admin, clean-up, prep and different sessions for creativity.  Musical inspiration has the habit of running away when you're bogged down in problem-solving.  So when you write, just write. Sort out the technical details later.

38. Dumb Down Your Work

OK,  so you like complex, multi-layered tracks that have all the bells and whistles.  Why not try and create a super simple track for a change?  Make it too simple for your liking.  Often this will inspire good new music.

39. Clean Up

A tidy studio is a happy studio.  Clean up your workspace and clear the clutter in your DAW and instrument, presets and sample libraries.  I don't have to tell you that this works.  You probably know this well by now!

Image of Music Studio DAW

40. Buy a New Plugin

Remember when you first got your hands on Massive or Serum?  How about your favorite glitch plugin?

New toys are a sure-fire way to spark musical inspiration without much effort. Bonus!

Start with these 10 plugins if you're making dance music or review the best plugins available right now.

41. Buy New Samples

Same as above. New sounds in your library makes it easier to get going on a new project.

So, hit Splice or Loopmasters up and download some musical inspiration straight away.

42. Collab

Find a good producer friend and collaborate with them.  You may want to try find someone on a forum if you don't have any good producers in your circle of friends.

There are few things that help get the creative juices flowing like another human being to work with.

43. Phone a Friend

It doesn't have to be a producer in this case.  Sometimes a chat with a good friend can get you into a better mood and crank up your musical inspiration.

Messy Studio Image

44. Refresh Your Workflow

If you've been working in the same way since forever then you may want to try examine and upgrade your music production workflow.  A change is as good as a holiday and we've already seen what a holiday can do for your musical output.  So, find ways to switch up parts of your workflow and reap the added benefits of increased inspiration.

45. Invoke the Greats

Who are your musical icons and heroes?  Get some pictures of all of them and place the pics where you'll see them often in your studio.  Being in the company of great artists may just rub off on you and boost your inspiration.

46. Use a Carrot

Do you really want a new plugin or toy for you studio?  Maybe you've been thinking of buying that expensive bottle whiskey for a while?  Use rewards as a way to motivate you to produce more often.

Set rewards to go along with your goal.  If you finish that EP you buy your chosen reward.  It's a bit of an expensive way to get inspired but it works.

47. Drink Bulletproof Coffee

You can stick to normal coffee if you like.  It'll work.

If you want some extra brain-power available in the studio then I suggest you google bulletproof coffee.

48. Learn a New Skill

Music production involves a lot of different skills.  It's an ongoing process of learning and unlearning.

New skills in your producer skill-stack will open up new possibilities when you produce.  New possibilities lead to heightened musical inspiration in many areas of your workflow.

So, add a new skill as often as you can.

49. Remember Your Why

You may have forgotten what it was that got you into music-making in the first place.  A quick trip down memory lane can be just what you need to get the musical inspiration fired up fast.

Image of Handheld Recorder

50. Create a Found-Sounds Library

Get a hand-held recorder like a Zoom for example and record sounds in your environment.  Nothing is off-limits.

Record kitchen utensils, garden gates, traffic, animals, other humans.  Or go full-on foley artist for a day and make sounds with anything you can find.

You'll end up with a whole new library of sounds to get you right back into productive-mode in the studio.

51.  Make the Worst Track You Can

Set yourself a goal to create the worst track you can possibly imagine.  It may not turn out too bad at all!

52. Remember It's Not About You

The world needs your music and needs it bad.  They won't tell you that though.  So, it's up to you to remember this fact and remind yourself that if you don't produce it you're doing the world a disservice.

Get cracking, Renegade!

No More Excuses!

That's one tip for every week of the year.  You have no more excuses. ;-)

Now, get in there and make some great music!

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