Author: Dermot O'Sullivan

Quantity Over Quality: Mastering your craft in making art

Last year, my wife suggested I read the book Art & Fear, and this fundamentally changed my approach to making music. There’s a section in the book that illustrates that it’s better to think about quantity rather than quality when approaching creative work. The act of finishing a piece of work, even if you don’t think it’s great, teaches you about your own artistic process and the many steps that are involved in going from start to finish. This means we must strive to finish as much work as we possibly can, rather than obsessing over a single perfect piece (which we’ll probably never achieve). When we do this, we will get much closer to mastery of our craft at a much faster rate.

Art & Fear:

Feedback Friday on Discord (Recap)

Sharing a few bits from last week’s first #feedbackfriday, a livestream where I critique demos in real time. I really enjoyed this, and I was glad to see in the Discord chat that many of you found it valuable as well. It’s hard enough making yourself vulnerable to critical feedback privately, so having me critique your work in a public forum is a win in itself. One unexpected upside was two of the tracks submitted were heard by a label owner and were offered to sign!

I wish I had enough time to make it through all the submissions, but fear not, I will do another one of these in a month. Also, if you subscribe at the “My Dear Hotdog” tier on Patreon, I can ensure that your track will be prioritized next time around. Be sure to hang out in my Discord server for updates around the next one, both Patreon and Discord links here:

A new hope

This is an extract from Atish’s Hotdog Mailer. Sign up to the mailing list here.

Hey Hot Dogs,

Long time no email. Hope you’ve all been grand. Big update on my end, I had a son! Say hello to Zian Singh Mehta 🙂 My capacity for love has extended beyond what I ever thought was possible. 

Having a child in middle of a pandemic has its share of challenges, but overall the timing of Zian’s earthly arrival has never been better. I love spending nearly every moment with this kid. If I step out of the house to run an errand, I dearly miss him and want to rush home. I can’t imagine having to get on a flight to play gigs while this cute little bug is cooing and babbling at home. I’m oddly grateful for this unexpected pandemic upside.

It’s interesting how having a kid has guided me towards looking at society from a new lens. My thought process usually begins by thinking about how it’s CRIMINAL to not have mandated parental leave in the US. I then reflect on stratified access to health care, day care, and quality education – all compounded by our gridlocked political system, polarized culture wars, inability to handle and prepare for crises (pandemic, climate, cybersecurity, energy infrastructure), taste for authoritarianism, and the preponderance of misplaced distrust in facts and institutions.

I feel quite a bit of dread about the world in which my son will grow up. This system is devoid of empathy, compromise, civility, and rationality – values I hold dearly.

I’m desperately searching for any calculation that we’re not heading towards a failed state, but it’s honestly a struggle. Though the bright side is perhaps counterintuitive: my inability to visualize us digging ourselves out of these moral holes may itself be a sign towards the solution. Gen Z and Gen Alpha are much smarter, more capable, and faster to iterate than my fellow Millenials (and older). They are thinking about the world in ways that I may never comprehend…perhaps our minds that created these problems simply aren’t equipped to solve them.

So the next time I think “kids these days, what the fuck are they thinking”…and as adolescent Zian and I inevitably get into fights…I’ll hold on to the idea that my objections to their values, lifestyle choices, and priorities may just be indicators that they are on the right track towards fixing what we are destroying. No pressure Zian, but my faith in you is my sliver of hope for humanity.

Working with a record label Vs. Self-releasing music

In my previous video, I discussed the best way to submit your demos to record labels to maximize the chance of getting a response. But the truth is, working with record labels can really suck. For this video, I’ll discuss the up and downsides of working with labels and the tradeoffs against bypassing labels and releasing music on your own.

Demo Submissions: Increasing your success with record labels

Submitting demos to music labels is one of most nerve wracking parts of building an artist career since most labels never respond, let alone listen to our demos. I wanted to share a few small suggestions from a label manager’s point of view that can increase your chances of getting your music heard, and hopefully signed.