One of the hardest hurdles for me to overcome was being a Lazy Producer. I admit, from time to time I still have my moments where i will fall right back into the same lazy patterns:
Not labeling my sends, not changing the colors of my tracks in my DAW, or playing out a melody but not immediately going back to make sure the notes were properly aligned and in time.
I always told myself “I’ll get to it in the next step” or “thats something for me to do in the post-production” and my favorite one “I’ll go back before I bounce it down and fix it” but I would rarely go back and fix the problems.
I recently found myself remastering an EP one of my artists and I made. While listening to the original takes of the tracks, I ended up cutting two songs out of the 6 because the actual instrumental was just trash to me. Though it sounded alright, and the mix was on point, small details like the note alignment or improper phrasings would make me cringe. Its rather obvious to me that this project was started and finished around the time I was making the push OUT of the Lazy producer phase and became someone that took my production time more seriously.
Today I would like to share how I overcame the “Lazy Producer Phase” and started getting more out of my time in the studio.
ATTENTION TO DETAILS
It’s so easy to say to yourself “I can label that later” or “thats something for me to do in post-production” but the truth is the MOMENT you identify a problem with your track or mix, fix it!!
To me, a producers workflow makes all the difference. Getting into a good workflow groove helps ensure you’re going to start and finish more projects without over worrying about unnecessary things.
Note alignment is NOT an unnecessary thing to ignore.
Find a time in your composition and producing phase to fix small cosmetic problems with your project because those small issue will build up and before you know it, they will become too much of a hassle and you run the risk of walking away from the project all together.
Problems will start to build over one another. At first you may only need to change one track but if you sit on it for too long, every line recorded afterward WILL be misaligned in their own way and each line will have to be solved individually. Take the time to fix every line when you’re done with that tracks’ recording and before you add any effects.
Add appropriate names to Tracks, bus sends, aux tracks, groups, clips—— label EVERYTHING! Putting like-sounding instruments together in the mixer, creating track stacks and groups and assigning a color codes to each stacks or groups in your projects will also take time away from looking for that particular sound in your projects. This means you can dedicate more time to the completion of said project.
-JUST AN OPINION!
BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
It’s not hard to sit down at your desk to start something new and just wing it until you get what you may be looking for, but too many times have I started to sit down and ‘noodle’ only to bounce from one new project to the next and not actually accomplish anything. One thing i have done that helps me on days when my writers block is especially bad is prearranging the instrumental into different sections. This is especially easy if you know yourself, your equipment and your workflow.
A workflow adds consistency as an attribute. If you consistently compose your songs in the same or a similar manner or style then it would be easy for you, knowing you and your music, to sit back and say “this is clearly my chorus” or “I think this would be a great opening verse.”
Prearranging also cuts back on anything that’s too repetitive. Depending on just how consistent you are you can even add your instruments at this time. I have a few “go-to’s” that are present in most of my projects that fill, about, the same roles from project to project. Now this depends on YOU. Everybody works differently. There are some that may do things differently every time they step into the studio. Although prearranging can still help, it may seem impractical. The way i look at it is IT HAS TO BE ARRANGED AT SOME POINT and there’s no time like the present.
KEEP EVERYTHING ORGANIZED
After any amount of time producing, you will start to notice that things such, as your sound library and projects library/folders, are growing in size at a rapid rate. It’s very easy to sit down at your desk and open projects and close them and never pay any attention to the folders your data resides in. Neglecting the up keep may cause you some serious time and complications in the future, not to mention failing to stay on top of file management may cause your computer to not run as efficiently as you would like. Case in point: a producer who saves all new projects directly to the desktop of their computer runs the risk of tricking the computer into using more resources keeping up what the items on your desktop instead of processing your DAWS’ needs effectively resulting in glitching, distortion and a nasty popping. Here are some tips for managing your data and making sure you machine runs smoothly and effectively when you’re ready to use it.
- Its always recommended your library be save on an external drive. This keeps you from blindly filling your computer with audio files and also stops you from having to make hard choices in the future about what files to keep and get rid of.
Come up with a naming convention for projects and folders that will help you better identify what they are and where they belong.
Be mindful of where you save data and where plugins and libraries are installed.
KNOW your files system and the layout of all your folders.
KNOW YOUR LIBRARY
You never know what you got in your library until find it.
I was upset that I couldn’t find any decent vocal samples on the internet that were great quality, until one day I decided to go through all my audio files from all the libraries I have purchased and sure enough I found over 4,000 vocal samples from various Native Instruments sound packs and drum kits and it BLEW MY MIND!!
From that moment on I made it a point that once in-a-while I would take a production session to just listen to the sounds and instruments and presets that i have already on my computer. This IMMEDIATELY sped up my workflow! Along with setting up favorites, and making note and annotations on the sounds I really liked, now I can almost go to any type of sound in my library and find almost anything I’m looking for for almost any project!
As stated somewhere above, some of these may not apply to you. It completely depends on how you work and your equipment, but the overall message is take the extra time to INSPECT WHAT YOU EXPECT out of yourself and your music. The small details and attention to details are what separate the good producers from the iconic ones.
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