The art of making beats is one of those things that leave you feeling ultra creative. Let's not forget how fun making beats is. Like most good things in life there is a snag to music production. Before you know it, you end up doing a lot of “tasks” before, during and after the creative process that take up your time.
As I was doing some maintenance I realized that there are some tips I'd like to share which will help all independent musicians, especially those that have limited time and would rather spend it making music.
1. Back Up!
I'm sure you know one person who has lost an entire project or their whole system and didn't have a backup. With technology, software and online options there is no excuse to not back up.
Have a completely separate hard-drive for backup purposes. If you have a project, having a DVD or two for backing up wouldn't hurt. What I also recommend is to use a cloud service if you have access to a reliable internet connection. I use my Google Drive, Box.net and Dropbox for these purposes. They are all free at first but if you require more space there are payment options for more space.
2. Organize your Samples.
A great way to streamline the creative process of music production is to organize your samples. This way you'll be able to find the sound you want quicker which means you'll be able to get to that pattern sooner, to establish the groove etc.
There is no “correct” way of organizing it but make sure you're consistent, especially if you use more than one DAW. Some possibilities are to save as type of genre / BPM / the key or even the mood.
No matter what type of beat you're working with, there are some bus routings and channels you'll definitely use. In some cases there are some instruments that you'll definitely use. Set up several templates to cater for the most common of scenarios you have.
For my latest four catalogs, I had instrument based ideas, therefore the instruments were the same or similar per beat in each catalog. Having reverb and delay send channels done in advance will save time.
4. Clean and prep your studio
Nothing is as irritating as having no space to move the mouse except for going to a session where the studio space is in need of some TLC. Clean your desk area and remove the unnecessary objects. Anyone that has made a beat will know that you spend hours on hours sitting down. With that said, investing in a good seat that supports your back and is comfortable is a plan.
5. Standardise tracks with names & colours
When you are doing a lot of different projects at the same time, it helps to have the same track names for the channels that are similar. An example would be “DRUMS”, to take it even further, using the same colour coding will help.
I route all my drum hits to a channel called “Drums” and colour it red. Vocals are dark blue, pianos are sky blue and so fourth. This helps a lot when you have to go back in time and re-mix an old project.
6.Label the gear
Like the previous point, standardise and label your hardware. I have two pieces of gear that I use.
An example would be to make the first fader, buttons and rotating knobs connect to a function on the drums. Fader-Level ; Buttons- Mute and/or Solo; Rotating Knobs- Pan. If you're working with a lot of hardware then labeling cables is also a good idea.
Shortcuts really save time. Learn them. All DAWS have tons of shortcuts and I suggest learning most of them or at least the ones that you use the most.
Another benefit with the common shortcuts is that they are pretty much similar with all DAWs, like the space-bar (I bet you said what it does in your head). Another one is the number 0. I can't stress how this “unnecessary” tip helps speed things up.
With a lot of music production being done on the computer, it's really easy to get distracted with social media and all the other goodies that come with the internet and a PC. I recommend you unplug your internet and if it's really tough, have a separate hard-drive/partition of windows which doesn't have any games, used only for productivity.
Set goals for the day, week and month. Setting aside 10 mins to prepare for a session in writing is time well spent. Having it written down helps fight the procrastination. Allocate times to daily tasks to keep you on schedule.
If you have anything you do that helps streamline your music production or would like to disagree or agree please feel free to hit me up on Whatsapp at 0835709602 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org