What this post is about is how to approach how much you should contribute to an artistic project whether that be a song, movie, drawing, jam session etc.
I think for an aspiring artist knowing the correct way to mentally approach what you should contribute to the final project is important so I’m going to give you my personal philosophy on how to correctly do this.
I want to discuss is how much you should contribute to a artistic project in terms of quantity.
Let’s use a song as an example, many people will think they need to write at least 16 bars no matter the song in order to have it be a full verse. I believe this is the wrong approach.
What you should be doing is asking yourself how much open space there is in the song and how you can fill in that open space in the best way possible. This could be by just doing a short skit in the intro or outro of the song and not actually recording a verse or doing a refrain.
It could even be just contributing some adlibs in a pause in someone else’s verse that helps to fill in a in their flow.
The point I’m trying to make is that you should be asking yourself what the particular project needs not what pre-set criteria you have in your head before ever walking into the room that you feel you need to fulfill.
Maybe someone has a single solid verse on a beat they made and wants you to fill in the rest of the song with a couple verses + a refrain.
A friend of mine’s father is a talented jazz musician and I asked him once how he decides what to play. His response was that he listens to what everyone else is playing and adds in whatever he feels is necessary for the overall band to sound good even if he’s just filling in small gaps in the overall sound.
This was a few years ago and him saying that really stuck with me.
A different story, the moment I realized how great Kanye was was the first time I heard Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1. When I first heard that song it completely blew my mind and I’ve listened to it countless times since.
I used to ask myself why his verse on that song was so short.
I wanted him to have a second verse that was as great as the first and for the song to be longer.
In time, I’ve realized that he approaches his art in the way I just outlined. Obviously I can’t know this for sure without asking him, but from listening to his music I believe he likely is never selfish in the studio with wanting to shoehorn more into a project than he needs to.
To wrap this point up, ask yourself what you can do to make the final product the best it can be
1. how you can get the most attention
2. how you can get the most screen time
I think by approaching art in this way you can position yourself to more quickly lead or be a part of projects that are of a high tier in terms of quality.