Most of Music Producers don't know the importance of establishing an effective workflow. We stick to the same routines we’ve always followed, knowing that we could be working more efficiently if we just took the time to re-think and address our ingrained practices and habits. Here, are tree surefire tips to help you get past your own to improve and ramp up your productivity at your studio.
With any contemporary producer’s sample library potentially weighing in at terabytes of files, keeping those loops and one-shots organized and easy to navigate has never been more necessary – or challenging.
Create your own folder hierarchy, starting with instrument type at the top (drums, basses, etc.), then genre, tempo or whatever other categories suit best, and filter samples into it as appropriate. It’s not rocket science, but the important thing is that you stick to the system, adding new samples to it as they arrive, rather than letting them pile up in a limbo-like ‘Samples to be sorted’ folder.
Even more important than that when it comes to accelerating workflow is creating and maintaining a template DAW project (or several), with a comprehensive but resource-light set of instruments and effects pre-loaded and ready to go. Having the ability to launch your DAW and immediately lay down, say, a beat, a bassline, a pad and/or a lead synth using a set of tried-and-tested ‘generic’ sounds, means you need never lose that bolt-from-the-blue sonic idea to the distraction and buzzkill of ‘new project’ admin again.
CLEAN THE DUST
Now is also the time to clean it up – and resolve to keep it that way. Throw out anything that’s just collecting dust and doesn’t need to be there (old software boxes, redundant PC components, and other such stuff). Make minimalism and visual tranquillity your goals. If the room itself is looking a bit shabby, clear everything out for a weekend and redecorate; and give some thought to lighting, ideally keeping it relaxed, low and tasteful. If you’ve got space, get some house plants in there, too – greenery calms the mind, which in turn leads to greater creativity.
KEEP YOUR MIXING FRESH
The ‘mix as you go’ workflow seems to have found favor with new producers in recent years, in part because they’ve never known musical life without the convenience of infinite project recall made possible by the software DAW. We wouldn’t want to suggest for a second that this is in any way a bad thing, but if you’ve never tried the traditional ‘start from zero’ method of mixing, you really should.
With your mixed-as-you-went track completed, save out a new version, set all your level faders to zero and pan positions to the centre, reset all your dynamics, EQ and effects processors, and start working the mix up from scratch. Begin by getting the drums sounding great, then add in the bass, then the vocals, and so on. Approaching the mix as its own discrete stage in the production process, with its own timeframe and context, will deliver a very different end result – and quite possibly a better one.