Workflow for full-timers

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bakerstreet
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Workflow for full-timers

Post by bakerstreet » Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:40 am

Hi, I'd love to hear from any full-time writers about their workflow. On Taxi TV I've seen some say they can turnout 5 tracks per week. As a new, full-timer I'm curious as to any tips others may have to improve workflow to achieve this turnaround whilst maintaining the high quality expected.

I hope I'm asking this question in the right section as I'm really asking about organisational tips and routines rather than creativity although these do go hand in hand.

Thanks.
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"The greatest art in the world is the art of story telling" - Cecil B DeMille

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Re: Workflow for full-timers

Post by ttully » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:46 am

hi Bakerstreet,

On a good week....5 tracks... some weeks.... 1 track... or no tracks....and of course it depends on the genre.
.
It also depends on what a library or show is looking for..... it seems like they don't contact you for a few months....then all at once they all need stuff tomorrow!
I usually work best under some pressure.....or a deadline.

Hip Hop, EDM, Tension, Drones... usually do not take very long. ( but sometimes they do)
Big orchestral tracks.... over a month for 1...sometimes longer, they sometimes just keep developing.

I have templates set up in Protools for the different types of tracks... EDM template, Comedy template (etc.).
These have most of the plugins and instruments I need, ready to go.
I would HATE to have to start from scratch every time I did a new track....no way!

Also, I am usually working on 3 or 4 different tracks at a time and keep switching between them when I run out of ideas or get bored.

And I know this is not the correct way to mix.... but 9 times out of 10, I am mixing and mastering at the same time....mixing with mastering plugins active.
Been doing that for years...and it seems to work...at least for me!

And the only way to keep the quality high is to A/B your stuff with what is out there...or what the show sends you for examples.

My 2 cents worth,
Tim

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Re: Workflow for full-timers

Post by Paulie » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:29 pm

It's going to vary based on the genre and the brief. Electronic genres (Trap, Future Bass, EDM in general) are very formulaic so once you get a good template worked up you can crank out new variants very fast. Tension cues can also be very structured and easy to reproduce. I recorded a tutorial video on the concept early last year for another Taxi member where I take a signed tension track and create a new track from it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W055RCRBy0

Most music is based on a form of some kind. Once you identify the tendencies within a certain genre you can literally map them out and then compose based on that format. Of course, there's a whole lot more to it than that, but once you have a "recipe" or guidelines, you can work faster. And, everyone has their own skillset and toolbox, these both contribute to your abilities to delver the goods in a timely manner.

HTH

Paulie
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Re: Workflow for full-timers

Post by Coffeeinthesink » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:19 pm

Paulie wrote:It's going to vary based on the genre and the brief. Electronic genres (Trap, Future Bass, EDM in general) are very formulaic so once you get a good template worked up you can crank out new variants very fast. Tension cues can also be very structured and easy to reproduce. I recorded a tutorial video on the concept early last year for another Taxi member where I take a signed tension track and create a new track from it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W055RCRBy0

Paulie
This video is so great Paul. Would love to see you do more... as time permits of course! I never considered modifying the midi notes of an existing piece to create something entirely new. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Workflow for full-timers

Post by VanderBoegh » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:56 pm

Everyone's workflow is different, and everyone's acceptable or desired level of output is different too. Even for us full-timers, output and workflow are vastly different amongst composers.

Some full-timers I know are content to make 150-200 killer pieces of music per year. They've worked many years (or many decades) at this and are now at the stage where they can take their foot off the gas and enjoy the fruits of their labor by not working as hard and still reaping the benefits. So, 150-200 tracks per year keeps their income stream going strong, but allows them to work less hours, go on vacations, see the world, play, focus on family, etc.

Then there's the full-timers like myself that are relatively new to the full-time status (I'm only in my 2nd year as a full-timer), who don't have the large nest-egg built up yet, so we continue to work like mad dogs so the revenue pipeline can see exponential growth. Personally, I try to make 9-10 tracks per week. Last year I made 500 total. I do this knowing that I'll eventually have a fat bank account and a big enough revenue pipeline that I can migrate my way into the previous category of full-timers, and take more vacations and spend less time working. But for now, I'm a workaholic.

Templates, as mentioned by Tim, are one of the best ways to speed up workflow. That, and pumping out an extremely large quantity of tracks in a genre that you're good at, rather than agonizing over the nuances of a style you're unfamiliar with.

Hope that helps, though my answer to your question doesn't actually provide any concrete answer, lol.

~~Matt

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Re: Workflow for full-timers

Post by DaveZ » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:29 am

Thanks for the tips, also Paulie thanks for your book list. I've been finding that helpful. Really clicking with the book "Music Habits" right now.


Dave

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Re: Workflow for full-timers

Post by bakerstreet » Wed Jun 26, 2019 3:07 pm

Paulie, great advice and loved your video. I can see how you can take a successful tracks and quickly offer more, hopefully equally place worthy work.
Matt - One day I'd love to say I'll take your 500 and raise you, but I don't no if that would ever be possible. It will be fun to find out :D 500 Tracks per year seems an insane amount! Hats off to you sir, if I wore a hat, which I don't but.... I tell you what, I'll raise a glass instead. I love that you watch so little TV yet get so much used by it. I only say that having watched the video you did the day after the last rally.
Thank you all for commenting on this post. You've helped me a lot.
Paul Howes (aka Reg) - Don't ask, unless we are at the bar.

"The greatest art in the world is the art of story telling" - Cecil B DeMille

I hope you music tells a story.

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Re: Workflow for full-timers

Post by Pvgeldrop » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:52 am

I produce around 2 minutes of music on average per day, though I only write orchestral work. The amount can vary on a daily basis, depending on what complexity is required. If it's just background music, it can be 10+ minutes per day.

My workflow is rather predictable. Assuming that I'm working on a 2,5 minutes piece of trailer music, I'll start with writing the melodies and basic harmony for the three parts of a trailer (intro, build, climax), then add some distinctive elements so that I have the ingredients ready for each part. Then, fleshing out the three parts. One important aspect here is knowing the structure of the piece that you're working on, I think, so you're working within a predefined structure from the start.

Tim mentioned templates; these are a necessary part of your toolbox. I have templates set up in Sibelius for most configurations (full orchestra with choir, piano trio, et cetera), with a matching template in Cubase so that I can just export each staff as audio and import it directly. The Cubase templates have matching instrument tracks that are already panned and positioned with Altiverb, and have links and FX channels set up for strings, woodwinds, percussion, and so on. I also have a template for mastering that contains all the standard plugins with various presets. They're disabled on startup, so that I can get a quick start on the master with just enabling and tuning them. Basically, for anything you do on a frequent basis, find a way to get it set up in a template, or automate it.

Not directly a workflow issue, but nevertheless something that I need to get to those 2 minutes a day: avoid all interruptions (be it real life or digital, so no social media during working hours), have a set schedule for the day to work with a clear goal for every day, and just work. Inspiration is a fine concept, but for me most inspiration comes from working on something, not the other way around. Most of the time, when starting on a new track, I'll just write a simple melody with some harmony so that I've mentally cleared the hurdle of 'getting started'.

One last 'tip', if you will: make sure you know your tools, and know them well. For example, Sibelius contains an enormous load of tools and plugins that save me tons of time (scale transformation, explode and arrange plugins, et cetera), some of which I didn't know existed until I completely read the reference manual. Being able to use every tool in your toolbox to its full potential is critical in achieving maximum output. Set aside half an hour a day or so to read your manuals, and possibly half an hour extra to experiment with what you've learned, and you'll find that it pays off very, very quickly. This goes for notation software, DAWs, VST/VSTis, and any other tool you may be using.

Personally, I only focus my attention on tracks that are within my specific skillset and expertise, like Matt pointed out as well; I highly doubt I'll ever start working on EDM or trap tracks.

Hope there's something useful in there for you. :-)
Paul van Geldrop

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Re: Workflow for full-timers

Post by bakerstreet » Sat Jun 29, 2019 7:52 am

Thank you Paul, yes very useful. You have confirmed many aspects of my approach, but I didn't consider spending 60 minutes a day learning the best use of the many tools I have. Also I have Vienna Pro 7 and ProTools setup but the templates are not quite aligned so I'll spend some of my time doing that. I mean my Orchestral Template in Protools doesn't have the right channels in the Pro Server setup yet. I've just added Pro 7 so this is high on my list of tasks.

It seems that spending my time writing 4 hours per day and then 1 hour sorting templates for future use as well as getting to know those tools is the best way for now to use my 5 hour a day budget. I do only have 30 hours per week and I expect too much to be done in that time, so info on how to structure that time is priceless for me right now. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.

I guess as I start to get more placements the business side of this will demand even more time. When it does, I will find it rather than eat into writing time. Also, I tend to write day one, mix day three, master day six (Saturdays) So day two & four I'm writing and mixing for other projects etc. I have not yet been asked to turn something around in 48 hours or less so I guess that's when a double day might be needed.

I am yet to get a forward but have some local businesses using my music. That said, only in the last 6 weeks have I managed to put in the required 30 hours this is very early days for me.


My origonal question came about out of the thought "I'm putting serious time into this, I better be doing this right" You guys have all helped me this week to stay on target so thanks.


PS I stay away from social anything at the mo :-)
Paul Howes (aka Reg) - Don't ask, unless we are at the bar.

"The greatest art in the world is the art of story telling" - Cecil B DeMille

I hope you music tells a story.

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