Get out the loop - 7 tips on how to finish more music




It’s ultimately the main goal of every studio session. Working towards ‘finishing’ a piece of music. You may have just sat through an hour of sound design or four hours organizing your sample library and no matter how you look at it, all these tasks still lead to one bigger goal - finishing music!

We all know that music is probably never finished (it can always be adapted at some stage) but there comes a time when you have to hit stop, save, export and close!


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Below, we have detailed 7 tips that can help you 'finish' more music!


Acceptance


Accept that it's never done! No matter how perfect the product is or how superb your music theory skills are if you don't accept that the project needs to be ticked off at some point then you will just tweak and tweak until it is ruined. The best point to start with here is accepting that a track will never be ‘finished’ and can always be updated. It is a moment in time that we have to accept as is and move on to the next project.





Use flaws to your advantage


In a world where Digital DAWs, in a rather robotic fashion, can make every bar the same as the next, leaving obvious imperfections in your tracks needn’t be a bad thing. That too-heavily swung beat or the vocal that sounds like it has been captured through a wet sponge - promote it. You never know, it might just be the one unique element that makes your tracks stand out.





Burn it


Burn, rip or record your track onto a physical medium such as a USB stick, CD or dare we say it Cassette tape! Even saving to DropBox or Soundcloud, anything that gets the track out of the DAW and resembles some sort of finished article. Psychologically this can be huge. Granted, the track might not be 'finished' but you have had the experience of accepting it in the state it is in and the chance to listen to it in different environments on various devices - which can only help with mixing decisions when you do decide to go back into the DAW.





Buy a calendar and stopwatch


Did you know that setting self-imposed deadlines helps you get things done!? Set a deadline when your track has to be finished by and stick to it, no questions! You can also try setting smaller deadlines during your studio sessions. Work on drums for 30 minutes, then work on melody ideas for 30 mins and so on and so on! By adopting this method, you are not just circling the same drum loop or melody hook over and over. Get yourself a stopwatch and try it in your next session.





Arrange everything


Arrange, arrange, arrange. We cannot stress enough how good it feels arranging an 8 bar loop into a 6-minute odd long 'track'. Even if you only copy over the loop multiple times and delete away some simple elements in a few sections (think kick and bass) you have progressed so much further out of the loop than you think. You can now see the track visually and can gain so much more inspiration for parts such as transitions and multiple creative sections will materialise off the back of doing this. Another great trick is to pull in a commercially released track and imitate the arrangement. Set markers for each section and then delete the track and get creative with your own loops whilst replicating a similar arrangement.





Freeze & Flatten


Most DAWs have a freeze and flatten function which commits midi channels (and audio) in their current state into an audio track with all the processing and automation burnt in. If you are sitting there tweaking needless parameters over and over - commit it to audio. Be done with it and move onto the next part. Not all tracks are going to be chart breakers but the more you get into the habit of finishing tracks, you will stumble over a gem. But you need to ‘finish’ tracks first to get to that point. Sitting with the same 8 bar loop isn't going to get you anywhere.





Get a second pair of ears


Play it to someone else. Yes, this is very hard for a lot of producers. Putting themselves out there and letting other people hear their music. It can dent your ego if you get bad feedback and can make you feel on top of the world if you get good feedback. The most important thing to remember is no feedback is bad feedback. You have put yourself out there and have gotten yourself some actionable points to work on whether the feedback was good or ‘bad’.





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