Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a passionate amateur music producer, chances are you spend many hours working in your sequencer to prepare your recordings and then do the same preparations over and over again.
To speed up your music production workflow, you need to make it easier for yourself by minimizing the number of production steps or optimizing them. Use a preconfigured project with basic instruments (drums, piano, etc.) and combined VST effects (compressor, equalizer, limiter). Expand your workspace by installing an extra screen. Close unnecessary applications running in the background and email programs. Use macros with KeyboardMaestro or AutoHotKey to automate recurring tasks. You can also get better hard drives to store your samples and speed up their loading.
Let’s take a look at how to proceed and prepare your workspace in order to speed up your workflow.
Create a project template
To improve the productivity of your music creation process, it is recommended that you create template project files that you open for each new project you want to create.
These files should include a collection of basic instruments such as piano, drums, bass, etc. so that you don’t have to load them every time you start a project. Obviously, these will be sample instruments that will have to be replaced later, but this should save you time at the beginning.
You can also add auxiliary console slices with send effects such as a reverb or delay. These Send tracks will allow you to use the same set of effects without having to add the same effects to different tracks, which will also save you system resources.
By using these template files, you can save valuable time and focus on creating your music rather than on the technical setup of your project.
Use powerful hardware
To improve your computer’s performance and make it easier to load your instruments, it is recommended that you install a high-tech SSD or M2 hard drive. These fast hard drives will not only allow you to load your samples faster, but also reduce the risk of your main hard drive’s bandwidth saturation.
It’simportant to note that defragmenting hard drives can be useless, or even harmful, because while fragmentation can slow down the read speed of platter drives (Hard Disk Drives), it can’t be applied to SSD and M2 drives.
This is because Solid State Drives (SSDs) do not need to be defragmented, as they use flash memory to store data rather than a magnetic disk. In addition, defragmentation can cause SSDs to wear out prematurely and shorten their lifespan, which can compromise the security of stored data.
It is recommended to take measures to optimize SSD performance, such as updating drivers, deleting unnecessary temporary files and disabling background programs that can slow down the system.
Note that these drives are more expensive than platter drives, but will allow you to work much faster, especially if you use large sample banks (a full orchestra for example).
You can also consider increasing the RAM of your computer, which will improve the overall performance and stability of the system by allowing the processor to process the data in memory faster. Of course, this option only applies if you are already using a good portion or the majority of your RAM during your music sessions.
It is important to maintain your computer regularly by updating your operating system and software, but also by deleting unnecessary files to free up space on your hard drives.
Finally, an important point too often neglected: Don’t forget to regularly back up your important data on an external hard drive or in the cloud (iCloud, Google Drive, DropBox, etc.) to avoid any data loss in case of a system failure.
Indeed, it is crucial to be proactive about backup. Imagine losing all your personal and professional data in an instant due to a hard drive failure or a computer virus. Now imagine having to reinstall and configure everything, a real nightmare 😱. To avoid this, it is recommended to back up your data daily or weekly, depending on your usage.
To ensure the safety of your files, it is recommended to automate the backup process. There are backup tools built into your system, Windows uses Windows Backup and OSX uses TimeMachine. Both of these utilities can perform this task in the background on a daily basis, without you having to worry about it.
However, it is essential to configure them properly to ensure that they back up all your files, not just the system files. Another option is to use third-party software such as Backblaze or Carbonite, which offer greater flexibility and more advanced customization options for backing up your data.
If you back up locally, it’s important to store your backups in a secure location and test them regularly to make sure they work properly when needed.
In addition, it’s important to consider the type of hard drive to use for your backups. HDDs (platter drives) are a reliable and cost-effective option for backups, as they don’t require high read and write speeds.
You can also consider automated backup of your files to a network attached drive(NAS). This option will allow you to store your data securely on your own home network, making it easier to access and share with other members of your family or business.
In addition, a NAS drive can offer advanced features such as offsite backup for additional protection against data loss in case of a natural disaster or a disaster. Backing up to a NAS drive is a convenient and cost-effective solution for protecting your most important data and is a good alternative to cloud backup.
Take the time to look for a hard drive that suits your backup needs and store it in a safe, dry location. By following these tips, you can ensure that your files are safe and that you are prepared for any eventuality in a timely manner and not have to reinstall your system!
Optimize your workspace
It is recommended to have a minimum of software running in the background to avoid taking up unnecessary CPU time. These can include security tools such as antivirus and firewalls to protect your computer from online threats. Disable these if you wish, but ONLY if your machine is not connected to the internet and you have done at least one scan before!
Additionally, you can also install maintenance programs to clean your system and improve its performance such as Gary Utilities 5 for Windows or Cleaner One Pro for Mac.
Again, it is important to keep all your software up to date to get the latest features and security patches.
It is recommended that you turn off your instant messaging software to avoid disruptions and other noise pollution. Notifications and message sounds can disrupt your concentration and productivity. It can also cause interruptions in your work, which can be detrimental. Like a Skype call popping up on the screen while recording a guitar solo, for example. 🎸
As a result, it’s best to turn off sound notifications and turn off instant messaging software when working on tasks that require intense concentration so you don’t have to start over.
Increase your workspace
To optimize your workspace, we recommend using two or more monitors. This will allow you to expand your workspace and open more plugin windows. In addition, you can have a dedicated screen for the mixer.
Nowadays, most modern computers are equipped with graphics cards that allow you to connect one or more additional monitors. With a larger workspace, you can also rearrange your windows for better organization and productivity. In addition, it will allow you to see the big picture of your projects and work more efficiently.
16:9 or 21:9 screens have advantages for professionals who need to open multiple windows at the same time. Having multiple windows side by side can make it easier to manage multiple tasks without having to switch between applications. If you’re a music producer, a 21:9 screen can allow you to display a good portion of your mixer’s console slices horizontally, which can be very useful for a complex mix with lots of tracks to manage.
In addition, by using larger screens, you can also increase the size of the windows for better readability and a more pleasant working experience. Finally, it’s important to note that larger screens can be more comfortable for the eyes, as they reduce eye strain by reducing the need to zoom in on windows and characters. Think of your eyes!
Use simplified multiple effects
Use combination effects with presets like Waves’ Scheps Omni Channel to have all the tools you need to mix your tracks into one effect. This way, you don’t have to insert multiple recurring effects into the console slice (compressor, EQ, limiter, gate, etc.) to mix your track.
For effects such as Chorus, Reverb, Delay, Phaser, Flanger, etc. Also use multiple effects like, for example, “Drip VST” to modulate your sound with customizable and serial effects presets. The presets will allow you to have a working base that you can modify later on as you wish without having to click around to open and close several plugin windows.
It is best to avoid plugins that have interfaces that are too overloaded with features, as this can slow down your work, especially if you are not used to using them. Searching for features or exploring the possibilities is quite different from normal plugin use, you should use your plugins and not learn them during your music sessions. A tip to save time, read the manual! 📖
If you decide to use plugins, it is recommended to test them first on a test project before using them on a major project, to get familiar with how they work and to make sure they won’t cause problems or conflicts with other tools you are using.
To increase your work speed, you can use third-party macro software. Macros are series of automated actions that allow you to perform redundant tasks with a single click or push of a button.
The benefits of using macros are many. First, it saves you time and effort by avoiding manually doing repetitive tasks. In addition, it can help reduce human error, which can be especially important in business settings. Using macros is a great way to improve your productivity and efficiency.
AutoHotKey (Free) **** is a program available on Windows that allows you to create complex macros to facilitate your daily work. Using simple scripts, you can automate repetitive tasks and save valuable time. For example, you can create a script that opens several programs simultaneously and resizes windows to fit your needs.
It works with “.AHK” files, which are script files to be programmed by yourself or shared between users. These script files allow you to create custom keyboard shortcuts and automate repetitive tasks on your computer. With a little practice, you can create more and more sophisticated scripts to improve your productivity and efficiency.
However, you will need to look at the documentation to write your own scripts, which is not always easy. If you don’t have any programming skills, it’s better not to venture into the use of this software. You might cause some problems on your machine. It is better to use scripts programmed by trusted specialists and modify them if necessary.
KeyboardMaestro (Paid) on Mac is an easier alternative to automate repetitive tasks. Indeed, this application has a management and scripting interface that offers pre-programmed actions to use as blocks. This way you can program many tedious actions, even in your sequencer.
It is possible to create macros with suites of keyboard shortcuts to automate specific tasks such as exporting a file with a particular name or changing the color of all the elements in a track, for example.
With this feature, you can save time and be more efficient in your work. In addition, the intuitive interface of KeyboardMaestro makes it easy to create custom scripts, even for novice users.
This application is compatible with many software programs, which will allow you to use it for different tasks depending on your needs. In short, if you are looking for a simple and effective way to automate repetitive tasks on your Mac, KeyboardMaestro is a solution to consider.
The StreamDeck from Elgato (MK2, XL version or later) is an ideal tool for quickly performing repetitive tasks. These devices are originally designed for streamers, allowing them to control peripherals and software such as a webcam, lights or OBS software.
But the StreamDeck can be configured to perform a wide range of tasks, such as opening programs, managing files, browsing the Internet and more. In addition, it can be customized to perfectly fit the needs of each user. StreamDeck is a versatile and effective tool that can greatly enhance the productivity and usability of any computer.
It is entirelypossible to control your sequencer with StreamDeck using profiles available at www.sideshowfx.net. These profiles, although not free of charge, allow you to control almost all of the tools in your sequencer. You can download profiles for Ableton LIVE, Cakewalk, Cubase, Logic PRO X, Nuendo, Reaper and Studio ONE.
However, to use these profiles, you may need to install free third-party software.
Finally, don’t forget that customizing your sequencer isn’t just about tools and shortcuts. You can also customize the look of your sequencer by using custom skins and themes, especially on Ableton LIVE or Studio ONE for example. This can not only make your sequencer look better, but also make it easier to use by making it more readable.
In this article we have seen how to optimize music production. To do this, it is important to have a powerful computer, to save our data regularly and to simplify the work with combined effects and automated macros. Finally, increasing the work surface with several large screens is another way to improve efficiency and productivity. By applying these tips, you’ll be able to produce music faster while making your life easier.