When is a song finished? LOLO BX Blog - producer tips and tutorials for EDM and electronic producers
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When is a song finished? At what point does a project stop being an unpolished ‘WIP’ and become an actual song? How much time do we waste on the final stages, pulling our hair out and not actually improving anything?

If you’re anything like me, too much!

How many times have you sat in the studio tweaking a snare for hours, days, or even weeks? How many times have you listened to a song over and over without actually working out what it needs to be ‘finished’?

The ‘idea’ is 95%

I believe 95% of a song is the idea. Once you’ve got your concept down and structured and the basics all in place, you’re 95% of the way there.

The rest is polishing, tweaking and final mixdown. Obviously everyone is at a different skill level and certain stages are easier for different people, but it’s helpful to understand that we can never make a song perfect.

A song can only be as good as we’re able to make it with our current skill set. The hard part is finding the cutoff point.

A mixed song is 99%

If the idea is 95%, that only leaves us with 5% to chase. This is where we get caught up. A polish and mix might take us to 99% – but that last percent is almost impossible to grasp.

We need to weigh up the opportunity cost of pefectionism. Time is a limited resource, and chasing 100% is not really the best use of it.

I believe a song is finished when we hit that 99% mark.

It can be very hard (but a productive habit) to start calling a song finished and moving on once we hit 99%.

A good idea is to call it done and let it sit for a few days. Come back and see if any changes jump out on first listen. If so, make those, and call the song finished (for real this time).

By no means am I suggesting anyone half-ass their work, or deliver less than their full potential. But if you really consider how much time you’re wasting in the final production stage, this theory might make sense.