Writer’s block, distractions, lack of energy, inspiration and goals can all make your day at the studio a drag. Here are 10 ways to stay on target.
10. Drink coffee. The first cup of Joe I ever drank was when I was 35 years old! Can you believe that? I always assumed it wasn’t healthy so why start up with it? I flew to Malta from New York to perform a show and I was completely wiped out. The promoters of the event were waiting for in the lobby of the hotel. They were all sitting around drinking coffee. I really wanted to feel better so I ordered my first cup of coffee ever. First, to my surprise it tasted great. Next thing I knew I was awake and almost euphoric. I saw the light and my life has been forever improved. In the studio I find the best time to grab a hot one is right when your about start arranging. The five minutes to brew one up gives your ears a break and you get zapped with a mind boost right when you need it. Don’t break from music making while you drink it. Sip and move those waveforms around the screen. It works!
9. Pet your pet. We’ve all seen the famous website Catsynth.com right? There’s a reason all those felines are hanging in the studio. Somewhere between ten and fifteen tummy rubs your ears reset and are ready for vocal take two. Don’t worry if your the type of singer that needs Auto-Tune because Felix loves you anyway!
8. Listen to something very different. Four hours into any mixing section and your brain starts to believe it’s being exposed to a torture test of some sort. Stop and click iTunes open and then play the cheesiest, happiest song you can find. Besides realizing how much better any song you choose is better than the one your working on your brain will reward you with some new ideas.
7. Call your mother. Typically, phoning home lasts ten to fifteen minutes. Thats a perfect break time. Mommy’s voice will remind you of a time before you even cared about micpre’s. Whatever you do don’t call an ex-girlfriend!
6. Get some fresh air. Studio air is dead, hot, electrified and stagnant. If there is a singer or band in the room then it’s usually also smelly air. Take twenty minutes and hang your head out the window. Better yet walk around the block. If you take the band with you it may not be restfull and resetting so walk alone. One thing to note: If you leave people in your studio be sure you trust them.
5. Keep pushing forward without any break. All of the successfull producers I know have something in common. When the going gets tough in the studio they don’t stop or take a break at all. The moment your most frustrated is the moment your greatest ideas will be appear.
4. Turn off IM and emails. Bling: you got spam. Ding: did you see this video of Hasselhof vomiting? Zap: Just saying hi. Kill it all. Turn it off. Take those IM and Mail application’s icons out of your dock. There’s a time for work and play and no matter what you tell yourself these are playtime accessories.
3. Try adding a new melody. It’s easy to fall in love with the melody you start off with when producing a new song. However, chances are you can improve it or add variation. I repeatedly discover a big boost in excitement when making new notes work. Music theory is complex and magical so delve deep and you will be rewarded.
2. Dance. Studio work is sedentary work. While your imagining a nightclub of fans screaming as you yell back at them your actually just sitting in a room in front of a computer. Normally I would suggest a little exercise but your in a music studio right? Get onto iTunes and download someone’s scary Disco iMix playlist and make an ass of yourself. Shake it hard because after a few 70s club hits you will feel better and make better music for the rest of the day. It’s a fact.
1. Give yourself a goal. I used to get discouraged when I would go to the studio, start a song and then come home upset that it wasn’t completely finished. I began to track what I was getting done per day in the studio and realized I was actually completing big tasks. For example, in one typical day I would pick create the beat, melody, chorus and start fleshing the verses out. Thats quite a lot and something to be pleased with. With that knowledge and continued self examination I now know it takes me about eleven full working days to complete a song. Now I set release dates with ease and this gives me a sense of continued purpose in the studio. Without any goals your simply lost in music and sequencing. Having a plan is the best inspiration of all.