7 Music Productivity Tips to Get You Back In the Studio
Sometimes, the best way to beat writer’s block is to take a step away from the studio. With that in mind, a break can quickly turn into a hiatus if we’re not careful. Beat making is a muscle that must be exercised regularly in order for us to grow and develop as musicians.
It feels good to get back into the groove, but it’s understandable to feel intimidated after stepping away from your studio for an extended period of time. Fortunately, we put together a list of winning strategies to help you reignite your musical workflow and start building new beats.
7 Powerful Tips to Jumpstart Your Next Studio Session
Take these tips into your next session to get out of your head and into the music. These productivity pointers are designed to expand your skillset outside your comfort zone so that you can become a stronger musician:
1. Create Mini Missions
One of the best parts of music production is that you can get as specialized or as broad as you’d like with your practice. There are certain producers who dedicate themselves to learning a particular synthesizer for years on end, while other beat makers might frequently hop from one genre to the next.
Whether you’re more of a broad or niche-based creator, challenge yourself to do the opposite for the day by creating a mini mission as your production goal. For instance, one might spend a session focusing entirely on one plugin, testing the limits beyond the presets, and creating as many sounds as they can within that one space.
On the flip side, a producer prone to focus on the details might instead challenge themselves to create an entire song in one session. Switching up how you generally approach your workflow can be enough to get you back in the production chair and run off with your creativity.
Don’t worry if you find yourself straying from the original mission: the point of these mini-missions is to reignite your musical flow state.
2. Know When To Switch “Hats”
Most creatives have no trouble tapping into hypercritical mode, where it’s easy to self-scrutinize your work. While this perspective may be helpful during the editing stage of the production process, looking at your work from an analytical perspective from the get-go may be doing you more harm than good.
Keep stock of the guiding voices in your head and at what point they enter the process. Make sure you’re providing yourself enough room to breathe and explore during the brainstorming stage, and bring back the critical eye after you’ve fleshed out a bulk of ideas.
3. Become Unreachable
It sounds fairly simple, but it’s a lot easier to focus on beat building when there are no distractions to take us away from our creative space. Putting your phone or laptop in airplane mode might be enough for some, but it’s also a great idea to keep any known distractions out of the room entirely (just as we’re more likely to grab candy when we can see it through a clear jar, the temptation to scroll through our feeds arises when our devices are within arm’s length).
4. Find Accountability Partners
Being a music producer is incredibly rewarding because you have the power to create music entirely on your own accord. However, this can be debilitating productivity-wise if motivating yourself to create isn’t necessarily your strong suit.
Find musicians who can help keep you accountable, whether that’s through formal collaboration or simply picking a recurring date to share the progress on your beats. Forming habits around beat creation and receiving feedback will undoubtedly improve your productivity as a creator.
5. Delete a Major Element
You know you want to finish a song, but you’re finding yourself stuck in the process. You like some of what you’ve produced, but it’s not quite giving you that magical feeling you get when you’re onto something great. It’s time to take drastic measures.
Save a new session, and challenge yourself to take out a major player (like the drums, bass, or topline melody) and start anew. You’ll be surprised what you can build within the new context, and at the very least, you can know that you exhausted all of your options on route to make your beat as fantastic as possible.
6. Recreate a Major Beat
Sometimes the best way to get back into the studio is to get inspired. Before stepping into your session, listen to one of your latest favorite songs no more than three times, actively hearing the intricacies of the production. Now, sit down for your session to try to recreate your selected song as close to the original beat as possible.
This exercise helps you grow as a producer since it teaches you to pick up elements of structure and sound design and commit them to memory. You’ll also likely end up with a cool new beat on your hands you can use for an entirely new song. It will be similar to the original reference track but filtered enough through your own lens to make it uniquely yours.
Once you’ve finished your rough recreation track, compare and contrast it with the original track. This will help you take stock of your style and perspective as a producer in a roundabout way.
7. Challenge Yourself with a New Modality
We can get stuck in our ways when we don’t give ourselves room to explore new creation methods. Change the context you create in – perhaps instead of starting a beat on your desktop DAW, you opt for a mobile app like Ableton Note or Soundtrap while on your daily commute.
If you don’t want to switch up your workstation entirely, challenge yourself to avoid the elements you usually gravitate towards during your process. If you’re a stickler for virtual instruments, maybe you seek out some new samples, or head outside to do some field recording. A simple reroute in your usual routine can actually help you become a more productive producer, because it teaches you to problem solve in a variety of contexts, helping you grow outside your comfort zone.
Use these strategies to help you get back into the groove and improve your beat making toolkit for the better. Certain methods may resonate better with different types of thinkers, so feel free to test and tweak to your preference. Happy producing!
About the Writer
Kate Brunotts is an audio engineer and music producer from New York City. When she’s not writing about music, producing music, or singing and songwriting, Kate helps others realize their unique sound, whether through a fresh mix, new instrumental approach, or total rework of a particular sound.