“How do I finish tracks faster without getting stuck?”
One of the most common obstacles for producers is that they never seem to actually FINISH their tracks.
Are you the kind of producer with endless amounts of unfinished projects and “ideas” but only a handful of final, fully mixed tracks?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Not even close.
This is an extremely common problem for both beginners and more advanced producers. Starting a fresh track can feel inspiring, creative and incredibly rewarding, whereas finishing a track you’ve been working on for 2 weeks can often feel draining and demotivating.
Luckily, there are several tips and tricks you can use to shift your mindset and actually start finishing your tracks.
So without further ado, here are 8 workflow tips on How To Finish Tracks FASTER in 2022. Enjoy!
1. Write down your goals and set timers
Getting better at finishing tracks is all about changing your mindset.
If you’re going into a production session with no plan or set goals, it’s much harder to focus on specific tasks. This leads to much more procrastination and less output. Remember, work smarter not harder.
With that in mind, try this before your next music production session:
• Write down a short list of goals for that session. For example: Record final vocals / experiment with new synth melodies in chorus / etc…
• Set a timer. I usually set a 2 hour timer on my phone, and put it next to me. Within that 2 hours I’m only allowed to work on music, with no distractions. The psychological effect of setting a visible timer is incredibly effective, and makes the production session feel significantly more rewarding.
Of course, the goals you set don’t have to be too rigid. If you get inspired to work on another part of the track, follow that inspiration.
This easy technique makes it much easier to actually focus on finishing your tracks.
2. Leave the technical details for later…
This is a big one. Many producers will start a new track, lay down some basic sounds, and then start adding things like EQ, compression and other technical mixing processes.
From my experience, leaving those processes till after you’ve arranged the building blocks of the track can seriously improve your workflow.
Granted, things like EQ and compression are crucial parts of music production. However, working on these technical processes early-on can completely take you out of your creative flow.
With that in mind, try this during your next production session:
• Create the entire arrangement of the track, focusing mainly on creating, composing and layering the song.
• After you’ve got the composed track, then turn your attention to things like EQ, compression and other technical details.
Adding some EQ and compression as you go along is completely understandable. However I’d recommend leaving the finetuning till after the track arrangement.
3. Get inspired!
Sometimes you need a little external motivation to finish a track.
Watching videos of other producers working on their craft is an invaluable way to find inspiration. FACT Magazine’s ‘Against the Clock‘ series is particularly good, a series where producers create a beat within a certain time limit.
Listen to music in a similar genre to your own, and listen to how the producer layers and arranges the tracks. Inspiration can come from anywhere, so make sure you’re listening to music across a range of genres too.
It’s helpful to study artists you admire and use their music as a roadmap for your own tracks. There’s nothing wrong with taking certain chord sequences or arrangements and putting your own twist on them.
You can also take notes on other elements of their songs such as FX (when risers come in, downsweeps etc) and drum fills to apply to your own music.
4. Finish every song
I know, easier said than done right?
However, getting in the habit of finishing music is incredibly important.
Let’s say you only choose to finish your absolute favourite projects. That means you don’t actually end up mixing and finalising your music that often.
Next time you are working on an idea, finish the track. Even if it’s not your best work, it’ll feel fantastic to actually finish a project. Plus it’ll give you valuable experience mixing and completing a full track.
Think of finishing music as a habit that needs to be built up over time.
5. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE
Your phone will be one of your biggest distractions when you’re producing music.
Let’s say you’re creating a new track, and you’re slowly getting into the creative flow. All of a sudden, your phone buzzes and you’re instantly pulled out of your flow and your attention is on the mysterious notification. This can happen over and over again during a production session.
I’d recommend just turning your phone off, or putting it on do not disturb.
Ask yourself, do you really NEED your phone right next to you during a production session. What text are you desperately waiting for that means your phone needs to be with you at all times?
If you’re checking your phone every few minutes, you’ll probably end up getting half as much work done at the end of the session. This distraction-mindset also makes it way harder to actually finish tracks, as this is the part of music production that requires the most focus and self-discipline.
Also, make sure you are working in an uncluttered environment. Make sure your desk is clean, organised and free from any physical distractions. If you’re working in a messy environment, it can often make your feel unfocused and lazy.
6. Take breaks
This is very common advice given to producers struggling with creative blocks and other mental hurdles, and for good reason.
Taking regular breaks is incredibly important for maintaining focus throughout the day.
And when I say a break, I don’t mean browsing Facebook for half an hour. Take a proper break away from your computer and give your brain a chance to recharge. If you can, avoid screen time altogether during your break, and instead sit outside, call a friend, make a coffee, etc. Just make sure you are completely disconnected from your production session.
Plus, taking regular breaks means that when you return, you often return with new-found inspiration. Adding these intervals to your session can really improve your workflow, and even enhance your creativity along the way.
I take 15 minute breaks after 1:45 hours of work, resulting in 2 hour “blocks”. However, your schedule should be whatever works best for you.
7. Ask for Feedback
If you’re struggling with how to finish tracks, this simple piece of advice could definitely help.
Asking for honest, constructive feedback on your tracks is a great technique for finishing more music. This will give you an outside perspective on your song, and how it sounds to a fresh pair of ears.
As producers, we can often experience tunnel vision. This means we develop a very narrow-minded, constrained view of a track, which can often lead to over-complicating it.
This is why asking for feedback can be hugely important to developing and finishing a track. The feedback may spark an idea you’d have never thought of because you were too focused on something else. Remember, you can learn from anyone. You don’t have to play your track to other producers, and opinions / feedback from non-musicians can be incredibly valuable.
8. Turn a loop into a song
Let’s say your working on a 4-bar loop. The quicker you turn that loop into a full arrangement the better.
Instead of adding various sounds, extra percussion and other elements to the loop, extend the loop out horizontally and begin working on the “build-up” to the main sequence.
Getting into the “arrangement mindset” early-on is a great technique for finishing your tracks. Otherwise you may spend hours perfecting a 4-bar loop, and then by the time it’s done you’re bored and want to move onto the next track.
Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of “over-producing” a certain section of the song by adding too many sounds and effects. Not only can this ruin the track, it can completely kill your motivation to move onto the next section of the track.
9. Expand your sound library
Sometimes all you need to finish a track is to find a certain sample that completes the vibe of the song.
We’ve released countless guides on finding the best samples for your music (free and paid!) If you feel your sample library needs a bit of an update, have a browse through some of these guides:
10. Set deadlines
And finally, a very simple but effective method for how to finish music faster is to set yourself deadlines.
Setting deadlines for yourself can be surprisingly motivating.
Again, write down the deadlines on a piece of paper (and even stick it to your wall). It can be something along the lines of “finish track by tomorrow 10pm”.
Sounds simple, but it’s often small psychological tricks that can motivate you to get to work and finish more music.