Get organised! Make your producing life easier and improve your workflow within your DAW with our tips for better organised music production sessions.
One of the many reasons working in a DAW is so powerful is the nearly limitless amount of tracks you can add to your project. It’s keeping track of them that’s the tricky part.
It’s worth getting into the habit of staying organised with your workflow as you produce. It’ll save you time and headaches later when you’re trying to locate that one loop that you’re sure you had the day before, but can’t for the life of you find now. When you get to the editing and mixing stage, you’ll thank your past producer self for being so prepared.
Here’s some hacks to help you become an organised music producer and work more productively in your DAW project.
Name each track
To work faster, you’ll need to be able to quickly spot whichever track you’re after. Give every new track a descriptive title – lead guitar 1, kick, and so on. You don’t want to give yourself any more hassle than necessary when locating the track.
Organise your favourite samples
Never lose the flow again by having a folder of sample favourites ready to go. Get ideas down quick by having a saved selection of samples and presets you know you love, saving you endlessly searching for the perfect sample or synth patch before you’ve even got the idea down.
Keep your sample library in organised folders and get rid of samples you’ve never used. The same goes for your third-party plugins – sort everything into folders and if there’s a load of plugins that you excitably downloaded but aren’t actually useful, bin ‘em.
Colour each track
Assign colours to your tracks. Most DAWs allow you to do this. You can group instruments in similar colour palates. Do this at the start of your session or after you’ve emerged from the creative fog – whatever suits your producer workflow best.
Once the creative madness of getting ideas down has subsided, look over your project so far and get rid of any unused plugins and instrumental parts. Check your group routings are clearly organised. And don’t forget to name your file something distinguishable from other projects – you’ll thank yourself later.
Find the notes section
Many DAWs have a notepad tool. You might find it useful to type in any information about changes you’ve made to each track, such as compressor settings. Next time you think, “That sounds great… but how did I do it?” or you have to re-record something, you can check your notes.
Find that you’re often using the same plugins and a similar setup every time you make music? Try creating project templates. Different templates can be created in your DAW for whatever type of music you’re likely to create – electronic, live recording, beat-making, a stripped-back vocal session… Get set up with your favourite instruments, busses and sends and jump straight in.
Arrange the order of your tracks
Get logical with how you arrange your tracks. What are the elements that ground your song? The beat anchors your entire track, so start with the drums at the top. With every project, order your tracks into an arrangement that makes sense, from the foundation onwards. For example:
- Rhythm guitar
- Lead guitar
- Other instruments
- Backing vocals
- Lead vocals
Make use of markers
Drop a marker at each section of your track, and give it a name – intro, verse, and so on. Being clear of the structure of your song will help you to navigate during the mixing process. Then you can jump from marker to marker quickly.
Do you have a particular workflow and organisational process that helps you stay on top of your tracks when you’re producing? Any cheats or tricks? Let us know in the comments.
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