There is this snare to fix. So you reopen your project, once again. Fix the snare. Tweak this synth. Now it’s good. Next day… there is this riser to improve. So you reopen your project, once again. And again. Seems like you’re never going to finish this track!
Sound familiar? Here’s a technique to actually finish your track much, much faster.
I call it “the laundry list”. It’s a simple technique to apply when you are more or less finished, around 90% done. You know that these remaining 10% can take ages and can even make you hate your track. So here are a few steps to get over it.
Render your track, export it. Then CLOSE your DAW.
Ideally spend a good night without thinking of your track.
The next day, or any time later, get ready for a listening session. This is better done with fresh and rested ears (not after a film, not after a concert, not after a music production session, not after an argument…)
Take a sheet of white paper and a pen, or open a blank Word document or a notepad.
Ready to take notes?
Start to play your rendered track from the beginning, and take notes of everything that you think deserves attention (I make bullet points; even for a track which I thought was pretty well finished I often end up having a “laundry list” of more than 20 items). You can stop your track playing to take the time to write, but do not rewind.
Note: it’s very important that you do this from a rendered file, not from your DAW.
Do this a second time, to hear if there are some points that you missed, and note them.
You have now a comprehensive list of actions to take (that’s my “laundry list”)
Open your DAW.
Process all the points of your list one by one (you don’t need to process them in the order of your list).
Re-listen. If you are happy, render your track.
Next day, with rested ears, re-listen to your rendered track.
It is likely that you’ll discover a few more details to iron out. But your track is now 98% done, not 90%. If you have new points to revise, redo steps 2 and 3 above.
At this point, it’s likely that your track is 100% finished.
This technique is a simple one to get out of the “almost finished” with endless tweaking. In just one or two sessions as described above, your “almost” finished track is now complete!
(tips for producers)