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work/life balance and music making...

Discussion in 'MASCHINE Area' started by Bonus Beats, Aug 27, 2020.

  1. Bonus Beats

    Bonus Beats NI Product Owner

    Wondering if anyone out there also has work/life balance issues they try to over come everyday or every week (how ever often you find yourself making music)?

    I think for a lot of working people this is a very real issue and it is hard to find time to get at "the station" (music making set up) to make music.
    What do you do to overcome the problem and obstacle of working (to pay the bills)? I realize some people work in the music industry and maybe make money, if you're lucky, off music but for the thousands of us that aren't so lucky and have to do a 9-5 or "6-6" to make living how do you find time AND ENERGY to make music?

    Not so many years ago I was able to have time to sit at "the station" for 8-10 hours to make music but now I struggle to find just an hour in a day or a couple hours in a week to actually be productive. Ive tried everything from waking up at 3 am and rushing to a pot of coffee and jumping in front of the computer to mix a song or start a new idea Ive been thinking about before work (usually end up being late to work) to getting jacked up off energy drinks and or coffee so I can feel like I might want to make some grooves after work (bad idea) to downing a 6 pack to try to get the creative juice flowing...

    What works for you? please don't say yoga or mediation lol lets try to be realistic here I already find myself very short on time.

    I think diet and plenty of rest help but a person can still feel tired and just feel like taking a nice nap after work instead. I think I could relate to the more 40 and up repliers rather then the young lads in their 20's at this stage.

    I have tied things like having my computer opening up Maschine and Ableton automatically right when I turn it on to taking the laptop to work, the iPad, the MPC on lunch break but none of those things actually get more any further then just sketching. Some people say just open the DAW with no expectations except that you are only going to work for 5 minutes 15 minutes or whatever and don't feel like you need to sit down and arrange mix and master the track that day (sarcasm).

    A healthy diet, using loops, no cell phones, just sketch, just arrange, just mix? What works best for you? How do you over come the procrastination and the feeling of "I wont finish it so whats the point" mentality?

    make dates with collaborators for inspiration? take days off work? take stay at home vacations? subscribe to sounds.com? buy a plugin? lol. Ive tried them all..

    let me know what you do for motivation because right now my main motivation is to dump all the ideas that I started a long time ago that never get finished and just keep whats really really good sounding and using that as your inspiration for knowing that your heading in the right directions.. aka denial "I'm no that bad of a producer after all"


    just an off topic thread to the typical why does Massive use so much CPU in Maschine? and How do you arrange with Maschine in Logic?

    You know what could be my biggest inspiration? Finishing tracks in Maschine just as fast as you can sketch out the initial ideas in Maschine, that would help me tremendously and add a "lets make another one!!" mentality in the studio... rather then "lets play around with some more loops and presets inside Maschine and make another dead jam that goes nowhere" mentality.

    because basically here I am again after a long days work Im sitting at my desk trying to have inspiration to go somewhere with a track and its becoming to be the middle of the night again and I'm asking myself "why?" lol
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020
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  2. Kaldosh

    Kaldosh NI Product Owner

    I feel you.
    I personally am in a similar situation with not so much time available.
    Best things I could do where to think about my ideal workflow, think about my favourite tools, make templates and make my favourite plugins NKS ready in order to speed up my workflow.
    I try now to anticipate on projects , planing them in my head, thinking about a specific topic, sample, genre..
    When I feel set about it, when I know I have at least 2 hours free, I start sampling, making patterns variations, a bit of sound design etc. Trying to prepare all the components of my track , trying to finish the session at a stage where it is worth pursuing with the clear feeling I'll be happy to open it again and keep working on it. The most tricky when you lack time, is to be in the appropriate mindset when you have the time as it is very tricky to just sit down and do something out of nowhere so leaving a project at the end of a session with clear tasks to achieve for the following one is the best way to get productive right away.
    It doesn't work all the time since if your child comes every 2 secs saying "daddy I can't sleep"..it can be difficult to keep the appropriate mood to work :D.
    All in all I just try to keep organized and find a pattern in my daily life where I can integrate my own free moments and use that time wisely when possible.
    Anyway, for me the best way to use that time is to know ,or think about, before starting using it.
    • Like Like x 4
  3. Uwe303

    Uwe303 NI Product Owner


    i would try to do something every day - let´s say: mon - fri 1h/day and sun-sat 3h/day.
    Take it seriously!!! like a job, also use time to make templates, order things, cut and name samples - you don´t have to be creative all the time
    to do something with music, and later you´ll thank yourself for doing all this boring standard stuff, cause you are ready with a template, if an idea or creative juices are flowing. You even can just listen to music and make notes about what you like and stuff.
    Don´t think in genre boxes, just try out stuff like reaktor for example and the absolutely amazing online library for it - it´s a whole universe in itself!!
    Take a break, refresh your ears with silence. Yeah and sometimes it just doesn´t work, then it is what it is, and a few days/weeks later you´re hungry.
    Colab can also be fun, just to see how someone else is working is worth it, in collaborations you can learn a lot from each other.
    And for me dates are helpful, otherwise i would mix forever - for my own stuff i can´t of course make a date and i just have fun, and don´t have to deliver anything, it´s just my therapy.

    Uwe (41yrs young)
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    THE WIDOWMAKER NI Product Owner

    44 here and it has been an uphill paper round man let me tell you :D:eek::);)

    late nights is my advice if you can't do it any other time, get the family to bed, let the mrs know that 3-4 nights a week you wont be going up with her and commit your time, if you need a nap after work take one, AND PLEASE don't force it. If you are lucky enough to have this as a hobby then treat it as one, hobbies are meant to be enjoyed

    For more years than i care to count it was Friday and Saturday night spinning records til 5am so late nights for me are easy picking thankfully, i had bad insomnia from 14 - 39 so i am naturally a night owl, it may or may not work for you but if you have kids like i do and a family what choice do you really have?> Try it. Most people sleep way too much in my experience and they don't need it.
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  5. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

    Off-topic > I agree that the Maschine forum has basically become a beginner support forum, I am open to hearing suggestions on how to change that but I also don't want the OP hijacked so maybe it could be discussed in its own thread.

    Back to OT: Even the "lucky" people who have more free time can have a lot of those problems.
    I could be completely wrong but it sounds like you might have writer's block? It's common in creatives who have been doing something for a long time, this paired with work, lack of time and daily life stress can really suck the energy out of us turning even a hobby into a chore. Good diet and exercise helps increase energy level and overall happiness. Like Widowmaker said a hobby shouldn't be something you force, it should be the very thing that makes you forget the stress. Even if it's not writer's block research it (maybe beat-block in our case) there's bunch info out there that might help you out.

    To be productive with little time the most important thing, in my opinion, is to have a defined method and to be practical, be strict at the start while adapting to force yourself to stick to the method, it might make the music feel a bit like a job initially too but just like exercising its only hard in the first month or so. In the time I was most productive my process was:

    1 - Take a couple of hours of one day each week to only listen to records, sample, slice the samples and put them all in a custom library - For people who don't sample this can be a day to just go thru synths, make presets, mark favorites, find drums you like, etc... Basically it's prep work without making any music at all. This is for example what Chef's do in Restaurants, prepare things way ahead of time so when the time to cook comes you're way faster, this is done and lots of other creative outlets.

    2 - Have a template with all the stuff you usually do/use already there, basic drums ready to go with a few patterns, your favorite bass and instrument patches, FX's already on the channels/bus, have MIDI controller crap already mapped, timeline makers for your common Sections places, really prepare anything you can think of, it's all just for a starting point and you replace/tweak everything later in each project.

    3 - On the other days you have free time just go thru your sample lib or your saved patches until somethings clicks, since you picked everything there won't be any crappy stuff there to get lost in so you get straight into having fun at the expense of losing the prep day.

    4 - Remix yourself - Open a project, remove all the MIDI, change all the drums samples and start over with that base, its a nice method to cook something up fast.

    5 - Always arrange a track while making it, even if its a basic arrangement, and export an MP3, doing it while you're excited it is a lot easier than in the next session in my experience; only skip this if you really aren't liking the track you're making, if so.. just delete. If you really don't have time for it than do it in the next session before starting a new project, endlessly postponing things is a very bad practice. Final Mixing and especially Mastering can be done later IMO, it can often be more technical than creative, by exporting your arrangements you can sometimes sit down and quickly listen to yourself and pick something you like to fully mix and master, maybe do some arrangement refinements, edits, post-production, etc...

    Ultimately finishing tracks is a skill like any other, the more you do it the easier it becomes, after a while, it's second nature but if you never do it it will only become harder and harder. Just my 2 cents, hope it helps.
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  6. JesterMgee

    JesterMgee NI Product Owner

    All good advice there, follow much of the same myself.

    I'll be 40 next year and have been plugging away since I was 12 years old DJing on home made equipment and then producing starting off with Fasttracker II in 1995.

    When I was a young kid I had nothing but time to kill living in a small town with only 400 population but was also very inspired by all the music I was getting into, not just pop but older classic rock my parents listened to, classic stuff my grandparents listened to who lived next door and all the new sounds of the 90s... Was a great time to discover music.

    One thing I never had to compete with was distractions such as the internet, phones and everything else that takes up valuable creative time. You need to be bored and "un-stimulated" sometimes to allow ideas to form and creativity to spark and that's probably the first piece of advice I can give is to never "force" your creativity because it will feel like work and you just won't feel driven to do anything. Sometimes the best thing to do is literally nothing, If it is not your job, don't stress and if it is your job, don't stress because time helps to make things happen, just sit back for a bit and let go of some time (as in do something else for a bit).

    Some people work well when setting boundaries and limits and plan the time they want to do things... I'm a very organised person and have tried all the productivity approaches to manage my time but when you are limited in a day, sometimes your scheduled "come up with an idea" time doesn't work and that can make you feel more useless in the end.

    To echo what D-One has said, sometimes I will just organise my samples, flip through presets and just jam out, decide I want to build a new percussion kit or a new template or check out a new effect/instrument in more detail. Sometimes I will hear a song and instantly love just a certain chord or tone it has, rip out my phone, record it and then go and just create that little piece which if it has some nice sound to it gets me instantly excited to start making something. Remixing or "imitating" some sounds is a great way to get started on something.

    Once I get going I have a very refined process on how I keep myself interested and keep plugging away at a project to get it done. Here is how I tend to work (tho in Ableton not Maschine)...

    - Have an idea I like from somewhere and get that basic idea down often just using a basic instrument and a basic kit in a style I am thinking... Always have some basic drum kits at the ready to drop in and get going.
    - Once I have the basic few patterns down, save this as my project
    - If I still have ideas coming I will instantly save my project again as project01.ext. This is an important one for me which was originally to create backups but is now a progression indicator. Every day I start on the project I open it and save a new version. This helps to show me that I am making progress and also keeps a record of how the idea started and has progressed. I can end up with 50 project files sometimes.
    - Usually I will sketch out a whole idea using clips then create a "lego brick arrangement" where I use the ideas and layer it out as a track in a length I am thinking usually with just basic cuts and no transitions.
    - Once I have a structure, add markers and slice it up into sections to work on (like verse/chorus) and start adding variance, other instruments,
    - change out the drums, and other instruments as I go
    - Start adding effects and shaping everything as I progress
    - Start mixing the tracks to EQ things together
    - Add automation and fills, transitions etc
    - Lastly this takes ages, do the final balancing and "mastering" where I may just tweak one little thing here and there.

    I always render out a wav and MP3 after each session so I can load it up and play it whenever I like and often will just hear something after a break that I want to change and that will get me going.

    I have 2 jobs I work from home, kids, a home I am renovating constantly at the moment and due to the hectic nature of things planning my time isn't always easy so I can easily go weeks without creating anything and in decades gone by I would thing "well that's the end of my interest in music then"... But an idea comes along and sometimes in just a few days I create something i'm pretty happy with and then wonder where that idea even came from and have learned to just be happy there and treat it as a way to relax and keep my brain from hopefully dying a slow death with dementia when I get older.

    Don't feel ur a failure or whatever, sometimes good ideas need a bit of time to manifest, not every track will be finished and it's perfectly fine to have 100 unfinished ideas to every finished project. Call it the cost of progress and it's all learning. If it passes the time and you feel interested to go back still, it's worthy of your time even if it seems you have less to devote. Also perfectly fine to realise you just don't have time/interest in it anymore and move on.
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  7. tempsperdu

    tempsperdu NI Product Owner

    For some reason Maschine gelled with me right from the moment I got it in a way no other instrument has. I had been looking for a 'drum solution' and nearly got a Korg Pad Kontrol. I had a sort of drum solution with my Korg M50 but found playing drums with keys bothersome. When I saw Maschine it seemed to be a total solution, (yes, naivety and ignorance are severely underrated:D)

    I can't not get ideas with it to date and whilst I do find frustrations with it, it has enabled me to put stuff together I'd never have managed otherwise.
    As others have said.... it should be fun and if you start to force it, do something else for a while. I, too, find that I get the best results when my mind appears to be almost totally empty and I just do things almost unconsciously.

    Because I'm not in any way a musician and have the equivalent of a master’s degree in incompetence I find if I try to contrive what I think I want to do, not only does it not work, it always goes in another direction anyway. (LOL I tried to do something with the vibe of Crazy in Love and it ended up half sounding like Steve Reich played by a very dubious almost acoustic jazz band even if I liked the final result.)

    This brings me onto another questionable 'truism'..... Don't censor yourself... if you start doing something that sounds naff, corny, overly silly, unusual... so what.... listen to it again when you've got away from it and it may surprise you with its usability.

    I'm kind of lucky in that I've no offspring and am a full time live in carer so although that means I can't do things as and when maybe I'd like to, I can in the main catch ideas as I get them and put the bare rudiments down. If not there's always humming it into your mobile. This is especially good in supermarkets as you can get people to easily think you should perhaps be sectioned which is always entertaining and even possibly true.
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  8. skhm

    skhm NI Product Owner

    In my opinion there’s only two ways of actually getting good at it.

    if you have songs in your head, you should do everything in your power to realize them.

    if you’re like the majority and build upon (manipulated) samples you found or created, you need to do everything in your power to find methods. You need to work to get methodically.

    As every artist, you get up with this **** and it should be the last thing you think about before falling asleep.

    if you’re not obsessed with it and keep your sanity and you consider it a hobby, then just relax and get some stuff done on sundays.
  9. GoKeez

    GoKeez NI Product Owner

    I’m 42. Music was a hobby that became my profession and now it’s back to mostly being something I love and hate to do. Sort of like a wife.lol Or atleast according to my friends and other married folk I observe.

    I digress.

    People divorce all the time. Perhaps you should try a trial separation period from music altogether. You may find something much more fulfilling to do with those few hours you have outside of the priorities you’ve defined at this point in life. Perhaps just the desire to do it isn’t enough. Breakups are painful for a time but necessary to move on and be fulfilled.

    A lot of people love and desire their spouses but not enough to do the things necessary to sustain a healthy relationship with them. Some poor blokes plug away miserably in shitty relationships forever, others find a way to restore passion, and others move on and find that life is full of other better options. For many, a new relationship with something or someone else restores them. Different strokes...nevermind.lol. I hope the metaphor makes sense atleast.

    I myself stepped away from music for 5 years once my placements and opptys dried up in Atlanta. Moved to Miami and found that the beach, ocean, new views, learning a new hobby (photography and filming) restored my creative drive.

    Today, I’m back to the beats. Built a new production rig around Mk3 and S49 and have never been more productive. 5 years ago at 37 i didn’t feel like I had time to walk away and return to anything worthwhile as far as music was concerned but I was spent, frustrated and desperate for a new vibe.

    Turns out, I’m having more fun, more focused and busier now than ever. Even taking the time to learn Maschine and new workflows after staying committed and loyal to my dysfunctional relationship with Akai all of my life. Still love her but our relationship is open and I’m more passionate about my Entanglement with Maschine atm.lol

    Sometimes, walking away....even for just a time is the best thing you can do.
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  10. omegatron

    omegatron NI Product Owner

    Speaking as an older dad of two kids age 2.5 and 3 months I can honestly say for me at least it can be super tough to find the time/energy to be creative in the rare pockets of downtime I get between the day job and caring for my family, what I did finally submit to was the fact even my downtime at home isn't really my own anymore so now I use my lunch break at work try and get stuff done as there are no distractions or demands on me for that hour a day, sometime I get plenty done and other days I just re listen to older beats I made and do a bit of mixing practice or something, doesn't sound like much but 5hrs a week is a lot more than I was getting so I'm thankful for that and I'm very lucky to have two great kids and a lovely partner to share them with...
    I think my point is that if you want it bad enough you can always find a way to make stuff happen within the constraints of what real life has to throw at you...
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2020
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  11. ze303

    ze303 NI Product Owner

    48 years, doing music just for fun, occupied 9 hour each day with an busy IT job. Doing Music for brain cell training , to keep the mind busy, to learn something new.

    The reality however is

    You cannot sit before PC or synth 16 hour each day if you have a certain age. It may work for a while younger, but not when grown old.

    Find a good sport, either Tai Chai, Yoga, Pilates or Chross Fit. A human body needs some pain.Either you do it with some good Sports, or the pain comes from alone.

    Walking away some days or weeks from musik making helps. When messed up enough with a project to stop. Always doing it when I messed enough with an project.

    Listen to some music, watch some videos. Want to start Maschine but don't do. I even force me to watch TV for an evening to bore me out. Do more sports.

    Until I cannot hold if anymore like a crack junkie and hammer Maschine in Long night session.

    Everyone need to find his own balance, but that Sport thing, started Tai Chi 6 years ago was the best I ever made. After work I do an 30-60 minutes some Sports, but then you I am able to run some late night sessions with Maschine.

    Findig the right Sport is IMO the most relevant for an 40 something. The body will collapse and rotten else. It is sad, but it it reality.

    You need to fu.k you body, or it will fu.k you.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2020