Produce More Music With These 3 Scientifically Proven Tactics
Your projects and recording tasks are pilling up. The producer calls you every hour to check on the progress of your music composition.
It’s beginning to feel like stress isn’t it?
First of all, producing music takes time and effort, lots of them. It requires lots of referencing and inspiration.
If you ever worked on production deadline before, rushing your compositions, squeezing every ounce of your brain while getting only minimal sleep, you’ll know that coming out with great music can be difficult at that moment.
To create great music, most producers spend lots of time working and experimenting.
Great producers, double or triple their productivity level to produce more music at a short notice of time. It’s even worse for a film composer, when getting your music rejected for a scenes becomes a fairly normal thing. Film composers are required to be extremely versatile and fast at producing different variations of music to fit a film scene.
However instead of thinking they failed, they work towards making mistakes as fast a possible to finally produce a piece that is accepted by the producer. There’s a great book on changing the way you think for success, it’s called the The Five Elements Of Effective Thinking.
It’s productivity at high levels that enables great producers to meet their deadlines. We know doing that while staying creatively is tough.
However there is good news. I’m going to give you 3 productivity tactics that you can use today to produce more music creatively faster.
Perhaps you can’t try all of them straightaway, but try one or two, and when you see results, try the others.
1 – Stop Procrastinating And Get To Work
This sounds simpler than it actually is, especially when doing creative work.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. The internet is a distraction. Your smart phone is a distraction.
You can find yourself on Facebook or looking at new VST softwares or loops on the internet, scrolling endless of content and checking out new softwares.
You can’t afford to do that when you’re composing music. If this is something you continually find yourself falling into, I suggest you turn off your internet connection and start getting to work.
Here are two of my suggestions:
#1 – Make Sure You Write Something No Matter How Bad
Do you think prolific composers like John Williams write great music everyday? Even pop artists like Ed Sheeran reported that he has wrote hundreds if not thousands of music pieces that went unpublished. When interviewed, John Williams explained that he writes every single day. No matter how busy his schedule is, he squeezes out some time to write music, no matter how bad it may sound.
“I developed from very early on a habit of writing something every day, good or bad.” – John Williams
The point is, nobody gets it right the first time. Nobody is 100% creative and right all the time. They just get things done.
By simply doing, you force yourself to identify your mistakes faster. There is always room for improvements after that.
So the next time you find yourself in the studio having a writer’s block, force yourself to write or produce anyway. It’s much better than doing nothing, so just do it and fix mistakes later on.
#2 – Try The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique, is a productivity technique made for short bursts of concentration to improve productivity. It is designed to help you cut through procrastination, self-doubt and get super focused.
Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, it has been used till today.
The technique involves using a timer to break down your work into intervals of 25 minutes each, separated by short breaks. It’s claimed that frequent breaks will improve your mental agility. These work intervals are called ‘pomodoros’ which in Italian means tomato.
It’s simple to use the pomodoro technique for producing music. Here’s what you do.
- Decide on the work or task that needs to be done
- Set the timer to normally 25 minutes or more.
- Start working on your task until the timer rings. You’re not allowed to do anything else or get distracted before the timer rings.
- Take a 5 minute break. Take a walk outside the studio, drink some water, browse Facebook or do whatever.
- After four 25 minute work sets (4 pomodoros), take a longer break up to 15 minutes.
- Rinse and repeat technique
2 – Get Into The Zone
Played sports before? You might just know when you get into the zone.
You forget everything but the game. You stop thinking about what’s for dinner, forget your mortgage bills and you hyper focus into what’s on task whether you’re playing basketball or kicking a ball around.
This is when you can get the best performance when working on anything. A no brainer, this is also the reason why boxers who fight competitively fail to hear their coaches screaming at them from the side when fighting, because they’re in the zone and focusing on their opponent. You know what happens when they loose focus for a split second. They get hit in the face.
So we need to get into the zone when producing music. Here are some strategies to getting there:
#1 – Set A Work Schedule
Say you have to produce a piece of music. Estimate how many hours you’ll need and then work that many of hours.
Many of us do not set a time or work schedule, thus failing to get into the zone. When you go for a friendly football match with your friends, you’d normally set a time to play, say from 8am to 11am in the morning. Scheduling your time like that allows you to dedicate that time to get into the zone.
So try scheduling a time for you to sit down and produce. Don’t just go into the studio and hope to focus. Instead, tell yourself that you’ll produce music from say, 7pm to 10pm, then go in the studio and work on your music. You’ll find it easier to get focused and to get into the highest productivity levels when you know your work hours.
It doesn’t make sense to be sitting in the studio all day, but not doing anything.
#2 – Develop The Power of Belief
Producing or composing can get difficult.
Most writers and composers call this moment the writer’s block. Sometimes you get stuck at a passage or a part of your music piece. It feels pretty uncomfortable and this causes them to lose focus and begin to browse on Facebook or do something else; text somebody or browse for new VSTs online.
The method to remedy this is to develop the power of belief. The idea is to think positive and think you have what it takes to finish a great sounding piece.
#3 – Understand Your Daily Rhythms
This is about understanding when you can be most productive and get into the zone. For example, most of my production work is done in the evening. For some, their most productive times is during midnight when they are free from distractions.
Although I don’t recommend that you burn the midnight oil, it works to find a 3-4 hour stretch that you can into the flow. Finding this perfect ‘zone’ time boils down to managing your work & family, finding a space during a day when you can shut yourself off from the world, log off the internet, Facebook and just get work done.
You might have a family and kids to look after, so different people would find different zone times to produce music.
3- Optimize Your Studio And Producing Environment
I’ve often mentioned that the studio is the worst place to make music.
People who love locking themselves in a room would argue with me. But would a room without windows, sunlight and fresh air, help us become more productive? Not so much.
If you ever sat in the studio for a huge project and work everyday non-stop, you’ll begin to loose creativity. Believe me. I once began to miss sunlight & human interaction during a compositional project that required me to finish tons of music & sound effects within 2 weeks.
So what do you do when you have no choice but to be in the studio?
You improve your studio’s comfort
#1 – Get Good Chairs
You’ll be sitting most of the time when producing, so it’s best to get great chairs that has support for your back.
You can produce longer when you’re more comfortable, so never overlook the importance of getting a good chair.
Top Of The Grade Chair
Aeron Chair by Herman Miller – If you spend 8 – 12 hours at your desk, it’s a no brainer to get good chairs. Herman Miller chairs belong to the high quality chairs category. Very good quality, comfortable, impressive back support together with lots of adjustments options.
Herman Miller chairs are pretty known and has been around for a long time since the dot com era. If you love your back and want to be productive, invest in a good chair. They also have a selection of other high-end chairs which you can check out.
Budget Office Chairs
If spending too much on a chair doesn’t make too much sense yet, you can always opt for a normal office chair.
The best way to find a great chair is to actually test the chair for yourself. However sometimes, you won’t really know the comfort of a chair until having sat in them for a few hours.
If testing them yourself is out, you can look at online reviews and see which chairs are comfortable for the studio.
Here are some recommended budget office chairs below the $300 mark which has great reviews.
AmazonBasics Mid-Back Mesh Chair – I don’t think there is much to complain when you buy a chair at this price, but the Amazon Basics seems to have plenty of good reviews for a basic chair that simply works.
If you have noticed, I’ve not recommended high back chairs with head rests. The reason for that is because some producers believe that the head rest causes you to have sound biasness due to the bounce of sound from the head rest when you monitor with your studio monitors.
Also if you are a guitarist and you tend to do lots of guitar/bass tracking in the studio, avoid buying chairs with armrests. It’s often fun to look at the chairs in studios and guess if the studio owner is a guitarist or not.
#2 – Get Good Lighting
Dull lighting may make your studio look cool but it will put the strain on you.
Reading or producing in low light conditions can put strain on your eyes. When you have dim lighting in the studio, the contrast decreases between black characters on your screen and you may have to pull yourself closer to your computer screen. The ciliary muscle around your eye lens begin to contract and reshape so that light is redirected to the focal point behind your eye. As this motion occurs, you get light headiness and nausea because your eye now works harder than normal to focus.
Sounds bad? It actually is.
Try Have Windows In Your Studio If You Can
A luxury of recording studios to have is a window overlooking a nice scenery.
Nothing beats a nice view and natural sunlight as you carry on your daily work. So if you have the option of building windows in your studio, by all means, you have to make sure you have it.
Install Daylight Bulbs
Bringing daylight into your studio is impossible, but we can sort of ‘fake’ it with daylight bulbs.
Daylight bulbs are designed to provide a similar level of brightness to natural daylight and have two characteristics to vary from – color temperature and rendering index.
I advise you to go for a color temperature of around 6500K for a natural level of daylight into your dull studio, although the level of intensity you want for your bulbs are really up to you.
Get Normal/Colored Floor Lamps
Besides the wall lights and indirect lighting you may have in your studio, it helps to add floor lamps in your control room.
Uplight floor lamps like the affordable Ikea Floor can add to the ambiance and lighting you’ll need in your room. If you find having too much direct lighting to be hurting your eyes, an uplight lamp would save the day.
It’s also nice to add a colored floor lamp to add mood in your studio. Colored or decorative floor lamps are usually added in the recording room of the studio so the vocalist or recording artist gets in the mood easier.
Producing music takes up lots of time, but it shouldn’t take all of your time away. Besides, you need time to promote your music, run your recording studio and to network with other fellow music producers as well.
If you follow the 3 tactics in this post, you’ll definitely quicken your producing output.
Look for what you lack from the three tips that I’ve shared in this post and try them.
If any of them worked well for you, please leave me a comment below because I’d love to hear about it in a comment.