Work Smarter and Faster – How to Use Speed in Your Workflow and Get Organized
We all have that one track that we’ve spent what feels like a lifetime on. It’s that piece that we work at consistently but can never seem to get it totally finished. Often times the reason is simple – we’ve probably just heard it too many times. Speed is the best way to conquer this type of hurdle but being faster isn’t always a straightforward and easy thing to do. One thing I’m sure that will help anybody pursuing a career in music (and really any career for that matter) is incredibly basic and usually underutilized – Organization.
Read below to get some great tips on how to organize your projects and workflow a little bit better. By following this checklist and organizing yourself you’ll be sure to see some improvement in the speed at which you are completing your ideas.
Goals give us a point of completion. They help us to know that we’re headed in the right direction. So what do you think your overall goal is? What is your dream? Do you see yourself DJing for a packed crowd at EDC? Maybe traveling the US playing intimate shows with a live band? Maybe you see yourself growing a social media following and singing on a streaming service. Whatever you think your dream may be, it will involve making music. Making great music is the goal underlying your dream. So lets break our goals down and really define them by answering a few questions:
Who are you making music for? Is it for yourself as an artist? Is it for your band? Is it for your alias? Is it a collaboration? Is it for another artist? Once you know who you are making music for you can think about the image a little bit more and how to incorporate that into the music. If you were getting paid to write music for big artists you probably wouldn’t write the same music for Ariana Grande that you’d write for Lil Peep. Also, don’t forget to keep in mind who you think will be listening to the music.
What are you going to make? Will it be a single, a remix or an album? Did you just release an album? Time to get out a single! Did you just release a few singles that are doing well? Let’s talk about an album! Trying to get started from the bottom? Remixes are always a good way to get you noticed! It’s important to have a plan when releasing music, that way you have some destination to always work toward.
When are you going to release this? SET A DATE! This is so so so important. Give yourself a deadline. The people that are really succeeding in the music industry are disciplined. They have plans. We always hear about the artists who are “blowing up” and releasing tons of great music when in reality they might have been building up a huge collection of music to release over time. You can be more strategic than this too! Think about festival season. Maybe you’re making a trap anthem that you’re sure would go hard if an artist like Slander dropped it in his set. Figure out when the next big festival is and release the track about three weeks before. Spend the rest of the time promoting it and finding ways to either reach out or get connected with the artists playing at those events. Timing is everything in this industry.
Where are people going to listen to your music? Online? Clubs? On headphones? In their car? At a festival? You may want to approach your mixes differently depending on where you want people to listen to them. There’s a really interesting episode of Pensado’s Place you can watch here where 40 (Drake’s Producer) is talking about how he mixed ‘Headlines’ for a laptop, as opposed to a club, and how that helped propel the song to number 1 on the charts.
How do we get things moving? We do it by being prepared beforehand. You need your toolkit ready. If you had a leaky sink and a plumber showed up without any gear to fix it you’d probably think he was crazy. You expect your plumber to show up prepared to work on your sink so you need to hold yourself to the same standard. So how can you be prepared?
- Build drums racks. Compile your most commonly used samples, edit them to your taste and save them in a drum rack. You can even map the pitch of the instruments to a macro nob so you can adjust the pitch and keep everything in key.
- Save presets. Spend some time playing around and coming up with new sounds. Categorize what you came up with and save them to instrument racks so you can easily access them in the future. Try having leads, pads, plucks, real instruments, pop sounds, hip-hop sounds, electronic sounds, experimental sounds, and whatever else may help you.
- Create audio effects. A common one I see a lot of people use is called “Easy Wash Out”. You can download it here if you’re an Ableton user. Having your own audio effects is going to help give you a particular sound so think about drum processing, buildups, breakdowns, vocals, parallel compression, harmonics, and many other qualities you want to put your unique sound on.
Why make schedules, plans, and goals? Why turn this creative passion into a methodical calculated project? Making music is a thousand times more fun than an office job, that’s why. In all seriousness though, it’s great to be ultra creative and passionate about your art, but in order to be successful with it you’ll probably need to be organized so that you can be efficient, so that you can release more music, so you can get a bigger following, so you can play more shows and have a lot more on your plate. When you have more on your plate you’ll again need to be even more organized so that you can be even more efficient, and so on. There’s a quote I hear all the time from the Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk: “Micro Speed, Macro Patience”. It’s important to be really quick and efficient in-the-moment but remember that things take time. Try not to get discouraged with how long it feels like things take. Just keep finding ways to move as quickly as possible, don’t feel like you’re taking too long or should be somewhere you’re not, and eventually you’ll get to where you want to be.