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7 instant workflow boosters to refresh your lockdown music-making

(Image credit: Olivier Le Moal)

Although you may have started lockdown with the best of creative intentions, we're guessing that, by now, a certain amount of fatigue may have set in.

However, it's not too late to make your stay inside a productive one; we have some handy tricks to try if you want to whip your studio life into shape. Read on as we lay down eight productivity-inducing zingers to get your production workflow back on track.

1. Writing’s on the wall

A simple way to keep your studio life on track is to identify three positives and three points for improvement from your studio time in the last year, then write them down and pin them on the wall behind your setup. These things will then always come to mind when you’re working. Once you’ve hammered the positives home and refined those negatives, write a new list to replace the previous one.

2. Two heads are better than one

If you’re finding things in the studio are becoming a little stale, why not look to other people? Even if you can only do it virtually right now, collaborating with other musicians, vocalists or producers can put some new ideas on the table and give you valuable second opinions on what you’re doing - all while allowing you to build a valuable network of contacts that can be useful for future solo endeavours!

3. Music makeover

Every producer has made one track that’s either their most successful release, or just their personal favourite.

With this in mind, why not dig that tune’s stems out of your archives and give it a fancy lockdown makeover? Not only is this a great way to spark creativity and address anything you felt was missing from the original track, but it can also see you through times of writer’s block. Plus, once finished, you’ll have an exclusive VIP remix to ape the original version!

4. Take a shortcut

Speed things up when you’re making music by creating a ‘cheat sheet’ of oft-used keyboard shortcuts that you can keep close by when you’re in the studio. After a while, you’ll naturally learn these, which’ll speed things up even more.

Or, if you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket, invest in an Editors Keys keyboard overlay. This’ll show you every common shortcut for your chosen DAW and which modifier keys (Ctrl/Cmd, Shift etc) trigger them off.

5. Remix ready

Tackling a remix to start your studio year can be a great source of inspiration. Working on a remix gives you a structured path to take that’ll get you into the right groove when making music after you've finished. Find some suitable source material by asking a pal if you can reboot one of their tracks, downloading one of the many stem packs available on the internet, or asking around on forums.

6. In the wild

Laptop user? If so, why not charge your battery and head outside - observing social distancing rules, of course - to work on a beat on headphones? It can be truly amazing to take inspiration from your surroundings when writing or arranging, and it makes a nice change from topping up your studio tan in your usual spot.

7. Mix it up

A great challenge for all us producers and engineers is to take an everyday production skill (such as creating a synth sub bass or slicing up a breakbeat) and learn to do the same thing but using a totally different method. Same results; different techniques. This is great practice, as it not only keeps things fresh, but also teaches us to think outside the box when solving problems in the lab. Good luck!

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