Setting Up A Workflow for Your Productions

Setting up a workflow is key to being efficient in your home studio. A while back, Dean Palya Jr offered us some great tips on his blog about how to set up a great workflow.

The benefits to creating a workflow you are comfortable with are numerous – ultimately, it will lead to creating cleaner, better productions.

My favorite point dealt with mixing as you go – this is something that can really save time and allow you to create a better mix and production. By always keeping an ear out for the mix, it is much easier to make better production and instrumentation decisions.

Here were his five points:

“1. Set up markers in your session. This is always the first thing I do because it allows me to set up a good map for my session. Without this, I’m lost. I may start recording my drums and find that by the time I’m ready for bass, I’ve got no idea where to play what. This is a real problem, as it can slow down your workflow tremendously. Using detailed markers will help speed up the process.

2. Decide what order you’d like to work in. For me, the order looks like this: drums, bass, keys, guitars, vocals, background vocals, ‘sweeteners’. I didn’t always record sessions in this order, but once I figured out that this workflow is efficient for me, I haven’t done it differently since. Figuring out your most efficient workflow is easy – just think about what your foundation is in your songs. Is it guitars? Then that may be the best place to start. Once you get your guitars, what’s next? Figuring out this workflow and applying it to all of your work will greatly improve your speed over time.

3. Mix as you go. This is incredibly powerful and can really help you create better productions. This means that after you finish a specific part of the recording process (like recording your guitars), spend 30 minutes mixing the tracks. This means using all the effects you would normally use on your tracks and dialing them in to the settings you like. Adjust your levels and pan knobs, and once you’re satisfied, move on to recording the next part. This is valuable because it allows you to better hear all of your parts in your productions along the way, and it saves a lot of time once you have recorded all of your parts and are ready to mix. You’ll probably want to still make some decent tweaks at the mixing stage, but you’ll be a lot closer when you get there!

4. If you’re working on an album, approach it that way. Whenever I start an album project, I work on different sections at a time. For example, I’ll record all of the drums for the entire album. I’ll mix them and get ready for bass. Then I’ll go through and work on all of the guitars. This does a few things. For one, it allows you to stay in the same mindset musically and creatively throughout the process. This can create a more fluid, coherent album in the long run. Secondly, it allows you to maximize your efficiency by keeping your setup the same along the way. If you’re recording vocals and have to set up a mic 10 different times for 10 different songs, you’re not being very efficient. Instead, tackle all of your vocals at the same time (possibly over a week or so period of time.) Leave it all set up and ready to go. Your vocals will be more consistent as a result, and you’ll be much more efficient.

5. Finally, learn your gear. This goes for everything from virtual instruments to microphones, DAWs to guitars. If you spend the time to know your gear, you’ll be able to find a workflow that suits your personal taste. Knowing what you like and don’t like will really help you set up a good workflow.” producers.deanpalyajr.com

It is always important to have a great workflow – it can really improve your efficiency and productivity when you’re working in your studio. Do you like to approach anything differently? We’d love to hear your approach – share with us in the comments!


2 thoughts on “Setting Up A Workflow for Your Productions”

  1. I work in the exact same way as you, it’s the most efficient and saving vocals for last allows the vocalist to get that much more practice time in and prepare themselves for loop recording and taking direction. Drums, bass, synths, keys,strings, guitars and on down the line in a logical order.

    I don’t particularly mix when I record though, I’m an oddball and I have everything in my head as to how the final product will be, I prefer to mix separately from the recording so I can put all my focus into making the mix shine.

    • Great minds think alike! 🙂
      As far as mixing separately goes, that’s also a great approach and can result in a great product! Even if you do like mixing while recording, it’s still a great idea to designate a separate mixing session to ensure everything is how it should be.

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