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Workflow is almost a way of life, it’s something that happens before you even drag a kick into your project, it’s commonly cited as one of the most important elements of music production.Itemised as an everyday method that help producers get their work done, workflow is often illustrated in a sequence of important steps that improve creativity, speed, enjoyment and the all-important ability to finish a record.
Too many producers spend way too much time messing around with insignificant details without seeing the bigger picture, but the producers who have honed their craft through cutthroat workflow, will tell you it makes whole world of difference!
It makes perfect sense. When writing you’re going to want to get the ideas from your head down into your project as fast as possible, right? Many believe it’s when you create your best work. However, the only way to achieve this is to have your workflow mapped out to its fullest extent.
In today’s article we’ve compiled a list of workflow tips and tricks that are proven by producers to increase productivity and creativity.
If you want to get the most out of your production, be it a hobby or a career, setting aside time to write beats is essential. Working at 20-minute intervals here and there throughout the day is not conducive to a worthwhile production session, in most cases you’ll rarely produce any tangible results and you will more often than not find yourself frustrated at your results.
We’re not saying that you have to have a rigorous strategy that must be perpetuated come hell or high water, but using a calendar to rule out time slots for sessions never hurt anyone. In fact, dedicating blocks of your time to production (especially when 60 minutes or longer) will help you further devote yourself to the highly sought after “In The Zone” state of creativity.
The goal is for any producer is to combat creative blocks and maximise your output, and putting a time marker on each of your tasks is a great way to push yourself into a creative space. If you can get hold of an app, or even use the timer functionality on your phone, then try putting a time limit on your common production tasks like jamming, EQ, compression etc, depending on how much time you wish to dedicate.
Task-based production is a very simple theory, but it certainly helps to producers put the effort into the planning process, which is immensely helpful and logical.
Oh, that classic line! We know it’s painful. But honestly, creating a personalized music production library is one of the most worthwhile things that you can do as a producer, you might even find it fun once you get going.it will save you an unimaginable amount of time.
You will no longer find yourself sifting through randomly named folders and you’ll more than likely stumble across some gems you forgot you even had. Back everything up, build a file system, and organise your file structure so that you can access them without even having to think about it.
Even better, create a “favourites” folder, for those moments when you have an idea and you need to get it down ASAP. These moments are precious and you most definitely don’t want to spend 20 minutes searching for a “perfect” snare sample, in that time your great idea being lost in the ether.
Creating folders for your favourite drums, chords, leads etc will always help you get a vibe going, even if you opt to change them at a later stage.
Another great workflow tip that’s based around the creative side of music writing involves opening your mind to all creative stimulus in the early stages of production.
When jamming, try not to think about what you’re doing, just do it. Messing around and trying new things that you wouldn’t otherwise opt for puts you in an open state, where creativity flows. Being critical of your work from the start can put you in a closed state, which in the early stages of production when writing and trying out different sounds – is not favourable to a creative output.
Always keep a notepad or recorder with you to jot down ideas, tunes or riffs that come into your head. A notepad that can help you write useful instructions and directions that occur often when deep into a production session, that you might not want to implement then, but wish to come back to it later.
One of the biggest challenges producers face when they sit down to start a new project is trying to do everything at once. Trying to fine tune your lead synthesiser whilst tweaking the semitones of your kick drum before you even have an idea, is one of the most unproductive ways to work.
Everyone has a different workflow when it comes to ordering each section of their work, but in doing so you will save yourself a great deal of time, and find that you actually start finishing your songs, rather than wasting half an hour tweaking your bus settings when the project never even see’s the light of day.
The way we like to work is jam > arrange > mix
This involves us getting down as many melodies, chords, synth lines as we can, whatever fits the spec of the project.
Get this down as soon as possible! Having an arrangement locked down soon after your happy with a loop is imperative if you want to be in with a chance of finishing it.
Is everything else that comes before mastering, EQ, balance, etc.
In reality, everyone has a different approach when it comes to music creation. These guidelines offer a few alternative approaches to help you finish your tracks considerably quicker.