I saw a quote recently that I found really inspiring and informative. Every now and then, you come across something which gives you a new appreciation of your craft; allowing you to approach a concept with which you're so familiar from an altogether new angle.
That quote was simply; Music is an artform using the medium of time.
It got me thinking; when you're a painter, your canvas is a literal canvas, but when you're a musician, you canvas is time.
We create music to fill spaces of time.
So, when we are making music, the time we spend in the process of creating it is just as important as the time of the music itself. I'm sure we would all be surprised if we found out how many hours of time went into the making of a 3 minute track, from writing and recording, to mixing and mastering.
One of the most important things we can do, then, is make sure the time we spend making music is used as efficiently as possible.
So in this guide I'm going to focus on some housekeeping tips which can really help you manage your time when you're making music.
This is especially important for many of us, because we live busy lives and need to fit our music making in around other responsibilities. (Seriously, try and spend 4 hours on a track when you have a 3 year old running around!)
For this guide, we will be focusing on Logic Pro, and giving you some insights and tips as to how you can make your work in Logic more efficient, and spend more of your time making your music instead of getting bogged down in DAW menus.
Decluttering your Virtual Space
I often discuss this, because its such an important part of music production (and life!). Decluttering your space can work wonders for your productivity and wellbeing, it's one of the big tips you'll see on any lifestyle or wellbeing blog. A chaotic space creates a chaotic mind!
The same concept is true with your virtual DAW environment.
If your DAW menus are full of samples, plugins or other content that you're not using, it's taking up not only hard drive space, but mental space too.
You'd be surprised at how much it can affect your process if your menus are clogged with unnecessary junk. Freeing yourself of this by doing some digital housekeeping can really help streamline your music making process, and while it may seem like these tips will only save you seconds or minutes of time, this adds up in the long run, meaning you're working towards maximising the time spent at your DAW that is actually producing music, rather than menu diving or sample searching.
So, there are a few different ways you can declutter things in Logic Pro. Let's explore them.
Your Logic project files can quickly become bogged down with excess audio files, and if your computer has storage limitations, this could be slowing things down and taking up valuable hard drive real estate.
The project folder contains your Audio Files folder, which can quickly fill up if you're not careful. Unless you clear it out, this will contain all of the audio you've used or recorded in your project, not just the final versions.
So, you can alleviate this by heading to Logic's Media File Browser (which is the button in the top right of the main window), and select the Project tab. You can then hit the Edit menu, and choose Select Unused. You can see this pictured below.
Working with Samples
Back when I was using Logic as my main DAW, the sampler instrument EXS24 was in its prime. Nowadays, Logic's sampler instrument is called simply Sampler, and it stores its samples in a couple of different ways.
Within each patch, there are the individual sample files that are used, as well as the Sampler Instrument file itself, which contains the information and data about the sample mapping.
Logic installs its factory samples at Library / Application Support / Logic, and providing you don't have any concerns about hard drive space (which you can help if you followed the tips above) then you can install your own patches and samples in the same folder. However, if you do have an issue with storage space, you can store these on an external hard drive.
Now what's worth noting is that Instrument files for your default factory sounds go in this folder too, but if you create any of your own Sampler Instruments, they go in a different folder.
If you head over to Users / Name / Music / Audio Music Apps / Sampler Instruments / Auto Sampled, this is where Logic creates instrument files created in Auto Sampler. So it can help to create other sub folders in this folder where you can store your created Sampler Instruments.
Another way to save time when you're working is to spend a bit of time organising your plugins.
If you're like me, you'll have a selection of go-to plugins that you will use most often, so it can be worth organising these into a Favourites folder so you don't have to go digging through all of the menus to find them.
You can see above a screengrab of Logic's Plug-in Manager, where you can see your plugins organised by manufacturer, as well as into Logic's default categories.
Now there's no one single way to do things here; you can organise your plugins in whatever way makes most sense to you.
You may find it useful collecting all of your favourites into a Favourites folder, as we mentioned above, but you can also just drag each of your plugins into the corresponding default folders created by Logic. So if you have a really good compressor that you're always using, you could move it so it's located in the Dynamics folder.
If you want to create a new folder for your plugins, you can hit the Plus button next to the Categories label.
While this tip seems trivial, you'd be surprised at how much time you can save, and how much you can remain locked into your creative flow, if you have all of your plugins placed in folders which are organised to your liking and quickly accessible.
New Year, New You!
As we approach the end of 2022 (already!!!) it's a really good opportunity to take the time to do a bit of clearing out of your DAW and virtual music making environments. You can even do this in your physical studio environment too!
Chances are, you may be getting yourself some new musical goodies this Holiday season, and this is always a good opportunity to streamline what you're already working with before bringing in something new.
If you're like me, a New Year is a huge motivator to start some new goals and aspirations, and maybe streamlining your music making process could be one of those.
So, hopefully this little guide helped you get your head around some ideas behind decluttering and organising things in Logic Pro.
While you're here, be sure to check out some of our project templates. These are professionally recreated tracks made by our team of international producers, and you can download them and get your teeth into the workings of a fully fleshed out track, to see the tricks of the trade and what techniques make a professional level track work.