Do you really need all that gear to make good music? Or that many tracks and sounds? Why do we spend so much time focusing on the things that most people won't even notice in the final product? Technology has been and still is improving faster than we can consume it and the effect is appears to have on people is astounding ... "If I don't have ..., I can't do ...", I'm sure we've all said this at one point in time.
First things first, this is not a post where I talk about the bare minimum needed to make music, there are plenty of other posts on the internet that do the same thing. Today, I will be focusing on mindful practices and simplifying things to allow more time for making music than fiddling with gear. If your goal is to make music, please read on ...
All over the internet you will see posts about what gear is needed to make music with plenty of advice regarding specific gear and recommendations, my advice here is to make a budget and get the best quality you can.
1. Clean up your wires.
Cables are my arch nemesis! Seriously, most cables are either too long/short because they're purchased at a time of need. I'm not suggesting you get rid of all your cables, simply determine the ones you need and start working on an upgrade plan for those to make sure you've got quality over quantity, try to buy cables with a lifetime warranty so you really don't have to worry. A shouldering iron won't go astray here as you'll be able to buy cable in bulk, which is cheaper, and make cables the perfect length for your setup.
2. Declutter your plugins.
Just like emptying the fridge, cupboards or any other storage area you may have around, we need to clear it occasionally and get rid of things that we don't need or use to make room for things we do. There are plenty of free plugins that we collect for various reasons and never use, these should be the first to go, then as you work your way through your collection, be brutally honest with yourself. It's better to master a few plugins to achieve your goals than to have an idea on how to use a hundred plugins. Not only will this free up more space on your computer for making music but also help it run faster.
3. Buying new things.
As a general rule, I try not to buy something that overlaps with something I've already got unless it simply makes life easier (or brings joy and happiness according to Marie Kondo). Let's use an analogue synth as an example, I currently don't own one but would love one. For me, an analogue synth has to be easier and more fun to use than my plugins while providing plenty of hand-on control.
4. Make your own samples.
What better way to expand your sample library and truly making your music your own than picking up a high quality microphone and start making your own sample. By all means, take small steps - you don't want to get overwhelmed here. I'm only starting on this journey myself, first step was to sample some of my synths so I can load them onto my Nord and only take the one keyboard to a session.
5. Follow the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Stupid).
Keeping it simple is one of the most difficult things yet most rewarding when it comes to being creative. Whether you're composing the next big hit or a soundtrack for an independent documentary, keeping it simple will help you speed up the process and give you a solid platform to expand and experiment. Think of it like creating the mould then breaking it.
These 5 things may be extremely simple, yet even I struggle to follow them sometimes. Does a messy studio make it difficult for you to work? Are you the type of person who over-complicates things? Let me know what you do to maintain a consistent high quality workflow in the comment section below.