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Making Moves: 4 Tips For Producing Music On The Go

You’re a busy person. You don’t always have time to sit down and get a block of work done in the studio. Life, and all its complications, mean that the time you have is very precious. So how do you still get the time to make music? 

Well, you don’t always need to get into the recording studio to get most things done. We wanted to look at 4 tips for how you can get more music made while you’re on the move. 

1. Turn it into a game.

There are so many apps for making music. We’re all guilty of spending a ton of time on our phones scrolling through Instagram or rage tweeting at Wendy’s about their burgers. (Hey, it’s a stress reliever.) But that time could be better spent making loops. Instead of swiping or playing games why not get one of the more fun music apps. (I love Figure. it’s helped me start about 6, and create a bank of loops I can go back to) But there are tons of great apps out there. Including ones emulating the MPC or Kaosilator and other hardware devices.  

While you’re not going to be able to make full tracks on all of them. They are a great way to build up a bank of small musical ideas. You could crank out 10 loops on your commute, and bash them into a folder on your computer later. Then in the future when you’re looking for inspiration you’ve got somewhere to turn to. The key is to make playing with music these apps fun. If it feels like work it’s going to feel harder to slot it in as a fun alternative to that freemium game that’s taking up your Screentime. 

2. Use your head(phones).

Work on headphones. A laptop plus headphones is a great way to get a lot done. A professional sound engineer once told me: “You need $350 open-backed, frequency balanced headphones to do good mixes.” But I’d honestly rather not mix on the move. There are tons of other stages of the music production process that can be done on less-than-perfect headphones. 

Leave the mixing and sound design for the studio, but things like composition and arranging can be done anywhere. Just get the ideas down while you’re on the train or subway, or waiting for a meeting in a cafe. It’s called a laptop. you’ve already got a lap, just add headphones and you can get a ton of different things done. 

3. Let’s go outside.

Once I get to a certain point with a track I like to bounce it out, and take the music for a walk. There are a few reasons for this. The main one being that I can’t stop and make changes every time I hear something that needs work. This is my productivity Achilles heal, and I waste a lot of time diving into details and not keeping an eye on the big picture. Taking a bounced track out for a walk, or a drive, means you have to listen to the song without being able to change anything. Although word to the wise, take notes when you do this. If you don’t you’ll get back to your DAW forget most of the things you planned to do unless I have a list. 

Sometimes you might also be inspired by the sounds happening around you when you do this. How the music interacts with the rhythm of the underground or the sounds of the birds. If it adds life to the music in a way you’re not expecting try add adding similar sounds to your music. See the recent Producer Confidential article on Found sound: 4 tips for making your beats unique [ADD LINK] for other ideas about using unconventional sounds in your music. 

Bonus: You’ll also be getting some exercise and time away from your screen, which is good for your general health. And getting some exercise too. You can’t make music when you’re sick. Unless you’re J Dilla, but that guy was a musical god. 

4. Mic It Up.

It’s possible to record while travelling. This is gonna be easier to do if you’re not a rock band. But as this site is called Producer Confidential I’m going to assume that you’re more on the computer music side of things than live instrumentation. If you mostly produce inside the box, then all you need is a mic to get vocals down. And depending on what kind of vocals you’re recording it might not even need to be a very good mic. (Although if you’re writing vocal lead bangers then a decent recording chain is crucial.)

The key to getting good vocal takes on the go is learning how to be a guerilla recording engineer. Street noise too loud during the day? Record at night. Is the air conditioning too noisy? Block it or turn it off. And don’t forget to do what most underground producers do when they record vocals: pack the room with soft fabrics to deaden the sound and possibly even get under a blanket to cut out any unwanted reverberation. Hell even Billie Eilish, the new queen of pop, recorded a lot of her most famous vocal takes in her bedroom, mic in hand. 

The mixdown

Music is about being creative with what you’ve got. So don’t let the fact that you’re on the road, or you don’t have all the right equipment, stop you. Even with a few free apps for your phone, or honestly your phone’s headphones you can get good ideas down. The key is not to let the lack of the perfect environment or perfect resources stop you from making music. You got this. 

If you’ve nailed the getting started and are looking for some dope samples from some of the world’s best producers, check out the Producer Confidential Production Stacks. They’re packs full of some of the world’s best samples – that you won’t find anywhere else. Creating is about inspiration and motivation. You bring the motivation and the Producer Confidential Production Stacks will definitely bring the inspiration.

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