Once in a while I like to go through my project folders and cringe at my past work. When I was composing my first production music album, Synths, Drums & Rock ‘N’ Roll, I remember doing this and finding a clear trend in my old projects: The newer the project, the more it resembled a fully-produced song. This didn’t happen by chance, at one point, I distinctly remember making a conscious decision to finish every track I started.
This is harder to do when you’re a beginner because you don’t yet understand what a fully-produced track is. And I now understand that all of these little unfinished projects were a part of my training. Each one looked like a little experiment: I learned how to mix rock bass in one, I learned how to make the kick drum cut through in another, and so on. But when I was done with the experiment, that was it for the track and it never reached the song status.
All of this experimentation is great, but at some point you must start to get something to show for the hours you’ve invested in front of your computer. You can still experiment, but you should learn to scope your experimentation. You can package each little experiment into it’s own finished track - by the end of 10 experiments, you’ll have an entire album!
You should also make sure you can easily recall what you’ve just learned in other projects you may need it: You learned how to mix 5 different kinds of synths into your rock track? Add those synths to your rock template so they’re easily accesible and pre-mixed in your next track. Reutilization is key for productivity.
This will slowly develop into a pace: You’ll know you’re able to produce three finished tracks a week - or whatever that number is for you and the kinds of tracks you do. This will also help you estimate how much time a project would take, making you a more reliable producer.
Have you completed any tracks to the point where you have the final mastered bounce? No?! Then what are you doing reading this blog?!