The pre-production process of music production is the planning stage. If we go back to my previous article, I mentioned that planning is everything in creating your next hit song. A plan of attack makes your workflow smooth and guides you step by step until you reach your goal. You may be able to record a song without it, but, your work will not be as solid as it should. Unfortunately, worst case scenario, you might end up without any song recorded at all. So, how important is pre-production? It is very important because it is the crucial part of the entire song recording process.
My Pre-Production Process
When I begin a new project, I always begin with the end in mind. What does this mean? It means I start the project with a very distinct and clear idea of what my result is. I already have a clear picture of how my song will sound. When you have clarity in what you want to achieve, your actions will be defined. In each step you take, the plan that you have put in place will help you steer in the right direction. What helps me get to my goal is a 4-step process that I regularly follow.
The 4 steps are the following:
- Writing the song
- Arranging the song
- Recording the demo
The steps are vital in the formation of your masterpiece. The pre-production process’ goal is for you to have a song that is ready for recording. You cannot hit the arm and record button just like that. If you skip over these steps and just rely on the spur of the moment, you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. What you did not do will create problems for you.
Planning The Next Steps
You have a goal to record your first hit song. You ask yourself, “What should I do now?”
Plan using the 4 steps of the Pre-production process. In each step, there are mini-steps. Come up with a checklist or a to-do list for each step. Checklists are good for your business. They are there because they help us remember things! When we do things that involve several action steps, it’s more likely that we forget one or two of them.
So when you have a checklist, not only that it helps you remember what you need to do but it also:
- Helps you save time – it makes you efficient
- Lets you delegate – if you want to outsource some of your tasks; for example, you want someone to mix the song for you, your checklist will immensely help the person to gauge where you are in the workflow and have an idea of what you exactly want
- Makes you more creative – you have more leeway to do more creative stuff like writing more songs, or doing other things that you love
- Provides a visual representation of what you do – every entry is crossed off which shows your progress. If you are a visual learner, you become more organized, and what you expect to accomplish within the day happens
- Decreases anxiety – when you use checklists, you become familiar with the process. What you do becomes part of your routine
- Encourages you to be flexible – repetitive use of checklists allows you to be aware of certain variations and changes in your schedule, thus, makes you accept the changes easily and adjust to them
- Helps you maintain your focus
How to Create Your Own Pre-Production Checklist
Creating a checklist or a To-Do list is pretty easy. Here are the steps:
- Jot down all the steps to take in each process. Be specific.
- Do prioritization. When you have finished writing down the action steps, try to organize them by the level of priority. Determine which action can be finished in the less amount of time vs the step that requires more time. You can also organize by level of importance.
- Determine which actions should be done in the morning, noon or evening. Daily?
- Determine which actions require frequency. For example, mixing tracks every Wednesdays and Fridays.
An example of a Pre-Production Checklist
- Check the song theme
- Check if the lyrics of the song is strong and applicable to your targeted listeners
- Confirm if the song melody has fully captured the essence of the lyrics. Do they sound glued together?
- Arrange intro section
- Arrange outro section
- Check arrangement of the song
- Check tempo
- Identify the instruments to use for the song
- Identify how many back-up vocals to use
- Plan how long the song should be
- Check the tempo. Should it be fast or slow?
So, start planning and build your checklist! What about you? Do you find planning valuable? Are you in agreement that checklists can help you get to your goal? Do you disagree? I want to know your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.