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Why "Don’t" is better than "Do"

Uniformly speaking, everybody wants success. And everybody believes that they have some formula to get them there. In more than 25 years of being a "professional music" creative, I’ve come to learn one universal truth. The things you DON’T do can be even more impactful than the things you Do do.

I just said "do do." Kindergarten Justin would be so pleased!


But it’s the DON’T "do’s" that can start manifesting your momentum, transforming your trajectory, and opening up your opportunities.

Here are five DON’T’s that you definitely should DO!


By Justin Gray (Songwriter/Producer/Founder MDIIO)

Don’t Overanalyze - Almost every creative I know overanalyzes. Do you question decisions and anticipate an outcome that hasn’t even happened yet? That is often the way people describe anxiety. Predicting an outcome for an event that has yet to occur. It takes a lot of discipline to know how to avoid over-analysis of your music as you’re writing it. Trying to keep your mind open as the song is being created gives you that space to explore where it can go creatively. So don’t over-analyze too early...you could be blocking your greatness! Anyone who has written with me has heard me say "Don’t think…just do." We can think about it later.


Don’t Overproduce - Just because we have every sound available to us known to man, doesn’t mean that we should use them all in every recording that we do. Imagine describing a song as a conversation between friends. The drums, the bass, the piano, the vocals, and the melody. They all have something important to say, and they all want to be heard. But when everybody is speaking at the same time, nobody can understand anything. The classic mistake is overproducing your song or your demo. Especially when listening to music today, you will notice that there is an innate simplicity in how it is presented to the listener. It’s important to understand that somebody listening to your song may not be as sophisticated musically as you are.


Don’t Compromise - Don’t accept good enough as good enough. The odds of anything that you do breaking through are already stacked against you. But when you settle, get bored, or lose interest in what you’re working on, you open yourself up to accept mediocrity as an acceptable outcome. Despite popular demand, mediocre music never cracks through in a meaningful way. When you are a new creator, up-and-coming Songwriter/Producer, or even an independent artist, it’s even more difficult to gain the ear and the trust of new fans. The harsh reality is that we need to be better than what’s already out there to steal someone else’s attention away and point it in our direction. Being average, won’t help. You are special…so prove it!

Don’t Give Up - Winners never quit, and quitters never win. Sorry for the corny cliché. Here’s another one. The cream always rises to the top. But this one is less true. The truth is that the disciplined and focused cream will always rise to the top. I believe that the success formula is 70% discipline, 20% talent, and 10% timing. Giving up, is a sign of that lack of discipline that is so crucial in anybody’s inevitable success. Regardless of whether you want to be a songwriter, an artist, or a baker…the beauty of discipline applies to every facet of your life.

Don’t say "Yes" all the time - Definitely say yes often, but not always. We have a limited amount of bandwidth and live ever busier lives. Our creative schedules to be able to focus and dedicate to our pursuit of excellence can always find competition with other priorities. I’m a big believer in saying yes, but in my experience, saying yes all the time has limited me to the accidental opportunities that have presented themselves. There’s nothing worse than missing a life-changing opportunity because our time is obligated elsewhere.


The Coda:

This blog could’ve easily been called "Why DO is better than DON’T." Maybe I should do that next week. But the truth is, we always hear "do this," or "do that," and you’ll be successful. But too often it’s understanding how denying certain behaviors ingrained in all of us can have an equally and in some cases more positive impact on our dream chasing. So what is it that you are not going to do this week?

See you next week, and keep writing those hits! Justin@mdiio.com