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How long has it taken you to musically get where you are today?


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My theory is this, "No matter the age, if you dedicate your time to learning a certain craft, you will get better at it."

Me and Neblix, for example, might have been working on music for the same number of years, but I might have been putting in more of my personal time within those six years. He might have been in high school and working part-time or something, I was in college slacking off. So, I had more free time to dedicate to my music within those six years.

Damn, now I feel old after saying that.

Since you are older, you may have more responsibilities than many of us. So, you might not have the time and patience to learn how to work with music. That doesn't mean there is something wrong with your brain, it just means you are not focused on music.

FOCUS DANIELSON!!!

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I started sometime in 2004 (2003 possibly even?) with FLStudio, but didn't actually fully get into it until about 2006, before then it was something I just had and never did anything with. I like to think I'm continuously getting better, and at the very least I feel like I'm finding a unique niche to work in.

Probably the biggest help to my production of electronic music oddly enough was joining a punk band; I can't really play piano but I was their keyboardist and being in a genre you're completely unfamiliar with playing an instrument you've never really played was really a great learning experience and was a great way for me to get into rock music in general.

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Well there are alot of factors involved in musical growth - musical background, your musical strengths and weaknesses, your educational growth with music, how often you work on your music and how seriously you take it... I do think age and time working with music is a factor, but there are so many others to consider on top of that as well as far as musical growth is concerned.

For me, finding OverClocked Remix was one of the most important breakthroughs of my musical life - my music making skills have increased at a much more rapid rate than it was before I joined, and I don't think its a stretch of the imagination to think thats the same with a very high percentage of the musicians on this site.

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Yeah, the time it takes to learn might be about the same, but not everyone puts the same amount of time into it. Some people spend every waking hour on something musical, others take classes once a week and practice occasionally. The former would learn stuff a lot faster, and even more so with a resource like ocr.

Like Will, I improved quickly once I got here, having had something like 5 years of prior experience of music making pretty much in private, and before then being exposed to a lot of music via church and family. I got a mix posted about a year after joining. I think two years at ocr is enough for anyone with the drive to learn and improve, but not everyone has the time to learn that fast.

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This might sound a bit douche-ish but it's not meant to be a self promotion. I started my first MIDI in april 2008 and finished my Pokémon Crystal mix on January 2009 HOWEVER, I've been having saxophone/music theory lessons since 2001. I have to say that OCR has helped me so much as a musician. Yeah, my production and mixing still has a HUGE way to go yet but I am a firm believer that seven months of lurking the WIP forums and posting tracks, trying to correct EXACTLY each critisim I got, helped me more than school could.

Simply listening to music and trying to recreate the style and effects used in my favorite remixes (GaMeBoX's 'iMushroom' and Zircon's 'Clash at the Mountains' were prominent ones at the time) was hugely benificial. Couple that with some MIDI deconstruction, to see how they were written, and perhaps a few Google searches for free VST's and Soundfonts and that's really how I learnt to mix.

I did this pretty much each night for seven months leaving all my schoolwork as second priority. I'm all for what Blue Magic said, pretty sure that's how it worked out here.

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My theory is this, "No matter the age, if you dedicate your time to learning a certain craft, you will get better at it."

Me and Neblix, for example, might have been working on music for the same number of years, but I might have been putting in more of my personal time within those six years. He might have been in high school and working part-time or something, I was in college slacking off. So, I had more free time to dedicate to my music within those six years.

Damn, now I feel old after saying that.

Since you are older, you may have more responsibilities than many of us. So, you might not have the time and patience to learn how to work with music. That doesn't mean there is something wrong with your brain, it just means you are not focused on music.

FOCUS DANIELSON!!!

Alright, I was more specifically referring to the fact that you had 1 year of experience before getting posted.

I have more experience than you did then, but you still got a posted remix (as opposed to me). But then again, you have to factor in that I like to watch shows about a justice-driven con artist team and a government spy fugitive trying to recover his job.

And I have homework to do.

(Hm, don't have a part time job and I started high school 7-8 months ago).

Anyone can understand why you ARE better than me now, because you have 6 years on you and I have 2-3 years. But it might take more info to understand why, when you had one year, you were still better than what I am NOW. Does being posted mean you were better? OH WAIT:

I THINK WHAT WE'RE MISSING AS A FACTOR HERE IS THAT OCR STANDARDS ARE INCREASING AND THE SPEED AT WHICH A PERSON COULD GET POSTED BACK THEN COULD BE VERY DIFFERENT FROM NOW

(and yes, my caps lock key is broken. No, I don't know why it's suddenly fixed. Maybe I "broke" it to draw some attention to the statement.)

I can make music that's better than some of the posted OCRemixes here, or that would've been easily posted back then (based on the quality of said remixes). My music is not meeting current standards, but it could've back then.

This theory won't really work if you don't take into account that standards were lower back then.

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Honestly though, again, if you just listen to my early remixes and originals you'd hear how absolutely awful they were. Those 8 years of piano experience really didn't mean much at all, and to make matters worse I was primarily relying on premade loops and sounds! I attribute my improvement (messed with music in very late '02, posted in '04) to sheer dedication. I made a hell of a lot of crappy ReMixes. I bugged people left and right for advice. I made it a point to try to collaborate with people like Unknown/Tyler Heath, Rellik and tefnek. I studied the tools out there and relentlessly upgraded my setup, from buying headphones (instead of using $20 computer monitors), to getting Komplete 2, to upgrading my computer, etc.

At the same time, I've used a premade loop only once ever in my songs and I stayed away from presets until I started doing one-hour compos. I stayed away from MIDI rips.

Why? Because people on this site said they were bad. I kind of wonder if that stole away a few years of fun especially since I heard of so many people here starting by doing MIDI rips, loop rips, and presets.

I've listened to your early work (you posted them once in some thread). I thought they weren't bad from a compositional standpoint even if they weren't solid technical achievements. But I know what you mean. I did about two years of band in elementary school and that knowledge hasn't translated to any benefit in my remixing. I played baritone for two years and nowadays I have no idea how to create a bassline. The irony!

But I do believe as well that sound design/production and composition are nearly orthogonal skillsets. One reason why people who get onto this site nowadays are so good - they're able to do both.

I just hate theories because they start generalizing and setting standards for people to meet.

Everyone has their own pace.

Yes, how an individual approaches music is up to that individual. However, it doesn't mean that you can't detect and establish trends using publicly-available data.

I mean, what's someone going to do with the information anyway? It's just curiosity. Also, I did state in my hypothesis (it would be wrong to call it a theory as it's untested) "by today's OCR standards", which I *believe* started in around 2003ish. I'll check when I start gathering data.

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Alright, I was more specifically referring to the fact that you had 1 year of experience before getting posted.

I have more experience than you did then, but you still got a posted remix (as opposed to me). But then again, you have to factor in that I like to watch shows about a justice-driven con artist team and a government spy fugitive trying to recover his job.

And I have homework to do.

(Hm, don't have a part time job and I started high school 7-8 months ago).

Anyone can understand why you ARE better than me now, because you have 6 years on you and I have 2-3 years. But it might take more info to understand why, when you had one year, you were still better than what I am NOW. Does being posted mean you were better? OH WAIT:

I THINK WHAT WE'RE MISSING AS A FACTOR HERE IS THAT OCR STANDARDS ARE INCREASING AND THE SPEED AT WHICH A PERSON COULD GET POSTED BACK THEN COULD BE VERY DIFFERENT FROM NOW

(and yes, my caps lock key is broken. No, I don't know why it's suddenly fixed. Maybe I "broke" it to draw some attention to the statement.)

I can make music that's better than some of the posted OCRemixes here, or that would've been easily posted back then (based on the quality of said remixes). My music is not meeting current standards, but it could've back then.

This theory won't really work if you don't take into account that standards were lower back then.

I didn't really know for certain what you have going on in your life, nor how much experience you have. I was just using you as an example.

I knew the "rising OCR standards" issue would come into play eventually, but if you think about it, the standards have not risen THAT much. I mean look at Quinn Fox's latest remix. He made that back when I first started remixing and it was posted yesterday.

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At the same time, I've used a premade loop only once ever in my songs and I stayed away from presets until I started doing one-hour compos. I stayed away from MIDI rips.

Why? Because people on this site said they were bad. I kind of wonder if that stole away a few years of fun especially since I heard of so many people here starting by doing MIDI rips, loop rips, and presets.

You know, to be honest I kind of agree with you on that. I think it's WAY more important for people to have fun with remixing and making music, not to study textbooks first. It's easy for me to look back and say "oh, I wish I had learned the ins and outs of subtractive synthesis from day 1" or "if only I had studied music theory for 5 years", but maybe if I had tried that I never would have been motivated enough to really pursue it. My first piano teacher was not a strict disciplinarian, and neither were my parents when it came to playing the piano. They encouraged me to enjoy it (while still practicing 20-30 mins a day, expanding to 45) which eventually led to greater proficiency.

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I played about 4-6 different instruments between the ages of 9-13 in school band. Although that never included really anything music theory wise. Between the ages of 16 to 18 I spent alot of time messing around in Fruity Loops 3. I had absolutely no friggin clue about music theory or anything. I literally spent my time trying to make hooks and arranging 1-2 minute songs. During my teenage years I picked up lots of weird habits in making music bc I was literally figuring everything out in a closed box by myself. As an example: I was wicked excited when I realized that when I played 2 white keys on the piano with one white key in between it sounded good. This came after the discovery of how playing only the white keys on a piano sounded good...not kidding. :)

At the age of 20, in the summer of 2006 I got back into music much more seriously at OCR. At this time I started learning about everything else that goes into making a song. I got my first mix accepted in September 2007:

http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01832/

I really worked my arse off in 2006/2007. I think the best and worst thing I did musically was to constantly take chances with songs I made. After joining OCR lots of things happened and music took me in many different directions. I am lucky enough to have done quite a bit of professional sound design in terms of making presets for all kinds of crazy shizz. Went to graduate school in Ireland and received my Msc in Music Technology. Right now I want get back into improving my song writing.

Since 2006 my focus went way more towards the technical and production side of things. This was due in large part to OCR production standards. Although in grad school having a strong background in that area helped tremendously. My advice for the peeps starting out is to try and always keep the fun and joy of making music going. Also learn what your creative impulses are. Try to learn to make music before making an OCR passable song. It'll be easier to develop your style. Also try out multiple genres. It's a crash course in picking up all kinds of little tricks.

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You know, to be honest I kind of agree with you on that. I think it's WAY more important for people to have fun with remixing and making music, not to study textbooks first. It's easy for me to look back and say "oh, I wish I had learned the ins and outs of subtractive synthesis from day 1" or "if only I had studied music theory for 5 years", but maybe if I had tried that I never would have been motivated enough to really pursue it. My first piano teacher was not a strict disciplinarian, and neither were my parents when it came to playing the piano. They encouraged me to enjoy it (while still practicing 20-30 mins a day, expanding to 45) which eventually led to greater proficiency.

I think also a lot of people also get into OCR with the belief "I'm going to get posted on OCR" without a thought on exactly how much work it takes to, well, get posted on OCR. I think it's pretty much agreed among us that if you make it onto OCR, you're a pretty good musician.

And, if you don't realise that it takes a ton of hard work (I still believe it's years) and practice to become posted then you, well, end up working and getting frustrated in the short term.

I've had more fun with music when I just stopped caring about standards and just created stuff. :)

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When I first started remixing, I thought there was just no hope for me to get something that sounded as good as anything I'd heard on OCR. I thought it was impossible. I played cello in orchestra, so I was familiar with how to read music and play an instrument, but I had no real experience composing anything beyond a few midis here or there. I didn't have any idea how you were "supposed to" make music. I really thought there was no hope because I didn't know any theory or anything, but I decided to find a free program and learn how to use it anyway. I was lucky - within about 5 months of starting out, my first mix (the second remix I did) was on OCR.

After that point, as I begun to learn more, things about the process started to demystify a bit. I had a real desire to be respected and recognized at the time. But the further I went along, the more I realized that doing what I wanted to do made many people dislike my music because it was too weird or experimental. And I couldn't really deal with that at the time. It and a bunch of other things lead me to leaving the site for awhile, but that's a whole different story.

I know people talk about how high the standards are these days, so it's more of a bigger deal to get a mix through. The standards certainly higher than they were in the past, sure, but there is still a lot of stuff that gets on OCR that has a whole lot of room for improvement. The point being, you don't have to make something perfect, or feel that you're making the piece of music exactly for OCR to have to hold up to its standards. And I think some people have a big misconception here. I'm uncomfortable by people who make it their only goal to just get a mix posted on OCR. I mean, it's a good initial goal to have. Being on OCR is a big deal when you're starting out, after all. But then once you are, and your name is on the front page, and the excitement dies down...it's sort of a "now what?". What's next?

For me, I need to have a feeling like I've really done something that I could be proud of. I'd be much more proud of a mix that I felt I took a real chance on that didn't make it onto OCR than one that I felt was much more safe that was posted. I don't want to hear music that sounds like "safe music", I want to hear music that sounds inspired and full of energy and ideas. I have a desire to explore different things, that's why I make music. I make music that I'd want to listen to, but I do make it for other people in the sense that I very much want to share it with other people.

The kind of music I have made has been very intuitive and not particularly a result of studying things carefully but just trying out a bunch of random ideas wildly matched with extreme trial and error. It works for me, it definitely won't work for some people - everybody has their own process. But the point is that I never learned how I was "supposed to" do things. I still don't know how I'm "supposed to" do things. I've found out that I like it that way. The less I worry about what I "should" be doing in my music or what other people are expecting out of my music and the more I think about just having fun and trying different things out, the happier I am.

So the desire to keep going despite lack of knowledge or skills and whatever has always been the most important part for me. I think it's important to think about what drives your need to do music, and work towards that as much as possible. Hard work is very important, but that comes out is an extension of your desire. But worries like your talent level or age or lack of equipment - don't even worry about that kind of stuff. Trust me - I was a young remixer and I got a little caught up in thinking in my own head sometimes about I was the best blah blah blah. And it didn't help me in any way, musically or otherwise, to think about that stuff. I had to make sure to keep reminding myself that this is an amateur community and I was doing the music for fun. So just do what you want to do and do the best you can do. You may or may not get onto OCR, but you will get better at music, and you will have fun doing it, I promise.

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In my opinion, getting posted on OCR means you know what you're doing and now the community knows too.

Sure it might've been a fluke, but you can look at the fluke, see what made it a fluke and then make other flukes until they're not even flukes; they're the real deal. Next thing you know shell out a few bucks for new equipment and get recruited onto some soundtrack development for an iPod Touch game...

Anyways the point is getting posted on OCR is a good goal for getting your music from crappy to great. But once you get posted, your music's great, but it's not the best. Then you just aim to be like Zircon or bLiNd and give it 7-8 years more of experience then you get yourself into a respectable position. :P

I mean, what's someone going to do with the information anyway? It's just curiosity. Also, I did state in my hypothesis (it would be wrong to call it a theory as it's untested) "by today's OCR standards", which I *believe* started in around 2003ish. I'll check when I start gathering data.

http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR00943/

First thing that comes to mind. :P

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The younger you start in music, the more opportunity you have to grow in a smaller amount of time *at certain things*. I envy people who started composing with music programs in their teens. I didn't start until I was around 25 years old. This doesn't mean that I'm bad and never going to get certain things or wrap my head around them, it just means that it's going to take me a little longer than maybe it would have for me ten years prior.

It's called brain plasticity. Someone immersed into a certain realm of expertise (in this case, music) at an earlier age will most likely pick up techniques and skills easier. They will become hard-wired into their brains, and their brains will adapt to this knowledge and memory, and retain these skills well into adulthood. It's like building a house... You start from the ground up, and for someone with music as a cornerstone, it's going to be easier for them to keep going back to that solid foundation.

Of course you can have Neuroplasticity well into adulthood and it's been documented that you can still reshape and rewire your neurons etc. well past adolescence, but circumstantially, those that are exposed to certain skills and experiences at an earlier age are able to adapt easier. The more you progress into life, the harder it is to rewire your brain.

That's why we really work at teaching children, why we force them to go to school... Because they have room for the really fundamental information. That's why we talk about 'shaping' them so much.

The way I see it, you have so much room in your brain, at a certain point, people seem to hit this place where there's too much information to retain everything, a type of glass ceiling... Even if we supposedly have this unlimited potential for learning, as you get older it still becomes harder to retain everything. Anyone can focus though, and work it through... But it feels that with things like memories, life experiences... The more you experience, the more you have to slowly sift things out, put less important things way in the back in a folder of experiences... It's weird, but to me, the things I remember learning the most were skills as a teenager, when I was into drawing every day after school, or when I was listening to music from my favorite artists, wondering how they did what they did, or when I was in highschool band... Or all the video games I played when I was a young teen... I keep going back to those experiences...

Take for example, I have amblyopia, this means that my brain favors one eye over the other. I do not have stereoscopic (no REAL depth perception) vision like most people do. This wasn't discovered as a problem I had until I was seven years old, and the powers that be in the 1980s told my parents that there was nothing to be done, that I was too old to have this brain dysfunction fixed. I never really understood, but when I was much older, I went into a lasik center to see if I could get my eyes fixed.

I have astigmatism in my left eye as well, which was the source of the problem of my brain favoring my right to begin with. Astigmatism itself, however, is easily fixed, but they refused to try to do this because they have no idea what to correct my vision to, because my brain automatically doesn't favor my left eye. Thus I am considered legally blind in my left eye... All I see is a blur in it. Had my optometrist been smart, they would have told my parents to patch my right eye right away, for a month, and that would have probably been all it took. My left eye would have adapted, and my vision would be completely different today.

Now, at 28 years old, if I patch my right eye, if I spent maybe a year, patching my eye for three hours a day, I MIGHT improve this problem, with a ton of dedication, but no one really documents whether or not this works.

Anyway, all this aside, to become a really good musician, you need ambition, some natural talent, and a hell of a lot of work. How much of each of these you have depends on the person, but to really succeed, you need to work with what you have, focus on your strengths, and bring your weaknesses up to an adequate level. The earlier you start, the more you can focus, in your lifetime on being the best you can be. This isn't necessary to make music, and if someone gives up just because they didn't have that early shot, well that's a real shame. As long as you're alive, you're not missing the boat.

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In my opinion, getting posted on OCR means you know what you're doing and now the community knows too.

IMO, getting posted on OCR means that you've made a piece of music that passes the standards of this website. It's certainly exciting, especially for someone who's new to writing music/remixes/etc, but I don't really think you need to read into it anymore than that.

Sure it might've been a fluke, but you can look at the fluke, see what made it a fluke and then make other flukes until they're not even flukes; they're the real deal. Next thing you know shell out a few bucks for new equipment and get recruited onto some soundtrack development for an iPod Touch game...

I don't think I really understand how you're distinguishing flukes and "the real deal".

As far as scoring games goes... I feel like there might be some misconceptions about it. I could be wrong here but my impression is that the people around here who have gotten work on soundtracks have been able to from their work on other soundtracks - as in, they started trying to find any small soundtrack work they could, and kept doing more work on soundtracks until they got more high profile jobs. OCR was no doubt critical in developing their skills as an artist, but I think their work on other soundtracks had a lot more of an immediate bearing to getting more work than their mixes on OCR. I could be wrong about this, again, this is just my impression. But the point is, don't expect someone to contact you to score their game because you have a bunch of mixes on OCR. If that's something you want to do, you need to put in hard work to get it, with a lot of luck as well.

Anyways the point is getting posted on OCR is a good goal for getting your music from crappy to great. But once you get posted, your music's great, but it's not the best. Then you just aim to be like Zircon or bLiNd and give it 7-8 years more of experience then you get yourself into a respectable position. :P

There are a lot of people who just do game mixes as a side hobby. Maybe they're already established and skillful musicians in other areas but only have time to do one or two remixes. The amount of mixes a person has doesn't necessarily have a bearing on their skill. And on the flip side - just because a person has continued to consistently make music for years, it doesn't mean that their newer music is better than their older music, or even that they've over that time (though you'd hope they would).

Be excited about the music you're making and think about that. Think less about your status or level of respectability in other people's eyes. That's not really something you can control. I say this because I've made this mistake many times before, and I don't want you to get frustrated when things don't end up coming as easy as you hoped they would.

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For what it's worth, wanting to be a posted ReMixer and make stuff as good as McVaffe was pretty much 95% of my motivation when I started producing music. Sometimes, it's good to have something to shoot for.

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I'll take my own music seriously when I am OCR standards i.e. my music is well produced.

I actually made my first submission back in November, but I'm far better sounding that that trash now, so I'm not looking forward to seeing the judges decision on it... :(

EDIT: Er, December.

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For what it's worth, wanting to be a posted ReMixer and make stuff as good as McVaffe was pretty much 95% of my motivation when I started producing music. Sometimes, it's good to have something to shoot for.

Oh definitely, that's a big reason why I started too. I wasn't trying to say that it was bad - maybe it didn't come out right in my post. I guess I just think you have to enjoy what you're doing for what it is as much as possible. I feel like my tendency is to get too worried about getting other people's approval. I sense that there are a lot of other people out there the same as me. I guess it's not a bad motivation as long as you're realistic about it and try not to let it affect the music you're making. Or at least that's something that I've tried really hard to do.

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i was rejected eight or nine times until i got one through the panel.

Wow, I wish I had your perseverance.

I am very picky when it comes to submitting stuff to the judges. I have a lot of completed mixes but going through the stuff I listen to on here, very few I thought were worth re-doing for OCR.

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Be excited about the music you're making and think about that. Think less about your status or level of respectability in other people's eyes. That's not really something you can control. I say this because I've made this mistake many times before, and I don't want you to get frustrated when things don't end up coming as easy as you hoped they would.

So, so true.

I guess I just think you have to enjoy what you're doing for what it is as much as possible. I feel like my tendency is to get too worried about getting other people's approval. I sense that there are a lot of other people out there the same as me. I guess it's not a bad motivation as long as you're realistic about it and try not to let it affect the music you're making. Or at least that's something that I've tried really hard to do.

I don't have much to add to this, other than to chime in and say "I've been there too." Or possibly, "I'm there now and also working on this." I think loving what you do is the best motivation because then it becomes its own reward, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

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I've been playing in bands since Jr. High, but I never started solo music until three years ago. It took about two years doing solo stuff before I ever really got comfortable with what I was doing. So yeah, only in the last year have I done stuff I really liked.

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IMO, getting posted on OCR means that you've made a piece of music that passes the standards of this website. It's certainly exciting, especially for someone who's new to writing music/remixes/etc, but I don't really think you need to read into it anymore than that.

There are a lot of people who just do game mixes as a side hobby. Maybe they're already established and skillful musicians in other areas but only have time to do one or two remixes. The amount of mixes a person has doesn't necessarily have a bearing on their skill. And on the flip side - just because a person has continued to consistently make music for years, it doesn't mean that their newer music is better than their older music, or even that they've over that time (though you'd hope they would).

Be excited about the music you're making and think about that. Think less about your status or level of respectability in other people's eyes. That's not really something you can control. I say this because I've made this mistake many times before, and I don't want you to get frustrated when things don't end up coming as easy as you hoped they would.

I agree with most of this especially the downplaying of the opinion that people have of you. A lot of people post on these forums and follow the music. A lot of people get posted on OC ReMix and no one ever pays attention to them - it takes more than just getting one mix up, you have to be prolific, productive, and dynamic, as well as involved in the community now.

It's a good end goal, but it takes a long time for music to become intuitive and to recognize what the standards are. It's really easy to deceive yourself into thinking something is awesome just because you made it.

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