Be it producers who overwork their ideas to the point where they focus on the extreme minutia, rather than the big strides early on in the production. Or perhaps those who abandon near finished projects because they are ‘not good enough’.
At Toolroom Academy, one of our fundamental goals is to release our students from the shackles of the ‘Loop Syndrome’, teaching them to develop their ideas further into fully fledged tracks. With the below tips by your side, you’ll be on your way to developing and finalising your tracks for good.
Ask yourself the question, do you too many options when it comes to creativity? Too much choice is overwhelming. One tip that’s lasted through the years and can be applied to many forms of music; limit your tools to the essentials. For example, limit yourself to one or two synthesisers, even better, map your melodies out with piano and select only your favourite few plugins until you’re happy with the direction. Be creative through limitation.
Typically, by nature, us producers love nothing more than busting out a couple of synths and jamming for the entirety of an evening – yes this is productive to some extent but where’s the distinction between a hobby and a profession? If you want to actually finish music and release it, then it’s almost essential that you put a big emphasis on time management. Set themed weeks, figure out when you want to create and when you want to mix. If you have access to a bigger studio, then set some dates in advance on focus on the heavy stuff then and most importantly, force yourself to finish what you started.
Timing yourself is a great way to improve your workflow, which in turn will aid you in finishing your tracks.
Set yourself a series of task-based activities like ‘building a groove’ or ‘creating a synth line’ and give yourself a time limit. Naturally this will force you to get your ideas out and then stick to them, rather than perpetual tweaking.
Setting goals as a music producer seems like a pretty import thanks to do right? It’s also pretty easy! Goal setting helps you create a sense of accomplishment and ultimately incentivises you to crack on with the stuff you need to.
Some short-term goals for music producers tend to be things like:
– Improvisation to find a vibe for my next track
– Put some parts together and arrange
– Mix my track
– Master and test!
Of course you can go into much more depth than this, but setting big strides at the start of the process with help you work towards the small goals.
To kickstart the writing process, it’s often good to strip things back and keep it simple. Don’t waste your time thinking over your ideas and worrying about segments. Adopt the 3 step philosophy of write, arrange, review. No need to mix, just get the ideas out of your head and into your DAW, then evaluate. Even if you’re gut is telling you that what you’re working on isn’t working – push through – you won’t regret it. It’s all experience after all? One finished track is 10 times more valuable than all of your unfinished tracks.
Possibly the biggest reason why you’re not finishing your tracks is because you start getting bored. Getting yourself stuck in the same rotation is boring. Listen to your favourite music, jump on the decks and have a mix, use a reference track, do some sampling – anything that pushes you to break out of your regular production process.