Had a great time swapping songs with my Friend Rolando last night.  Rol’s got some strong song starters he’s working on that could turn into some pretty cool tunes.  He also provided some some great lyrical and arrangement feedback on one of the songs I’ve been working on for a while – “I Hear Voices,” that I think I’ll incorporate into the next few re-writes.  Heck, I might just get that thing recorded this year!

Other than the song-swapping fun, I got a crash course tutorial in using Pro Tools, that helped me climb the learning curve a lot more quickly than I would have on my own.  I had heard Pro Tools was awesome, but in the 30-60 minute blocks of playing with it, I’ve only scratched the surface in terms off features I really know how to use.  After working with Rolando for a couple hours, I actually have a rough cut recorded mix of “I Hear Voices.”  It’s not fit for publication yet, but it’s a great start, and was a great help in helping me figure out the basics.

What an awesome App!  Now that I’m starting to really “get it,” I think I’ll be able to make some quicker progress toward the CD project.  But the biggest thing I learned is something I already knew from my gig in the software industry: 

Perfect is the enemy of good enough!

I’m in the software business.  In my line of work, you get a lot of mileage by starting with something simple (and WAY imperfect) as a proof of concept or brainstorming tool, and build on it in whatever direction gts you closer to the goal.  That’s a pretty key concept when you’re building multimillion-dollar pieces of information architecture.  Deliver value early, even if it’s small and doesn’t satisfy everyone.  Then build in the bells and whistles around that initial core incrementally until you’re done.

Guy Kawasaki (An evangelist for Apple Computer during the early Mac days) published a book called Rules for Revolutionaries, in which he lays out a few of the keys to product development success.  Like Agile Software principles, he emphasizes time to market over perfection.  For me, the key takeaways were:

1.  Don’t worry. Be Crappy. (Waiting on something perfect shuts down the process and keeps you from doing good)

2.  Churn, baby, Churn! (Take feedback early and often and crank out new versions until you’ve taken it as far as you and your audience want.

Mea cupla!  When I’m writing songs, I rarely apply these same principles that I’m challenged to live by in the professional world.  I typically get frustrated with imperfection on the first take when it doesn’t sound like what I hear in my head, then start over with something else rather than sticking to a re-write strategy.   That’s why I still don’t have my first CD project complete today.

All of us songwriters want that huge hit, but we don’t always treat our song craft as seriously as our other professional interests.  So my key lesson learned from last night is this:  Get SOMETHING done quickly, and keep taking baby steps toward the goal until it’s accomplished.

So now I’ve climbed the learning curve far enough that I don’t have any excuses remaining.  All that’s left is to get on with the process, and iterate through it until I find something I like enough to share with the world.

Thanks, Rol, for the Pro Tools lesson, and for reminding me of what I seem to have forgotten!

Looks like I have learned a few good life lessons in the geek gigs over the years!

On with the baby steps!