1. Prioritize your goals at the beginning of every session.
Spend a few minutes before you get started by listing out what you want to achieve i.e. improve the kick, find a new hook etc… it will get you focused for the tasks ahead and stop you from getting sidetracked.
2. Wake up earlier or stay up really late.
Waking up even early or staying up later can give you more productive time. Think about it – how many people will disturb you when everyone’s in bed?
3. Remove all distractions.
Run your studio through a dedicated studio computer. That means stripping everything down so it runs perfectly. There should be no internet browser or games installed. How often do you get distracted by your emails, Facebook notifications, text messages, and phone calls right now? Solve the problem! Get a dedicated machine and put your phone on silent until you’ve finished your studio work.
4. Find somewhere different to produce.
Working in the studio all day, every day, can get monotonous. Look for new places to work once in a while. Take your laptop with you to the local coffee shop, park, restaurant, or go in the wilderness, and see that creativity flow.
5. Take frequent breaks.
If you work too hard for too long, your brain gets overwhelmed and your productivity can drop off significantly. Take quick five or ten minute breaks frequently throughout the day to stay fresh and focused.
6. Make sure you’re getting enough rest.
It’s hard to sleep when you’ve got so many ideas running through your mind, but more hours don’t necessarily mean better productivity. Successful producers know that not having enough sleep can reduce your ability to focus.
7. Do some collabs/invite friends around.
Sometimes two minds are better than one. Banter in the studio can help your performance and actually boost your creativity. It’s also great to have another pair of ears around when you’re producing.
8. Plan how much time you need to do things.
Plan out how much time each item should take. It’s easy to drift along and spend a whole day fine tuning a kick, but when you’re working to a schedule, you’re encouraging yourself to be more productive. This can also mean you get things done quicker.
9. Don’t be a purist. Delegate some tasks to other people.
It’s pretty hard to be an all rounder. The best artists out there have engineers to help with mixdown’s and mastering. Some artists don’t actually get involved with the actual productions and are just there to guide the engineer. Stop thinking you have to do everything yourself and encourage yourself to get better as time goes along. You may get some satisfaction from knowing you mixed and mastered your own tune – but how does it compare to the sound of the pro’s? A good clean sound is vitally important. Anybody can have a great idea but poorly executed mixes will reduce your chances of getting DJ support, and you may end up being ignored. If you want to get signed to the bigger labels, get a better sound.
10. Ask for feedback.
Ask your friends, fellow producers, DJs, label managers, promoters etc… about the things they think you can improve on. They may offer ideas you haven’t considered before. Be receptive and open to the feedback. Don’t get hurt about it. Also, put the feedback in perspective. One person doesn’t necessarily have all the answers. So if you’re getting the same feedback from everybody, then you know it’s something you need to focus on.
11. Set designated times throughout the day for checking email.
Email and social networking can eat up significant portion of your day. By setting designated times, you’ll keep yourself from being overly distracted with current affairs, drama, questions, fan mail etc…
12. Set aside some time non music related stuff.
Make sure you still have time for hobbies, friends, and family. Life isn’t just about making music. Go out walking. Breathe in some fresh air. You’ll be more refreshed and energised when you get back in to the studio.
13. Keep your goals in mind.
Do you have some goals about where you want to be? When do you expect to achieve them? Narrow down your specific goals and put them in writing so you can focus on making tangible steps toward them. Review them often so you can see how you’re progressing.
14. Eat well
Living off a junk food diet, caffeine and alcohol won’t keep you or your mind in shape. Studies have shown that eating well-balanced meals will help you to think more clearly. A healthy body is a healthy mind. So try and look after yourself, that’s unless you’re into making dirty music
15. Keep track of your finances.
It doesn’t seem like the most glamorous part of being a producer, but you need to keep track on how much money is coming in. Try and balance that up against how much you’re spending on gear, clubbing, networking. Are your nights out helping you make progress? Has that £2000 studio upgrade helped improved your sound? Like Chris from Hybrid said this week, try and be more business like. Operate like a professional. Think income vs expenditure. Spending too much and making/gaining too little? Then you may need to refocus.
16. Educate yourself
Make sure you read the manuals. Take some online training. Get some advice from other people in the industry. Hire a studio coach. Learn how to do things more quickly and efficiently. Things will seem more natural in the studio when you know what you’re doing. Try and learn how to become a proper musician and read music. The higher up you get, the more pro you’ll need to become.
17. Do the hardest things first.
If you’ve got a remix that you’re not looking forward to it, that’s the item that needs to be done first. Keep yourself from procrastinating and get it done.
18. Club less
While it’s important to get out there and socialise, think about all the time you’re losing recovering from an all weekend session. Are 5 day music conferences an effective use of your time? Are there other ways to build new contacts? It’s okay to let it go every so often but don’t think fool yourself that going clubbing every weekend is going to make you more successful or have more ideas. You may get laid more often though
19. Listen to your music on monitors, headphones, car stereos hi-fi speakers, in clubs…
It’s essential to hear how your music sounds on different systems. You should always give your ears some time to recover from a pounding. Sometimes listening on earbuds or studio headphones reveals new details and helps you to solve problems in the mix. If your music is sounding good across every system, then you can be pretty sure your audience is going to appreciate it.
20. Create your own sound
Forget what everybody else is doing and do your own thing. Create your own genres. Don’t care about what people think. Good music is good music. Big name DJs are always on the look out for new and edgy stuff for their sets. Think about the situation on Beatport with thousands of mediocre tracks getting released every week. Think about the label managers that are having to sift through hundreds of tracks each week. Take a look at what everybody else is doing and do the exact opposite. Be your own person. Stay true to your beliefs. If you’re good at what you do and can build the right contacts, then it’s only a matter of time…
Got any more cool tips? Let us know about them. Have fun out there!