I’ve worked on various forms of music production – mastering, mixing, instrumental recordings, overdubbing, and also straight production from scratch – and I noticed 3 dangers of long production phases.
Many jobs have to be completed within a timeframe of strict deadlines and feedback sessions, and wrapped up so further steps within the release-campaign can be undertaken. Working as a hired pro can be stressful, but also very fulfilling, especially when acting as your own “boss” you have to be aware of the way you work and how you swing through a creative production.
A really interesting insight that I have gained over the years, is the fact, that more time for a certain production, song or work step, doesn’t necessarily lead to a better outcome or more ingenious creative achievement.
On the contrary – certain dangers can arise when too much time is available, and the art definitively lies in the balance between thorough studio-work and fast wrap-up.
To save you some time and maybe even open your eyes to some extent, I’ve collected some dangers that can arise from long, extensive production phases, that seem to carry on way beyond the point where things groove the way they should.
So here we go!
1) Negating your own intuition
A huge problem about long and weary production phases is the process of negating your own intuition, or acting against that initial, seemingly random way of approaching things.
You kick off the production with fresh ears and mind, creating or directing tracks and molding them into a form that just seems right. As time passes, you start reflecting more and more on those unconscious decisions, to the point where you discredit them while trying to reach an optimum.
A workmode like that can lead to very contradictory actions, like trying to achieve authenticity while constructing and modifying a piece of music to a point where it has – in the worst case scenario – lost the spark that led to its formation.
Try to value your intuition, and keep that alive, even during long production phases!
2) Reshaping things that work
With a lot of time at hand, many musicians think that they can dig way deeper into pieces of music, uncovering layers and developing ideas that otherwise would never have had the chance of being pursued.
While great songs and sound design may, in some cases, claim a lot of time and thought, I’ve experienced situations where authentic, great songs are actually reshaped in the process, turned into something completely new, and possibly less amazing.
Like with the initial creative impulse, its also really important to conserve the value of an existing body of work, without trying to reshape it because various details suddenly don’t work anymore.
Coming up with a great production is often about introducing various elements, that as a combined form, start to work in an closed circuit, much like the mechanisms in a clockwork. If you start reshaping the picture, not only will the unwanted details be discarded, but also many other elements will change and morph into something else.
Be aware of the way small details can – in their interaction with various other elements – act as connection links. Reshaping existing by just picking out elements can gravely change the way you perceive the production and musical content.
3) Micro vs. holistic perspective
A great issue of long-term production is the high risk of getting caught up in details while loosing the overall, holistic perspective.
Obviously, working on the smallest elements and getting all the minor-fragments just right turns an average production into something very, very special. With a lot of time at hand, this chase for the perfect “tweek” can turn into an endless endeavor, not really adding to the overall value of the production.
Try keeping a birds eye view of the entire process, especially if you have more time at hand then you need. You might slip into a workmode that favours getting hung up on the periphery, so be self-aware and stay reflective of your own groove!
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