Getting Things Done in the Studio

Getting Things Done in the Studio

posted in: Music Production | 0

As a songwriter and producer it can sometimes be hard to finish what we started. I am myself beginning to understand the psychology behind it and have raised my productivity quite a bit. So I want to share some thoughts with you.

I have had a long period of time in my life when I had a hard time to finish projects. Mostly I would get a groove and then either start something new or get the arrangement done mostly up until the first break where my inspiration would totally dissapear. Then I realized there are some principles that have recently helped me finish several projects in a row. The first part is based on the RPM plan by the famous life and business coach Anthony Robbins who have worked with many of the most successful celebrities.

The specific result

First of all get clear with what specific result you want. If you don’t have a goal it’s hard to ever get there. Also set a time frame to be as effective as possible. The more specific the better. Then of course when working with music we have to be open for the creative side of the project. So leave some room for flexibility on how to reach your goal.


when you know what you want to get done the next question to ask yourself is why? To be able to successfully follow through you need to know why you are doing what you are doing. Think in terms of feelings since feelings are the most potent motivator built into the human body. Why is it important for you to finish this project? Without a purpose it’s hard to follow through on anything. For me it was that I longed to work with music again and to do that I needed some reference material.

One thing at a time

I realized that previously I used to start in all ends. I was arranging and writing at the same time I was mixing and mastering. This didn’t get me very far since I was so concerned to make it perfect there was no progress. The order how to build your productions can vary a little bit in the first parts, mostly between the writing and the arranging but this is how I do it. Taking small steps ahead instead of trying to finish everything at once is a key to succeed.

1. Setting up your template

I got a very good tip from the YouTube channel Recordingrevolution which I’m following. It’s about making templates in your music program for the form of your song. I’m using Logic Pro where it’s very easy to set up templates. Analyze your favorite songs in the preferred genre how they are built up. Where is the chorus, verses, breaks? How many bars each? Then insert and name markers in your template at the same positions as the songs you picked. Now you have a form for your song which can be further tweaked if needed.

2. Writing

Now when you have a template you know what to do. You’ve got the structure, which parts and the length of them. If the creativity hits you and you need to change something it’s very easy but many times boundaries equals creativity. So grab your favorite choice of instrument and get the chords, melody and lyrics right.

3. Arranging

Now it’s time for the instrumentation and where everything is going. For me this was a hard part since I wanted all the sounds, fades and effects right. Try here not to worry too much about getting the “right” sounds or the right levels. Just do a rough draft of where you want everything. Use sounds that sounds a little bit of where you want to go but don’t spend time on it. If you want a fretless bass, get a fretless bass. If you need a modern house kick, get a modern house kick but don’t tweak it or look through all you plugins or samples for the best sounding.

4. Producing

This is the part where you look at getting the sounds right, adding effects, sidechain compressors, fades, ad ons, adding variety to make it less boring etc. Producing can many times by the difference between your song sounding like a MIDI backtrack from the 80s or a modern production.

5. Mixing

When the arrangement is up, things are in the right place and you’ve found all the sounds you wanted then it’s time for the mixing part. This is where you fit everything together, put everything in place, clean up unwanted junk or frequencies and give your work a richer and bigger feel.

6. Mastering

The last part is where you not only fit the channels together but do the last tweaks on the overall picture and fit together several songs for an album. If you make a full album the songs should fit together both regarding to volume, frequency spectrum, stereo with etc. The user should be able to listen through the whole production without having to adjust the volume on his or her sound system. This is also where you play with things such as multiband compressor, stereo width enhancer, limiter and final equalization. Many people prefer to get someone else to do this part of the process to get a new set of ears. When you focus for a long time on something it’s easy to loose the big picture. It’s also important during this process to have an acoustically well treated room and good speakers to be able to hear the full frequency spectra. If you don’t have this possibility try your mix in different sound systems or speakers to find things you otherwise may miss. For an easy and cost effective way to get someone to help you check out my blog post on Fiverr.

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