5 Signs Perfectionism is Ruining Your Music And How to Fix It

By Leticia Trandafir

You’re a music creator and you want to put your best work forward. Naturally! You’re thinking about distributing your music and you want it to be perfect.

But perfection in music is dangerous…

Striving to do your best and always push the envelope is great. It’s the force that motivates you to keep going and improve your craft. But when it turns into perfectionism, it becomes a blocker.

Perfectionism leads you to the impossibly harsh inner critic that gives you a bad review every time you do something—so you end up doing nothing at all.

It leads to procrastination, self-doubt and stress that hinder your real creativity.

As an artist, you’ve surely been paralyzed by one of these before:

  • Not knowing where to start

  • Fear of failing

  • Your last failure

  • Your last success (and needing to top it)

  • Someone else’s success or talent

  • Someone else’s critiques

All of these fears grow from the pursuit of perfection.

The truth is, when you learn to embrace your imperfection, you’ll be able to finish more music, stay inspired longer and grow your craft much quicker—less fear means more releases. And more releases means growing as a creator everyday.

So to help you make everyday a creative one, here are five ways perfectionism might be hindering your music, and how to overcome them. So you can get back to being the incredible (and imperfect) producer making your best work.

1. You think you always need more stuff

Your browser has 20 tabs open with tips on how to perfect your mix. You’ve watched 10 tutorials on which guitar pedal to buy—but you already have 20 of them waiting on your pedalboard.

You obsess over gear you don’t have or learning this or that new trick…

But have you actually sat down to make music lately, with the gear and knowledge you already have?

When new gear or obsessive tweaking become a way to avoid finishing a track, that means perfectionism has become procrastination.

Your preoccupation with perfection may be THE thing keeping you from taking risks and challenging yourself. So just close those tabs, disconnect and return to your track. Turn off the inner critic for 45 minutes (time it if you need to!) and just create freely—come back to it and fix it later.

2. You always work on your live set but never play live

Having some performance anxiety as a musician is normal. But endlessly practising in your basement thinking that you’ll only play ‘when you’re really ready’ is a trap.

It might lead to never playing at all.

Get out of your bedroom! Book a show and work your ass off to get ready for it. The time limitation will be healthy.

Book a show a few months from now, even if you don’t feel ready. Having that date on the calendar will push you to work towards a concrete goal.

Remember that your music sounds different out in the world—on different PA systems, in rooms full of people, on dancefloors bursting with energy. You need to play your music out to see how people react to it. And it doesn’t have to be perfect from the first show.

Hot Tip: Use your ENTIRE soundcheck slot to make sure everything is absolutely tip-top. It’s what it’s there for. Measure twice, cut once!

Being a little scared gearing up to a show is good. Take the leap to playing shows and get out of your comfort zone.

Rehearse, prepare in advance and get everything set up to minimize the stress of the unknown. Get in the mind frame where you can embrace your mistakes and leave your perfectionism at home. You’ll find that the challenge was worth it. In the process, you became ready for anything. On to the next milestone!

3. You never share because it has to be ‘perfect’

We’ve all said it: “I’ll share my track when it’s perfect.” Or “Oh no, I can’t share any music with you, it’s not finished.”

I have news for you: Perfection doesn’t exist—even if it did, it’s not what makes a good song.