Learning how to overcome beat block, otherwise known as producer's block or writer's block, is a crucial skill if you ever feel dead in the water creatively.
We've all experienced beat block in one way or another. You sit down in your studio with the motivation to create something new, but nothing is coming out.
On the other hand, you might be halfway through a new track, but you're unsure what steps to take next.
Beat block can be a severe roadblock for many music producers, though there are many things you can do to overcome beat block and make sure it doesn't happen again.
In this guide, we're going to look at ten unique ways to overcome beat block so you can let your inspiration soar.
#1 Bring in the Feng Shui
Your studio space can have a significant impact on your mental state. It's the same thing as your home or your office. If you're in a space that's disorganized, there's a chance that your mind is a mess too.
Cleaning up the studio is a great way to reset your brain. Dust off your gear, coil up cables that are lying around, and store any equipment out of sight that's not in use.
I like to think of a clean studio as a clean slate. Cleaning your studio is a wonderful way to clear your mind and start fresh.
#2 Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Do you make house music?
Maybe today, you'll try making a trap song.
If you find yourself getting stuck in the same wheel all the time, it might be a good idea to force yourself to step out. There's a chance that you're suffering from beat block because you're stuck in a wheel.
One of the best ways to overcome being trapped in a wheel is to listen to a different genre and see what kinds of new elements you can experiment with in your music production. In doing so, you might walk away with some new things to add to the music you already love to make.
I make a lot of organic music. I enjoy recording live instruments and making indie/folk/alternative music. However, sometimes I like to play around with making punk or hip-hop music on quiet afternoons when I have time.
I always recommend taking time to learn about how to produce other genres, as it can expand your expertise as a producer. The good thing is that there are millions of production tutorials out there, which you can use to learn new techniques.
#3 Play an Instrument
While you can certainly have a lot of fun with samplers and VSTs, there's nothing quite like the tactile experience of playing a real instrument. Whether that instrument is a guitar, a piano, or a drum set is up to you!
The beauty of real instruments is that you can simply pick them up and start playing. There is built-in flow. You don't need to wait for anything to load up or worry about CPU dropouts.
If you don't already play an instrument, learn one. Not only will it give you something different to focus on when you're dealing with beat block, but it will also help you learn more about melodies, chords, harmony, and rhythm along the way.
As the cherry on top, if you end up learning something cool on your new instrument, you can sample it and use it in your track!
#4 Randomize Your Sample Choices
It is often the case that a sample can give you everything you need to get a song up and running.
Of course, the process of finding a sample can kill your flow, especially if you're always looking for a specific sound or sample. As an exercise, you might consider downloading a random sample pick, closing your eyes, and choosing a sample out of the hat.
The goal here is to refrain from overthinking your choice. Pick a sample and force yourself to build something around it. You may end up with something you would have never thought to make on your own.
This same randomization process can be used with instruments, VSTs, and plugins. I'll often close my eyes and randomly select something when I don't know where to go next. Letting fate guide you is an exciting way to elevate your creative process.
#5 Work On Your Arrangement
Many producers start beats by creating loops to work with. However, it's easy to burn out on a loop if you don't have the arrangement to go with it.
Rather than continuing to make a bunch of new loops, make your way back to an unfinished track on your hard drive and see what you can do to arrange it.
Maybe add a few different sections, throw in a breakdown, or pull drum elements in and out throughout the track. I'll often start making my arrangement as soon as possible when I have a loop done.
Don't be afraid to experiment with your arrangement and do something crazy, like change up the entire beat when you get to the halfway point in the arrangement.
A good arrangement is such a crucial part of finishing a track, and knowing that you've checked off that box will motivate you to keep going.
#6 Take a Deeper Dive Into Music Theory
Beat block will often happen to producers that don't feel like they have any new places to move musically.
You may be somebody that finds yourself using the same melodies, harmonies, motifs, or chord progressions. One of the best ways to overcome this hurdle is by learning more about music theory.
Maybe you can start by learning how to re-voice your chords or add extensions to them to make them more interesting. On the other hand, you may decide to learn new scales or chord progressions altogether.
The great thing is that the internet is an infinite source of music theory knowledge, and you can find just about anything you're looking for to ease your way out of beat block.
#7 Add Hardware to Your Workflow
After five hours of staring at a computer screen, it can begin to feel like you're working rather than making music. This is especially true for anyone that is in school or works an office day job.
You're on your computer all day, and when you go home to make music, you get on your computer again. Eventually, it can start to feel like you're in a never-ending cycle.
One of the best ways to mitigate this mundane feeling is by implementing hardware into your production setup. For example, you might choose to integrate a MIDI keyboard or a sample pad. Similar to playing an instrument, having hardware that controls your DAW and VSTs will turn your setup into a hybrid station, while providing you with a more tactile experience.
The great thing is that you don't have to spend tons of money to get your hands on high-quality hardware.
#8 Gather Inspiration from Your Favorite Producers
From forums to websites to YouTube videos, there are many places around the internet where you can draw inspiration from your favorite producers. Many of the best producers make content, so their fans and followers can see what they have going on.
If I ever get sick of something I'm working on, I'll go and watch videos of how my favorite producers work in their studios. Not only does it give my mind a break from my current work, but it also inspires me to implement new workflows, creative prompts, or production techniques.
Obviously, YouTube is a great place to start if you're looking for quality production tips. Don't be afraid to dive down the rabbit hole and see what you find.
Even if you end up somewhere you didn't plan for, you'll likely learn something new. Plus, watching other people make music is one of the best ways to inspire yourself to dive in.
#9 Get Out of Your Studio
It may be the case that you've spent too long in the same studio space. Being in the same room for hours on end can suck the inspiration dry, draining any semblance of creativity you might have left. I often find that one of the best ways to step outside my comfort zone is to change my studio environment.
Sometimes, I'll take my laptop and go sit at a coffee shop with some headphones to listen to my mixes, just to feel a different energy around me. Other times, I'll take my guitar out in the living room and strum around until I come up with some ideas, which I can take back with me into the studio to continue working on.
If you don't have another space to go, you might just consider changing up the space you currently have. Simple changes can make a huge difference. For example, you can rearrange your gear to make it more practical, change up your lighting, or hang up some new decorations to create a different vibe.
#10 Collaborate with Other Producers
One of the best ways to get a fresh perspective on your beats is to collaborate with someone else. I often find that teaming up with somebody who has a different skill set than me is the best way to find new inspiration.
For example, you might be great at creating trap beats, though you're not the best singer. In that case, you may consider working with someone who is a good singer to lay down some cool new vocal chops for you to experiment with.
Both you and the person you're collaborating with can benefit from the experience.
Even if you don't have a community of musicians or producers around with which you can collaborate, online collaboration has been made easier than ever with a wide range of new platforms. It's often as simple as bouncing out your stems and sending your track to someone online.
#11 Consume Art
You can only listen to music for so long before your brain starts to tire of it.
In this case, a great way to cure beat block is by consuming different kinds of art. You might go watch one of your favorite TV shows, play one of your favorite video games, or head to a local museum to explore that hot new exhibit everyone is talking about.
I find no better inspiration than art that moves me.
Doing other activities can remind you why you love making music so much in the first place, and that can be the motivating factor you need to drive forward.
#12 Organize Your Project Folders
There's a difference between struggling with your creativity when making music and struggling with a less-than-optimized workflow. If you have disorganized folders in your DAW, overcoming beat block may be as simple as getting organized.
If you use Ableton, for example, consider organizing your samples into clearly titled folders. Your samples, plugins, presets, and anything else that you need to makes new music should be carefully organized to improve your workflow.
This way, when you're making beats, you can focus on creating music rather than trying to look for specific sounds on your desktop like a needle in a haystack.
#13 Download Some New Plugins or Samples
Experiencing beat block may be a sign that you don't feel inspired by your current materials or workflow. For example, when I'm playing guitar, I often like to switch it up by playing with new picks, trying different tunings, or plugging into a different pedal than I'm used to.
In the same way, you might just need to add some new sounds and plugins to your music production arsenal to overcome beat block. The good thing is that there are millions of plugins and virtual instruments to explore. Whether it's a new EQ or a sound design tool you've had your eye on for quite some time, having new tools is a great way to inspire creativity and new ideas.
#14 Take a Break
One of the simplest ways to overcome beat block is to take a break. Put your mind to rest and do something completely different. I recommend taking a break at least every hour when you're working on something, as it can replenish your energy and recharge your inspiration.
If you start feeling bored, it's probably a good sign that it's time to take a break. What you do on your break is completely up to you. You might choose to go to the gym and get a workout in, so you can quite literally get your blood flowing. On the other hand, you might just go lay outside in the sun if it's a nice day and let your mind wander.
Giving yourself time to rest is important, and I feel like people in the music industry don't talk about it enough. Music has become a hustle culture, and it almost seems like if you are not working on something right now, you're falling behind.
The truth is, if you're constantly working, you'll burn out. Plus, the ideas you come up with in that state of constant work will probably not be as good as they would be if you allowed yourself time to refresh.
Next time you sit down to produce a track, set a timer for an hour. When it goes off, take a break and come back when you're feeling ready.
Get Past Your Creative Block
There's no question about it. Having beat block is a total bummer. The last thing any music producer wants is to feel as if they've lost their creativity.
If you want to make top-notch tracks and unleash your creative process so that you never have to deal with beat block again, follow our tips above to stay inspired.