Time Management for Music Makers

Recording Connection grad Isaac Wolfe, VP of Record Plant (Hollywood, CA)

From being someone who’s opening a digital audio workstation (DAW) for the first time, to operating as a seasoned professional, time management is of vital importance to all of us. Everyone deals with distractions, brick walls, and not enough hours in the day. But there are ways to plan those hours out, stay on schedule, and keep from wasting too much time.

Make a Plan

Whether you’re trying to learn Ableton for the first time or you’ve been mixing and mastering for years, you’ll need to stick to a schedule for the month, the week, and on a daily basis. If you have three clients coming into your studio, make sure you have their work queued up and ready to go.

Nothing screams unprofessional like an engineer fumbling around his desktop looking for a file (more on that later). An amateur needs the same attention to detail, just at a different level. Set goals for yourself every day. It could be adding samples to the stage, understanding beats per minute (BPM), and a filing system that’s easy to follow.

When it comes to planning, take your time. Spending a few extra minutes on your schedule could save hours on the back end. That’s when time management really pays off. After all, relaxed and focused is much better than lost and frustrated. Those emotions can negatively impact the quality of your work. Get organized and stay organized so that a cool head can prevail.

File Management

We touched on this little bit earlier. Creating a file system, and sticking to it, will go a long way to saving minutes every hour. Searching for a particular sample or unfinished song – especially with an artist in studio – because you can’t remember the naming structure you used three months ago is not a good look.

It doesn’t have to be difficult and your own filing system may go through a few iterations before you’ve got it the way you want it. Understanding the best naming convention requires thinking of your workflow, your clients’ needs, and the various kinds of projects you work on (as well as all the individual pieces of which they are made). But keep it simple to start: artist/album/song and the date, which is often a crucial bit of info, should make it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.

For beginners learning a DAW, the process can be simplified even further. For optimal efficiency, consider using external hard drives to store your music, keeping your main computer free of clutter.

When You Get Stuck

When you’re creating masterpieces, time has no meaning. It flows right along with you, riding the waves of inspiration. You may have spent four hours on a song but each second was a note of beauty. However, there are going to be those times when inspiration is playing hard to get and you waste a ton of time chasing it.

Or playing with your phone, goofing around on social media, or being distracted by every little thing. You need to turn the phone to airplane mode, hole up somewhere, and just work, push, and grind it out. Will it be great? Maybe. Maybe not. But at least you’ll have something recorded that can be improved upon a few days later with fresh ears.

What might seem like a waste of time today could be a flash of brilliance tomorrow. Although it seems counter-intuitive, taking a break from the process may be all you need. Instead of pounding your head against a figurative wall, consider throwing a tennis ball off a real wall for a few minutes.

Think about what’s missing while concentrating on catching the ball off the rebound. By working different parts of the mind and body, you could dislodge whatever is blocking your mind. Limit this time to 15 or 20 minutes, though – you’re still on the clock after all.

Take Advantage of Down Time

Everybody needs to step back and breathe during a 24 hour period. Going for a jog, playing basketball, taking a long drive – whatever it takes to recharge. You could jumpstart your brain into a new way of thinking, so have your phone at the ready to record yourself talking through a problem. And keep your eyes on the road.

When you’re not in the studio, but still have access to a laptop, this also an ideal time to update your social media. As an established music producer, keeping your brand updated is one of the more important tasks you’ll have during the day. Fans and those in the industry will want to know what you’re working on, so give them a taste.

Even spending the few minutes between sets can give you time to tidy up your work area or studio can give the next session a clean feel, wiping the slate clean so to speak. Music production is almost as much about managing your time as it is working with clients. If you can’t organize your own life, how can you organize the work of a touring act?

Learn In a Live Setting

Recording Connection offers programs in Audio Editing & Music Production, Ableton and Logic Pro Electronic Music Production, Beat Making, and other music disciplines. What sets us apart from 4-year universities or trade schools is the classroom itself: A real-world, working studio where you’ll be mentored by an industry professional.

Our curriculum is based on how studios work on a day-to-day basis. From setting up the studio and running cables to collaborating with touring artists, our externs get experiences, opportunities, and perspectives just not available in a traditional classroom. Ready to Amplify Your Life?

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