Contemporary Film and TV Soundtracks

Something a bit different this week, here are 5 of my favourite pieces of contemporary film and TV music:

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Productivity - Quick Tips

Following on from the last article which featured an in depth look at Productivity, here are some practical tips for you to try:

  • Break your day down into sections considering what tasks and projects you will work on and when.
  • Experiment with different task management and productivity software - putting time into finding a system that works for you can help to save you time in the long run.
  • If you don’t like software and prefer physical lists try journaling techniques such as bullet journals or template journals.
  • Remove obvious distraction such as your phone, tablet, email or internet access.
  • Remove less obvious distractions such as equipment you don’t need for a given project.
  • Start your day with exercise.
  • Consider mindfulness practices including meditation, affirmations and gratitude.
  • Setting yourself incentives can be a great way to self motivate.

I also spoke to 3D artist Tarik Ali from
ArtBeatAway and he shared a few of his productivity tips:

  • I listen to music on Spotify, it is a fantastic source of music to match the mood you are in and it helps concentration when working at home on your own.
  • In between tasks, even it is just for 5-10mins, I undertake quick tasks including making sure all my accounts are up-to-date so I don’t have a mad rush at the end of the tax year. 
  • I find that getting out of your work room for lunch and small breaks can be a great help.  When I am busy I sometimes find it hard to make time for small breaks, but when I do I find myself much more productive and refreshed when I return.
  • Be critical of your work but don’t put yourself down, if you are not happy with it and you have done your best, take some time to learn some new techniques to utilise and move forward.

If you would like to get in touch either visit the contact page or email info@theaudiotapes.com. You can find me on Twitter @MDennyMusic or visit my website at www.michaeldennymusic.com. Read More…

Productivity

A quick Google search defines productivity as ‘the state of being productive’ and ‘the effectiveness of productive effort, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input’.

When thinking about my own professional practice, to me ‘productivity’ means:

  • Making the most of my time
  • Getting the best out of my equipment and resources
  • Maximising the effectiveness of my output
  • Prioritising tasks, projects and goals
  • Learning from each project I undertake

The Importance of Planning and Preparation


Planning and preparation are key to staying productive and focussed, particularly when you are self employed. In an ideal world we would all be productive all of the time, but that is simply not possible so having techniques to get past this mindset can be invaluable. Here are a few approaches to planning and preparation that I have found useful. I set targets with appropriate timescales to stay on track, this means defined short term targets on a daily, weekly or fortnightly basis and holistic aims for the mid and longer term. I also like to keep my studio environment clean, tidy and clutter free, and where possible have my equipment setup ready to go when inspiration strikes.

Project Management and Tracking

When self employed it is essential to manage all aspects of a project properly from administration of contracts, invoices and emails through to creative tasks including composing, mixing and mastering. I use a number of tools to track my projects and manage to-do lists, here are my go-tos:

OmniFocus - I use OmniFocus to keep an overview of all my projects, tasks and their current status. OmniFocus can be as simple or as complex as you like and how you manage your projects in the software is very flexible. Key features of OmniFocus include the scheduling of repeated tasks (such as hard drive backups or weekly website checks), the review function which allows you to evaluate each project on a pre-set timescale, and the inbox function which allows you to ‘dump’ tasks that you can return to and schedule at a more suitable time.

Apple Notes - I love the simplicity of Apple Notes for saving ideas, drafting articles and making project notes and the synchronisation between the iPhone and MacBook means I always have my information available.

Microsoft Excel - when working on projects such as library music albums that require a large number of tracks with different edits and stems I create a grid so I can see a quick overview of what I still need to complete. I can also keep basis notes here such as the progress of the track (demo, submitted, approved, changes required etc).

Notepads - sometimes nothing beats scribbling down ideas in a notepad or crossing completed tasks off a to-do list with an actual real life pen! Notepads are also a great way to start off the creative process when generating ideas for blog articles, song titles, album concepts and sample packs while also making notes for changes during playbacks of my tracks.

Getting Stuff Done - Deadlines

Setting targets is a powerful motivator, but working with deadlines can be a surefire way of getting a project over the line. This may be a client set deadline or one which you have self-imposed. It is important when setting self imposed deadlines to challenge yourself while remaining realistic. The reality of self-imposed deadlines is that they can be easy to dismiss, but for royalty based income such as sample packs and library music this means that the sooner the work is completed, the sooner it can be released and potentially making you money.

Reflective Practice

Reflective practice is a concept that has been present throughout my education, from evaluating science experiments at school to writing composition project reports at University. It wasn’t however until I studied critical reflection in further depth at Masters level that I truly embraced the value of reflection and how to make the most of this skill. For me, reflection in relation to productivity and my music career involves asking myself questions such as:

  • Could I have communicated with the client differently to improve the workflow and better understand the project requirements?
  • Did I track and manage the project as smoothly as I could?
  • Are there any new skills I could learn to help with similar projects moving forward?
  • Are there any sounds in this project I’d like to save as presets to use again?

I hope this article gives you some ideas to consider with regards to your own career, and if you liked this article please check back next week when I will be featuring a number of quick productivity tips for you to try. If you would like to get in touch either visit the contact page or email info@theaudiotapes.com. You can find me on Twitter @MDennyMusic or visit my website at www.michaeldennymusic.com. Read More…

Leeds College of Music - Alumni Interview

Recently I returned to Leeds College of Music 10 years after graduating…to find out more about what I do you can read the interview with the alumni team here:

https://www.lcm.ac.uk/about-us/alumni/alumni-profiles/michael-denny/

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