Production workflow is one of the most important aspects to being a successful producer nowadays, with production software being so easily accessible now, what really separates the professionals from the amateurs lies in your your use of time, organization, how you create a plan, and how you choose to separate the creative process.

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Organization

How your sessions are organized is essential for improving your workflow. There are a few ways to set up a project to help you best conserve screen space, maneuver tracks, go through arrangements quickly, and overall save time.

The first thing you want to make sure you’re doing is to name all of your tracks, you’d be surprised how many people forgot to name anything, and it ends up causing them to have to go through tracks individually to know what each sound is. Waste. Of. Time.

Second idea is to color-code all your similar instruments, tracks, groups, and even clips so you don’t have to waste time and can quickly identify specific sounds. With color coding you can start to get to a point where you can identify specific colors for specific parts of the arrangement. Say you use green for synths, blue for drums, and purple for bass. If you do that on every song you’ll start to become used to that look and it will allow your mental energy to be focused elsewhere.

Finally organizing your user library is a great way to maximize productivity. Creating custom folders for your favorite presets, drum loops, synths, templates, and your favorite samples. You will notice that working on your songs will become drastically easier, if you don’t have to search for that killer kick drum sample, or your favorite vocal compression preset, or a template that allows you to focus on a specific point of the music making process.

Create A Game Plan

When you’re starting out on a project, having an idea of what you want to achieve will help you streamline the process, and allow for less frustration. Knowing what genre you want to produce, what type of sounds will be needed for that, and what type of arrangement you’re using (Pop Structure, EDM “drop” structure), will help save yourself a lot of time in the long run if you spend a little extra time prepping your sessions.

A few Simple ways of doing this. First try creating a custom default template that you can use to kick-start a new idea or song. Having your favorite devices, plugins, bus groups, mixer settings, and track colors will save you time and allow you to jump right into the creative process. Second is Saving as a default track, if you use the same effects on your MIDI and audio tracks, saving them as default will save you time loading in the same presets, devices and patch settings each time you make a new track. And Thirdly setting up a folder where you have default presets will streamline your workflow by allowing you to create a user library where you can save effects, instruments, plugins, and anything else you have preferred settings with.

Separate The Creative Process

When you’re making music on a computer it’s really easy to start to blur the lines between the creative process. Knowing which part of the process you’re on will really help define what decisions you should be making and what (RIGHT NOW) you should be spending time and effort on. For an example you don’t want to get involved with more engineering based tasks like mixing, when you’re not finished with a more creative task such as sound design or arrangement construction.

Let’s take a brief look at what the creative process looks like;

Composition is the first stage and this relates to the creation of the song in terms of melody, rhythm, and harmony. This is the skeleton of your song and establishes what everything else in the process is based on.

The next step in the process is how you’re going to Arrange your song, this is the stage where you decide how many verses you have, do you have a bridge, is there a breakdown, where is the climax of the tune? Changing and adjusting these elements will help build hype in your track, or may even be used to reduce tension.

After this we need to focus on the sounds of your musical content, this stage is known as Sound Design. Sound design is the process of making unique sounds for your musical content, this process is where your song gets its swag and character. Having a unique sound design is going to define and separate you from the rest of the amateur producers, I highly suggest spending time working on unique lead tones, bass tones, and even drum one hits so you don’t have to stop the creative process and switch modes to engineering sounds.

Production is our final stage of creative process before we switch into the more sonic aspects of your song. This part of the process is where you get to add all of your bleeps and bloops, create transitions, and use audio effects to create new musical moments. This is a great transition to the mixing stage,and you can even help prepare for that by deleting unnecessary tracks, and really trimming the fat of your song.

Mixing is the process that brings out the best of your current song, this stage aims to enhance all the elements in the mix, from fixing clarity, to masking frequence issues, panning, adjusting levels, and many more. This process helps sculpt your arrangement while also helping to make sense of all the tracks you have in relation to one another. The goal here is to create a mix that is refined enough to compete with commercial products/releases.

And lastly the last process in the audio production process is Mastering, the main goal of this process is to turn a fully arranged mix into a professional product that is ready for promotion, distribution and performance.

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