Progress Update February 2017 – NEW Track, How To Study Songwriting And An EDM Case Study

john lavido progress update february 2017

My total fan count grew from 315 to 579, an increase of 83.81%.

The main growth came from Facebook. I invited everyone on my Facebook friends list to “like” the John Lavido Facebook Page. Twitter and Instagram also contributed to the jump.

Most importantly, another 27 people joined the email list. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, the email list is the most valuable asset out of all the various platforms. People say “email is dead”, but it still beats social media in almost every way. While I’ll be growing my fan base on social media, I’ll be paying close attention to the email list as I think it’s a much more accurate measure of how large or engaged my fan base is.

I wrote out 18 songs by hand – with a pen and paper (aka. “lyric hour”).

One of the learning strategies that worked well for me in business and marketing was writing out old advertisements by hand.

I copied out ads with a pen and notepad for an hour a day, for many months. The technique was recommended by one of the world’s greatest copywriters. While it was “simple”, it was hard work. This motivated me to do it, because I knew that most people would read about it but never actually do the exercise (because most people are lazy and want the easy way).

I’m applying the same strategy to learning music production and songwriting.

I’ve remade several songs (including How Deep Is Your Love, by Calvin Harris, and Poison, by Martin Garrix) and I learned a TON!

In January, I focused on lyrics and songwriting. I’d take a song from Rolling Stone’s “Greatest Songs of All Time” list, and write out the lyrics with a pen and paper. In the end, I wrote out 18 songs by hand over January.

Why focus on lyrics and melody?

Because I want to hit the mainstream. In the mainstream, lyrics and melody are more important than the latest sound design techniques. While the production still needs to be top notch, it’s the lyrics, it’s the melody and hook that makes or breaks mainstream songs.

I wrote, sang and produced a new track.

Based on what I learned from copying and analysing some of the greatest songs of all time, I wrote my own song.

Then I sang it, and produced it.

It’s worth point out that I forced myself to make the song as perfect as possible BEFORE I even opened up Logic.

I used my guitar and a notepad to get everything working.


Because I knew that once I opened the DAW, I would stop thinking about the songwriting and start focusing on reverbs, delays, mixing, and so on. Also, I knew that if I could get the song to sound great on the guitar, then it would sound good once I had produced it. On the other hand, if I couldn’t get the song to sound good on the guitar, stellar production wouldn’t help. The production would only highlight the weaknesses.

I’ll be releasing this track in the next few weeks. If you want a sneak peak, check out this Instagram post.

I was featured in a case study on EDMProd.

The last thing worth mentioning from January 2017 is the case study I released with Sam Matla over at EDMProd. Sam was impressed with how much progress I made over the last 12 months.

The reason John has made more progress in 12 months than anyone else I’ve ever seen is because of his systematic/deliberate approach to learning, and that’s exactly what this case study is about. – Sam Matla

Click here to read the case study.

. . .

In February, 2017…

  • Finalise “Your Face” (the new track!) and promote the hell out of it. I have a good feeling about this one.
  • Write another article on deliberate practice after interviewing Anders Ericcson, the world’s foremost expert on learning and elite performance.
  • Start (and probably finish) my next track. It’s almost done. I’ve just gotta add ELY’s vocals in and then it’ll be good to go.

. . .

What’s coming up for you in February 2017? Post a comment below and let me know.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Eliot - February 8, 2017

Hey John! Sounds good.

I’ve also got a track coming soon (like this week) and I have another one in the works as well. I like the preview! A different style from you. I do have one question – are the vocal chops actually in key? If not and that’s the style you’re going for, then cool. I can’t wait for it to come out!

I actually discovered you thanks to EDMProd, so it was good for you to get that post.

    John Lavido - February 14, 2017

    Hey Eliot!

    Sounds good. Send me your track when you’re on. I’d love to hear it.

    The vocal chops in my new track are in key, though they’re a little dissonant. It’ll probably make more sense when the whole track is out 🙂

Donovan Preddy - February 8, 2017

Hey man, heard about you from the Prodcast and I love your approach to learning.

I’m new to the production stuff too and have been teaching myself with an approach thats similar to your lyric transcription process.

To learn how to use Ableton, I’ve been bringing in a song I like and then deconstruct it. So after bringing in the song on the first track, I create another track below that for “Song Structure” where I color code empty midi clips that designate the structure (i.e., intro, breakdown, drop, etc) to give me the “mile high” view of the structure. Then I create a new track for each element I hear (melody, bass, wispy riser thing, etc.) and then within that track I create empty midi clips in the spans of time where I hear them (if this is unclear and you’re interested, I can email you a screen shot some time). Anyway, after I’ve done this, I’m left with a template for the song that I can then create my own song from by filling those empty midi clips with my own ideas.

Think of it as paint-by-numbers production.

There are several benefits to this approach. First, it enables me to get songs to completion really quickly (avg time for song = 2 weeks spending about 1hr/day @ 3-4 days per week), making moments of success more plentiful! Second, it allows me to focus on one part of production at a time (i.e., learning how Ableton’s features all work) while not worrying about about composition (although I do learn about it passively).

I’ve done this about 6 times over the last few months and have learned a TON by being really focused with my time.

One thing I’m struggling with is what the next phase in my “programming” (to use weightlifting terms) could be. Do I keep deconstructing/rebuilding songs till I reach some sort of comfort or switch to another activity?

Any advice on how to level-up from here?

    John Lavido - February 14, 2017

    I LOVE this approach Donovan!

    I’m gonna try it out on my next track. I’ve studied songs closely, but I’ve never used them in the way that you have. I think it’s an awesome idea.

    As for how to figure out what’s next, I think there are 2 important questions…

    1 – What do you WANT to study? Do something you enjoy. I think I’m going to study singing soon, not because I need to to be a producer or DJ, but because I’m interested in it.

    2 – What’s the biggest limiting factor between you and your goal? Get feedback from a few people on your latest tracks. Is your mixing good enough? Is your sound design boring or interesting? How about the overall composition? The chord progressions? Try to figure out what’s holding your tracks back. While the templated approach probably solves a lot of problems, you’ll still have challenges with mixing, sound design, composition, hooks, and so on. Find out what’s holding your songs back, ideally based on industry people’s feedback (try, and then create practice routines to address those limiters.

    Let me know if you need additional clarification.

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