Bogged Down In The Details [Guest Post]

2010 Aug 11, 2010

The following is a guest post from my good friend and fellow recording blogger Joe Gilder from Check out his site for some awesome tips and tutorials on making music in the home studio!

Do you have that nagging recording project that just seems like it will never be finished? Do you work and work and work and work, and there seems to be no end in site? Perhaps you’re getting too caught up in the details and missing out on the big picture.

Via Mark Hunter Flickr

The 80/20 Rule

You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule, right? It’s this magical little formula that tells us that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but I’ve seen it apply to almost everything. When I was in sales, I found that the majority of my sales came from a small percentage of my customers. After running my own business for a year, I find that less than 20% of the tasks I do are actually income-generating tasks.

So how does the 80/20 rule play out for you in the studio? Do you spend 1 day recording, 3 days editing, 7 days mixing, and 2 days mastering? I bet if you spent a few more days on the first step, recording, you’d find that your tracks sound better and need less editing, are easier to mix and master.

You may find if you spend 4 days on recording, you’ll only need to spend 1 day on editing and 1 day on mixing and mastering. That’s 6 days, rather than 13.

You’ve worked on those projects before, right? The tracks were recorded so well that the song seemed to mix itself. You didn’t have to anything drastic with EQ, compression, or automation. You just made a few tweaks here and there, and let the tracks just “be.”

Check Your Focus

There are obviously no rules when it comes to recording. Every recording engineer has a different process and workflow. We also have our weak points, those areas where we waste a lot of time…those areas that become a source of frustration.

Here are a few tips to help you get over the hump and start knocking projects out much faster:

1. Analyze – What tasks take up the most of your time? Do you spend an hour EQ-ing the shaker track when it’s going to be buried in the mix anyway?

2. Eliminate – Once you identify those silly tasks that take up so much of your time, get rid of them. That’s not to say you shouldn’t EQ your shaker tracks, but limit how much time you spend. Give yourself 2 minutes and be done with it.

3. Finish – There’s something about actually COMPLETING a project that does wonders for my productivity. I just finished my album, for example, and will be releasing it later this month. It feels GREAT.

Make it a habit to periodically analyze your production techniques and habits. Part of becoming a better engineer is learning how to get great results FAST.

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