Unfortunately, there is no known way in the universe to extend time. So the only thing you can do to be more productive is make better use of your time.
There’s a limit to how many songs you could realistically produce in a day, week, or month. But if you could improve your processes, and make your setup more streamlined, it would be possible to produce more good quality songs faster.
Here are several steps you can take to get more songs produced in less time, without sacrificing quality.
Listen To A Lot Of Music For Inspiration
It’s important that your inspiration isn’t just coming from one source. You should expose yourself to a lot of different styles, genres and production techniques so you know how to adapt to different situations.
For example, If you’re working with a lot of different clients, then you never know when you might have a reggae artist book a session with you. If you’ve never produced reggae songs before, you would have to research and brush up on specific production techniques. You’d have to spend a lot of time preparing for that client.
But if you’re regularly studying engineering, mixing and mastering, there shouldn’t be too many surprises. You’ll be able to experiment and have fun without sweating the details, and most producers I know would prefer having the permission to “go crazy” instead of having to research best practices at the last minute.
Create Presets When Trying And Produce Songs Faster
Depending on the exact hardware and software platforms you’re using, your ability to create presets might be limited.
Most DAWs allow you to create customized presets on a plugin by plugin basis, so I’ll at least assume that level of flexibility in your workflow.
But even if not for that, you can still systemize how you use analog rack-mount hardware by charting the presets you use for different effects in a notebook. It might be tedious, but it’s a simple way to speed things up, and it’s still effective.
You will likely use different settings for different songs, but oftentimes it will be within a small margin of where you set it for a song you’ve already produced. A drastically different approach won’t be required unless you haven’t been happy with previous results, or if you’re producing a song in a completely different style.
Create presets for everything, and you’ll be able to do more in less time.
Learn Keyboard Shortcuts
If you have a software-based setup (I assume it’s at least partly software-driven), it’s a simple thing that can make a huge difference cumulatively.
Some things are easier to do with the click of a mouse, but many simple functions, like saving projects, slicing clips, and turning the metronome on and off are usually mapped to simple keyboard combinations that will help you be more efficient.
You don’t have to learn all of the shortcuts, just the ones that make sense based on functions you use most frequently, and the specific key combinations that need to be used (find out whether or not they can be customized).
Get Lots Of Practice For Quicker Production Turnover
It’s a simple concept – the more you practice something, the better you will get at it.
Contrary to what you might think, some of the world’s top producers do not have state-of-the-art equipment, and huge, expensive mixing boards. Why? Because they’re able to achieve amazing results without making any changes to their setup!
You don’t need to upgrade your gear every month or every year. New software and hardware will be released on an ongoing basis regardless of your budget and need for it. If you choose to keep up with updates, it can throw a wrench into your learning process as interfaces change and you might have to adapt to new workflows.
Commit to learning your own setup. If you can get great results with what you’ve got, what reason is there to upgrade? I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t keep up with the latest trends and practices, but you shouldn’t get new software and hardware just because you can. Buy strategically.
Optimize Hardware & Software
In an ideal world, you would have a dedicated desktop machine for production work. System and software updates can unfortunately affect a previously working setup negatively, which is why it’s best to have a separate computer just for recording and producing.
Once you feel you’ve optimized well, leave your setup as-is, so it’s always dependable and reliable. You’ll experience far fewer system crashes and compatibility issues as result.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should have a fast computer for processing and handling audio. If it’s in your budget, upgrade your computer so that your machine doesn’t slow you down as you’re working on songs.
Upgrade Your Gear
We’ve already talked a little bit about gear, and we’ve established the fact that you don’t need to buy gear every time something new comes out.
But the focus of this guide is to produce more good quality songs faster. Better quality gear can lead to better results, assuming you have a good handle on what you’re doing.
Are there any mics you need? Could your preamps be replaced with better ones? Could a new mixer improve your workflow?
Look at the biggest pain points in your studio instead of just buying things that could enhance results by 10 to 20%. For example, these days, a good mid-range condenser mic is quite good, and you don’t necessarily need a Neumann to get a quality sound.
In case you have any aversion to systemizing, recognize that there is plenty of room for creativity even after you’ve created presets and processes for yourself. After all, you should be creating systems that serve you, and not get into a habit of serving the systems, particularly if they aren’t working for you.
We’ll say, for example, that your procedures can help you get any song to 80% finished, the last 20% could be left for further customization. This would definitely allow you to produce more songs faster and still get the quality you and your client want.