Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With

Noise Creators
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For over a decade, Jesse Cannon has been pushing creative ideas in music. You may know him from writing one of the most popular books on the music business, Get More Fans, or from his recording credits on records with the most varied set of bands you’ve ever seen including: The Cure, The Misfits, Animal Collective, Brand New, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Menzingers, Limp Bizkit, Basement, Leftover Crack, Saves The Day, Senses Fail, Weird Al, Lifetime, Say Anything, NOFX, Man Overboard, Bad Books, Transit, Somos, Conflict and over a thousand others. You may also know his work as the host of the podcast Noise Creators and Off The Record or from writing for outlets like Alternative Press, Tape Op, Hypebot and countless others. He just wrote a book about what he’s learned working on all those records and writing about music’s bleeding edge, taking on the subject he knows the most about; helping musicians fulfill their creative vision. Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With is the culmination of four years of poring over scientific studies, books and thoughts from top creators as well as his own experience to write a book every musician should read about what goes into making great music versus what bands do when they make a bad album. 

Covering the pitfalls of creating music, the book thoroughly explores the hidden reasons we actually like music, how to get along with your collaborators and patterns that help creativity flourish. While every musician says that being creative is the most important part of their life, they barely explore what’s holding back them back from making music they are happy with. When trying to navigate the ways our creative endeavors fail there’s no YouTube tutorial, listicle or college course that can help navigate the countless creative pitfalls that can ruin your music. If you’ve had trouble getting your music to be as good as the musicians you look up to, then this book can help you understand the practices they use to make their music so great. 

He’s crafted a book that exposes life-changing knowledge that can be read in under a day, that identifies the patterns and essential knowledge he helps bring to musicians each day. Writing a detailed read that will leave even the most advanced creators with a new perspective on how to make music they’re more happy with. There are no rules to being creative, but there's research and considerations that can help you make better decisions, get past the breakdowns in your process and enhance the emotional impact your songs have on others. The essential ideas on creating music are detailed in a simple, fun language that’s littered with quotes and insight from the most innovative creators of our time that discusses subjects like:

How to make highly emotional music that makes listeners compelled to listen again and again.
Effectively dealing with collaborative problems like “too many chefs in the kitchen,” giving helpful criticism or dealing with stubborn collaborators.
Finding inspiration to develop into music that’s uniquely your own.  How to draft your songs while avoiding the common pitfalls of losing perspective and giving up.
Examining the unexpected reasons we enjoy music.
Calming your thoughts so they don’t sabotage your music and other helpful tools to help execute your music as best as possible. 
Whether you're a music fan, producer, songwriter or musician, there's no book with more helpful ideas that can help make everything you create in the future better. 

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About the author

 I somehow got my first work being paid in the music business when I was 15. Since then I’ve managed to work in nearly every facet of the music business. If a stranger happens to know who I am, they usually know me from being lucky enough to have worked on records in various capacities with bands like The Cure, Animal Collective, The Misfits, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Brand New, Limp Bizkit, Man Overboard, Somos, Basement, NOFX and The Menzingers. I'm also known for writing the book Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business, which has gone on to be one of the most popular books on the music business. I also host two podcasts, Off The Record and Noise Creators and write articles on the music business for various sites like Alternative Press and Party Smasher Inc. along with a handful of others.

But that doesn’t explain how I got to do all of that and that's what I'm supposed to explain here. When I was barely a teenager I started to get paid for doing live sound at concerts and spoken word events. Two years later, a hilarious and fun guy by the name of Stork liked my mixes and invited me to engineer live performances at the world-renowned freeform radio station WFMU. There I was lucky enough to work for nearly a decade recording acts like The Magnetic Fields, Spoon, The Sea and The Cake, Olivia Tremor Control and a couple hundred others. Because of this I started doing live sound at local clubs The Pipeline and Connections. In time, I started booking shows for the company that booked those clubs and the legendary Coney Island High in NYC. Somewhere in this time I got my first credit on a record singing back up vocals on a song with Joey & Dee Dee Ramone, which I still question if I've ever topped. 

Those jobs gave me enough courage to put on my own concerts, and be crazy enough to think I knew what I was doing enough to start recording local bands. But all of this would happen at night, so I needed a day job. I then started working at my local punk record store (Let It Rock), which then qualified me to work at Soapbox Records on St. Marks Place in NYC. This was great since it also housed esteemed indie label Go-Kart Records where I ran the record store and did publicity. While I love marketing, PR is way too social for me and I preferred talking to creative people instead of cranky zine editors. I was also writing for the esteemed zines of the day like Tape Op, Punk Planet and Maximum RockNRoll. So I decided to stop doing live sound and working at record labels in order to focus on record production. My boss at Go Kart was kind enough to give me a recommendation to Alan Douches at West West Side Music, who happens to be the engineer with the most credits in all of music history.

At West West Side I got to learn how to engineer and master from the best in the business. Not only did I get to work under Alan’s amazing talent, the best producers in the business were coming by every day (J. Robbins, John Agnello, Brian Mcternan, Kurt Ballou) as well as the coolest bands around seemed to walk in the door every day (Fatboy Slim, Fall Out Boy, LCD Soundsystem, Brand New). In that time, I met Steve Evetts (one of my favorite producers growing up) and got to work with him on great records by The Dillinger Escape Plan, Senses Fail, Saves The Day and Say Anything. He then brought me to work with Ross Robinson (my other favorite producer growing up) and I got to work with The Cure & Limp Bizkit among others under him.

While all that was happening, two other significant parts of the story happened. I harnessed my own production skills and they became so in demand I started my own studio Cannon Found Soundation, which I still run to this day working with hundreds of bands a year. In that time these two interests collided and I decided to start a blog on the things other blogs weren’t writing about in music and wanted to show all the secrets being hidden, since that’s the most punk thing you can do and punk is the closest thing I have to a religion.

This blog became Musformation, a blog I continued through 2015, when I decided to diversify my writing to introduce myself to other audiences. The blog’s music business articles seemed to be very popular and really resonated, so I decided to go with it. I started helping and then managing the two most promising bands I was producing -- Man Overboard and Transit, so I could experiment with the ideas I was writing about. These ideas turned out to be right and both signed with one of the biggest indies in the world (Rise Records) and built massive fanbases under my watch.

That was fun and all, but managing and producing records full-time do not mix. So those bands went their way and I kept producing records. A lot of bands asked me to manage them, but I like sleep and hate stress so I decided against that option. I instead put out my book Get More Fans, so every band could learn everything I did working with them and researching the new music business. Because of that book I got a reputation for knowing music tech, which led me to getting approached to do the podcast, Off The Record and form Noise Creators, a service I co-founded that helps connect musicians with the best producers in music today.

In 2017, I released the book Processing Creativity, a book that aims to help musicians thoroughly understand the creative pitfalls that happen while creating music. I will continue to make a lot of cool podcasts and articles on this subject in the coming years. 

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Additional Information

Noise Creators
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Published on
Mar 28, 2017
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Music / Instruction & Study / Songwriting
Music / Recording & Reproduction
Self-Help / Creativity
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Eligible for Family Library

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"Ari is at the front of the front. He gets it. I've read a hundred how-to-make-it-in-the-music-biz books, and this one is today's definitive, comprehensive manual." —Jack Conte, 150+ million YouTube views, Pomplamoose, CEO of Patreon

Forget everything you think you know about the odds of “making it” in the music industry. Today, odds mean nothing and success is not about lucky breaks. It’s about conquering social media, mastering the art of merchandising and simply working harder and being smarter than everyone else. We are living in the midst of an industry renaissance, one that has left the record companies desperately struggling to maintain their prominence, as a subculture of dedicated, DIY (do-it-yourself) musicians have taken over. These days talent is a given and success has to be earned.

In 2008, Ari Herstand boldly turned in his green Starbucks apron to his manager, determined to make a living off his craft as a singer/songwriter. Almost a decade later, he has become a founding member of the new DIY movement and a self-sustaining musician, all without the help of a major label. Now, drawing from years of experience, Herstand has written the definitive guide for other like-minded artists, the ones who want to forge their own path and not follow the traditional markers of success, like record sales, hits on the radio or the amount of your label advance. Incredibly comprehensive and brutally honest throughout, How to Make It in the New Music Business covers every facet of the "new" business, including how to:

Build a grass-roots fan base—and understand the modern fan Book a profitable tour, and tips for playing live, such as opening vs. headlining etiquette, and putting on a memorable show Become popular on YouTube, Spotify and SoundCloud Get songs placed in film and television Earn royalties you didn’t know existed and reach your crowdfunding goals

Musicians will not only be introduced to all the tools available today but will be shown how to effectively leverage them to actually make money. More important, they will develop the mindset to be aware of new advancements both online and in the real world and always stay in tune with a constantly evolving landscape.

There has never been a better time to be an independent musician. Today, fans can communicate with their idols by simply picking up their phones, artists are able to produce studio-worthy content from their basement and albums are funded not by "record men" but by generous, engaged supporters. As result, How to Make It in the New Music Business is a must-have guide for anyone hoping to navigate the increasingly complex yet advantageous landscape that is the modern music industry.

Do you love sitting at home playing guitar, but find yourself playing the same old things over and over without making much progress?

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Fretboard Theory will have you mastering music like a pro easier and faster than you ever thought possible. Plus, it's the ONLY GUITAR THEORY RESOURCE in the world that includes important details to hundreds of popular songs. You learn how to play in the style of pop, rock, acoustic, blues, and more!

This guitar instruction is perfect whether you want to jam, compose or just understand the music you play better. The material is suitable for both acoustic and electric guitar, plus it features many references to bass.

Level: Recommended for intermediate level players on up.


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Fretboard Theory Volume II

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Finalist for the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the 2016 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, and the 2015 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year

One of Billboard’s 100 Greatest Music Books of All Time

A New York Times Editors’ Choice

ONE OF THE YEAR'S BEST BOOKS: The Washington Post • The Financial Times • Slate • The Atlantic • Time • Forbes

“[How Music Got Free] has the clear writing and brisk reportorial acumen of a Michael Lewis book.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

What happens when an entire generation commits the same crime?

How Music Got Free is a riveting story of obsession, music, crime, and money, featuring visionaries and criminals, moguls and tech-savvy teenagers. It’s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, a revolutionary invention and an illegal website four times the size of the iTunes Music Store. 

Journalist Stephen Witt traces the secret history of digital music piracy, from the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a North Carolina compact-disc manufacturing plant where factory worker Dell Glover leaked nearly two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to the high-rises of midtown Manhattan where music executive Doug Morris cornered the global market on rap, and, finally, into the darkest recesses of the Internet.

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An irresistible never-before-told story of greed, cunning, genius, and deceit, How Music Got Free isn’t just a story of the music industry—it’s a must-read history of the Internet itself.
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