Advice: a better system for finishing tracks!

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Hi all

How do you keep track of all your projects when they’re just works-in-progress?

For example, let’s say you have a tonne of half-finished stuff, one track just needs mixing, another needs to swap out the vocal sample for a guest vocal and a new bassline, another is only a 4-second loop for now, another has 20 things you need to fix, etc.

I know I could just put it in Excel, but has anyone got a better system that makes this bit of admin less painful, and turns it into a motivating ‘to-do’ list?

Thanks!


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Telecaster American Deluxe, Cornell Romany amp, without the talent to use them properly
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Comments

  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 604
    I think your solution of an excel, is probably the most useful.
    Ideas / projects get added to the list, with columns for certain criteria also added as the workload changes / increases.
    I don't do it, probably should do it, and will try to make time to do it.
    It is always possible to start doing it, and make it just another process to be done at the end of a session - keep it in the cloud so it is available from any device to allow notes to be added during listening sessions, and I would say that the google version of excel would be preferable.
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  • Cheers @andy_k , could be one of those things I spend far too much time searching for a solution for, when I should be actually making music. Still, if anyone's got something that works wonderfully, I'm interested!


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    Telecaster American Deluxe, Cornell Romany amp, without the talent to use them properly
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  • Its very rare that if something doesn't get completed to full demo stage within a few months that I will ever come back to it so I kinda just remember it in my head.

    Once its demo'd and the band commits to it it will then eventually make it onto a release where it will be totally retracked from scratch.
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  • Notebook and pen?
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  • I always constantly work on a song so end up with endless versions of the same session called things like Another day song, Another day song 2, Another day song 3 .... Day A, Day AA, Day final, Day final final 
    Eventually though that gets opened for the last time, every plugin removed, all tracked consolidated form zero point and all unused files deleted. Then it gets put in a folder called "for Ivan" and Wetransfered to the mix guy. 

    A know a couple of guys who use project management software for album making though and I'm sure they get things done smoother and more organised than i do. 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • GrangousierGrangousier Frets: 1552
    edited September 2021
    What I've found is that I've got a bunch of snippets that I occasionally open and play through, when I'm too bored or tired to do anything else - these will sometimes get expanded.

    When they're close enough to a track (or when I record a whole track, which is more the case recently), I'll save a rough mix and run it through the loudness plugin in Ozone to get it up to a standard sort of level, then add it to an appropriate playlist, which becomes a quasi-album. The tracks don't have to be finished - some don't have vocals or top lines, some are just demos of songs - but it's useful to put them into a context to hear them.

    I'll play the album, put the tracks in a pleasing order and make notes on what to change in my to do list app. Any track I don't want to listen to at all gets shunted to another playlist for the runts and strays, in case I change my mind or think of a way to make it work. 

    When I listen to the album and don't have any notes left, it's done.  Sometimes there'll be two or three versions of an "album" with different combinations of tracks and running orders.

    It's useful to listen in a format where you can't actually make a change at that moment - much better to make a note, then when you open the file in the DAW listen to the multitrack and see whether the note is actually right. Often the issue you spot isn't an issue at all, or it can be addressed a different way. 

    When a track is changed, I re-export the mix and it replaces the old version in the playlist. 

    FYI, my DAW is Logic Pro X.
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  • Thanks all, obviously I'm not itching to use the horror that is Excel. I just I have two bands, each with a few tracks in progress (and studio recording time looming), and I can't hold all the individual bits of work needed in my head. I've just got a list, and maybe that's all I need, but still interesting to hear people's approach!


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    Telecaster American Deluxe, Cornell Romany amp, without the talent to use them properly
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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 604
    Just to expand a little on my earlier suggestion, I try and keep my main machine for music production, a creaking 2012 MBP, running Reaper, away from as much non music software as possible, and try to keep all the stuff I need updated.
    My B machine, for taking out and about, is a similarly creaking Asus Win 10 Zenbook, also running Reaper, but with less Ilok dependant plugins. Again, I try and keep it updated, but I think Windows is trying to kill it.
    For all my general browsing and YT etc, I like to use a cheap Chromebook, which is where I have access to a spreadsheet.
    This is how all my written stuff stays synced, through G drive, and this means I can access the files on any machine with a browser open, obviously Chrome.
    I have been thinking for quite a while now, how to proceed when my MBP dies, and at least Apple have still made it an easy choice, with the M1 Mac mini, which seems pretty much unbeatable now.
    No to digress too far, I'm really saying, I wouldn't touch MS Excel with a dirty bargepole, but the Google alternative does make it pretty easy to have a single, centralised document available wherever and whenever needed.
    Off to start a nice template ready for my next project, and also to try and fill in some backdated stuff, thanks for the kick to do it.
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  • andy_k said:

    No to digress too far, I'm really saying, I wouldn't touch MS Excel with a dirty bargepole
    No, neither would I, horrible thing it is. Glad I've kickstarted something for you!


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  • My latest trick has been a "to do" a checklist in the native notes app on mac. But I've made myself a generic checklist of "to do's" that I must do for each project.

    Back to your original question though, Trello could help. https://trello.com/en-GB



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  • I just never finish tracks  :/
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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 604
    Spent a couple of hours this morning, setting up and formatting a Google docs spreadsheet, in A4 landscape, with a few relevant headings, doesn't take long at all. The main thing will be to try and keep it tidy and simple enough to make it easy to use.
    I have started to work backwards from today with all the projects I have done this year, which isn't that much really, maybe 40, although I don't feel like I have been productive at all.
    Quite interesting to see how many things start as little ideas, which get developed up to a point and then forgotten, so at least this idea of a database helps to at least help a good idea not go to waste.
    I need anything to help inspiration these days, and the desire to have things organised is always there, still in the process of getting all the actual projects backed up, which is daunting when you see how long a few hundred gigs of data takes over USB.
    The current plan is to get a printed copy to allow me to scribble while I am working, which will get input onto the document as and when, I have started this kind of thing before as a way to decide which projects to work on,which always seems to fizzle out. The desire to do 'new' stuff always seems to take precedent.
    The Database project is something I highly recommend, very useful.
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  • Would you mind sharing a screen print to give us a general idea of how you're organising it please?
    www.pianomatt.co.uk - Wedding and Event Pianist in the West Midlands
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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 604
    The idea is to keep it fairly simple, and to make it easy to use.
    I thought it might be good to use colours in a similar way to the way I use them in Reaper, to make tracks easy to follow.
    Copy and paste the coloured blocks to keep track of a project, and obviously more columns can be added, but the knock on is that it might not fit on an A4 Landscape and be readable.
    I always use Magenta for my final mix bus, so at least I can see which projects have been 'completed', mix versions can just have a number added, and raw audio and raw midi can be further altered to raw REC, or imported MIDI, etc etc,
    I do a lot of stuff with Stems, and usually a project will be completed from stems, so that is another sign that a project is nearing completion.
    I managed to get this years work ( 40 projects) on the first sheet, and the second was just to give space for scribbling, I'm not sure how to sort projects yet, could be a use of the N ( number ) column, or dates maybe? but I have gone newest at top for now.
    I am by no means good with spreadsheets, but there are probably millions of clever hidden features that can be incorporated, links to more detailed documents for each project is probably a simple process.
    Any advice on improvements is welcome.
    cheers
    andy k
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  • SnagsSnags Frets: 3353
    Alternative to Excel if you want something less structured would be something like OneNote (or EverNote or one of the other similar packages).

    I use OneNote for working on lyrics, and have different sections for "In Progress" and "Done", then one page in each section for each song/lyric. Another section for covers, both to hold lyrics when I'm learning/remembering, and to hold a list of shit I know (because I forget what I know) and of songs to look at doing. And then a section for set lists etc. to record what I've done where/when in public (I'm less good at maintaining the covers/set lists bit, so ought to get on that).

    My recording time/process is so limited at the moment I haven't bothered with that, but when that gets going I'll probably do something similar, with a page for each song.

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