Consistency is the biggest problem every producer faces during the majority of their career. Relying on bursts of creativity isn’t going to pay out in the long run, and forcing yourself to be productive every day can be frustrating if you don’t create the right environment or if you don’t know the most effective ways to get started on new projects.
Being productive doesn’t mean waking up and having a whole new track by the time you go to sleep. There are so many smaller things that add up in your music project over time.
Let’s see how you can keep the wheel spinning with ease.
Create your templates
Starting out from a blank project is torture to most people. Computers have the duty to make our lives easier, and spending some time to create a solid starting point for our sessions is the best investment you can do.
Don’t waste time setting up drum samples, chains, routing, new synth patches and so on every single time.
If you are a beatmaker, for example, and you’re into Hip Hop beats, create one or two templates and use them to lay down your idea as quickly as possible.
You can always spend some time later to fine-tune drums, find a better bass patch, or whatever, but at least you’ve dealt with the most precious step with ease, which is imprinting your idea into your DAW.
If you’re into multiple genres, this practice becomes even more precious because you don’t want to bother with looking for the “almost-right samples” every single time, especially if they’re stored in different places.
Create your sound library
Templates generally need some sounds loaded on it, and having a selection of trusted sounds will save you a lot of time scrolling through samples every single time.
Also, having a selection of sounds helps with building your sound, which will be consistent from track to track.
Sound design sessions
There will be times when ideas just don’t spark, so are you going to look at the screen the whole time? Please, don’t.
Take that lack of creativity as an opportunity to focus on something more technical like sound design. If you always wanted to improve your signature 808, then do it!
If you wanted a hard-clipped version of your drum kit for harder vibes, then do it!
If you don’t have a producer tag yet, record some and see how you can spice it up with effects.
Try new plugins/features
The internet is plenty of free (or affordable) good stuff, so go and try them out. You might find out the next tool to use in the majority of your tracks.
If you already have a good bunch of trusted tools, take some time to study them inside out and see if there’s any feature that you’ve been ignoring all this time.
Fix your worst tracks
Do you have some forgotten tracks on your hard disk that you don’t want to work on ever again? You might be making a great mistake.
Of course, you have to discern crappy stuff from stuff that still has some potential and that was limited by your previous skillset.
Sometimes, fixing a track might be as simple as changing the drum samples, adding a couple of FXs to the melody, adjusting a couple of levels, or shaking up the rhythm a bit.
Inspiration can seem to strike out of nowhere, but there are some ways to evoke it. Listening to music is probably the simplest way to get that fire burning and jump onto your DAW.
Try mimicking a vibe, learn nuances that make that style work, and make treasure of them for your tracks to come.
Otherwise, another way to set a guideline for your new track is to rely on visuals and follow them with your music.
Tik Tok has become a giant because it allows mixing music with visuals, allowing for both to earn a new meaning or enhance each other.
Take some time to mix your tracks properly, or if you want to get a grasp of genres you aren’t familiar with, download some multi-tracks and make them shine.
Take them as opportunities to experiment with new processing chains that you can later replicate on your own tracks. Remember that not everything must sound like the genres you’re into.
If you don’t know where to look for tracks to mix, here’s an article with all the links you need.
Start from a loop
Loops are often seen as the death of creativity, but that’s not what most old-school producers have proved.
If you can’t come up with a decent guitar loop yourself, why give up if you can download one and sew the rest of the track around it?
Sometimes, you can even start from a loop to end up taking it away and replacing it with something else once the rest of the production is done.
There has been a period where most people wanted to claim that a track was exclusively their intellectual property, but there’s an increasing trend of producers are involving more and more writers to come up with the best version possible of their idea.
Ever wanted to take an insanely angry song and chill it down with some lo-fi vibes?
Revisiting pieces of music is somewhat similar to starting creating tracks from a loop, but if the song you’re remixing is popular, then you have some incentive at doing extremely well and also an opportunity to get your name out there by releasing it (beware copyright issues though).
Use the Pomodoro technique
Being productive doesn’t mean being a robot. Robots don’t need rest because they rarely put in creative effort. We as humans have the luck and the duty to be creative, but that comes at the cost of our mental energy.
Science has proved that taking small breaks periodically helps us maintain a high level of performance over a longer period of time rather than forcing ourselves for longer sessions.
The Pomodoro technique consists of alternating working sessions of 25 minutes with rest sessions of 5 minutes. After a bunch of working sessions, you can take a longer pause, and then start again until you’re down with your task.
If you think that 20 minutes of rest over 2 hours of work is a waste of time, imagine needing an hour or more of rest to become really productive again after you’ve worked non-stop for two hours.
If you work in Ableton, you can download this Max for Live device, otherwise, use the timer on your phone or download an app.
If you’ve found these tips helpful, then you’ll appreciate all the knowledge we’ve packed into Workflow, a bundle comprising a plethora of resources to become a more efficient producer!