#23: 10x Your Productivity And Creativity By Using Checklists And Templates

#23: 10x Your Productivity And Creativity By Using Checklists And Templates

When you hear "checklists and templates", creativity is not the first thing that comes to mind, right?

It sounds like the exact opposite and we as typically right-brained artists tend to avoid those things like the plague. 

But the truth is:

Checklists and Templates enable you to be truly creative, because if you use them to your advantage, your brain doesn't need to waste energy on the non-creative, repetitive tasks anymore and is free to focus on what really matters: The art.

In this episode we talk about three main benefits of checklists and templates in music production:

We explain why and how they help you...

  1. ...save time
  2. ...be more creative and have more fun producing
  3. ...avoid mistakes

And finally, we give you specific examples of checklists and templates that you can implement right now to 10x your productivity and creativity.

Book Recommendation:

The Checklist Manifesto

Malcom's Studio Preparation Guide:

Click here and scroll down to find the download

Free Productivity Software Recommendation:



Related Episode:

Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

#23: 10x Your Productivity And Creativity By Using Checklists And Templates

[00:00:00] Benedikt: [00:00:00] And everything else that is just repetitive, tedious stuff. If that's on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet on your computer, whatever, you don't have to think about that, you just go through it. It's quick, it's easy. You don't make mistakes and you can focus on what's real. This is the self recording band podcast.

The show where we help you make exciting records on your own. Wherever you are, DIY style. Let's go.

Hello and welcome to. The self recording band podcast. I am your host than at the time. I'm here with my cohost Malcolm Owen flood from stone. mastering.com. How are you Markham? 

Malcom: [00:00:38] I'm great, man. Just got back from a trip to Toronto and then a little, a quick family. You get away to a family cabin. And then, uh, now I'm sunburned.

It's just like, so amazingly sunburn. It's 

Benedikt: [00:00:51] like, every time I ask you this, I, I, it feels like every other time, like we, we get to talk, you've been on vacation or on a weekend trip or you're [00:01:00] like sunburn or like weird 10. Uh, lions on your feet or whatever, it's a constant vacation. 

Malcom: [00:01:09] I mean, some of those are work trips, but they're, they're still kind of exotic, so yeah, I've got a pretty good, no complaints.

Benedikt: [00:01:16] Yeah. So traveling has started again for you with, uh, the, the film audio stuff. 

Malcom: [00:01:21] Yes. It's a little rain back, like it's Canada only right now. Um, so I don't, I don't see us getting out of the country for awhile. And then even then there's. Some places that you can't really go, um, then yeah, you have to be really careful.

Uh, we're kind of always watching to see what's going to happen. You know, if things get bad again, they might close down the flight again, who, who knows. So yeah, gotta be careful, but, uh, it was nice getting over to Toronto. I've got a close friend over there and then, uh, the, the drummers we were working with were just amazing as well.

So it was really, really fun. 

Benedikt: [00:01:55] Cool. So how has that cast, this whole thing delayed, like the. [00:02:00] The release plan and everything off that movie at all, because like it's been in the works for awhile, right? 

Malcom: [00:02:05] Yeah. Yeah. I think originally season one deadline was meant to be in June. Um, which now it's, we're recording this in the middle of July.

Uh, so we're probably six months behind or something. That's not really my department at all. Um, they just tell me where I need to be to get audio done. But, um, yeah, I'm, I'm, I think we're a little behind, but you know, everybody's behind everybody's six months behind because of this thing. So it's 

Benedikt: [00:02:30] half a year altogether.

Malcom: [00:02:31] So be, 

Benedikt: [00:02:34] yeah. Um, speaking of that, uh, I'm like couple of months behind as well with the, with the Academy, because I was supposed to launch, um, already. And I haven't because of the same reasons, like, like Kobe totally screwed up everything that I had planned, but, um, I'm on the. Like close to the finish line on the home stretch.

Um, everything's been filmed and, uh, like there's some final editing to be done and then I can [00:03:00] finally launch that thing. And, um, yeah, if you're not on the waiting list, do it sign up. Uh, if you go to the self recording band.com/academy waiting list. You can sign up for that. And you'll be the first to know when the Academy launches and, um, yeah, there will be some special things for you if you are on that list.

So it's been, it's just a matter of weeks, I think. And then we've got to go. 

Malcom: [00:03:24] Yeah, so exciting. 

Benedikt: [00:03:25] Yeah. That's like, I can't wait. It's the first time I've done something like this. I've already told you, like I've never been that exhausted. I think it's been the most exhausting year that I've had so far in my career because I mixed a ton of records and did that Academy thing on the side, but, um, yeah, I can't wait to you.

Just start with that. 

Malcom: [00:03:45] Yeah. I mean like, well, that's, that was really the core that your course is the main thing that started this podcast. And I just looked, we recorded our first episode in January on the 13th of January, um, was when we first recorded, started recording for [00:04:00] this podcast. So it's been a long time coming.


Benedikt: [00:04:02] Oh yeah, totally. Yeah. Yeah. The recording band, the whole thing is like, I've been doing it for about a year and a half now and the podcast since January and, um, yeah, it's about time, but, uh, yeah, but it's, it's great. And, uh, as we've already said, what's also great is that you, the people are listening, um, are actually pretty.

Um, yeah, like it seems you like the podcast and you implement stuff that we talk about, which is great because we get emails and DMS and like we hear people talk about their productions and implementing things that they've learned from the podcast. And that is such a cool thing to hear. So thank you for listening.

And, um, yeah. Oh, 

Malcom: [00:04:44] it's amazing. I got a track to mix from a fellow Seth over in Ontario. Shout out to you, buddy. Uh, and drums are edited. Bass is just killer. He like, he nailed it. Yeah. He just applied everything. It was wicked and I've done tracks [00:05:00] for him in the past and it just gets better every single time.

So super stoked on that. 

Benedikt: [00:05:03] Well, that's the coolest thing. That's the best thing that can happen with this podcast and yeah. Keep sending us messages and emails and everything. We'd love to see that stuff. All right. Um, so we are talking about a topic here that actually helps you prevent like missing deadlines and being late with your projects, because we're talking about productivity and things that can speed up your work flow, and also things that can help you focus more on the creative side of things.

Because like templates and checklists, which are the things we're going to talk about in this episode, sound like something like uncreative, but these workflow things are actually the things that help you focus on the creative stuff more because you don't have to think about the tedious and creative stuff.

So we're going to talk about templates, checklists, and other things that you can do to 10 X, your productivity and creativity. [00:06:00] And we're going to go through three main benefits of checklists and templates. And we're going to give you examples of how to implement that and how we implement it in our studios and the audio businesses.

And, um, they really work flows. And, um, yeah, I think this is one of those episodes that is not like an obvious topic for such a podcast, but a super important one. And I can't wait to this. 

Malcom: [00:06:24] Yeah. This is a perfect episode for us to be recording today because with me just going to Toronto for the first film trip in quite a while last week, I, you know, what, what was my normal thing where I'm like, just, I know what to do.

Cause I've done it day in, day out, uh, was all of a sudden like, okay, what do I need to bring? What do I need to pack to go on a trip? And then what do I need to make sure I do at the start of every session to make sure I don't screw up. And, and when you screw up on film, it's like, You screw up everybody's day, so you can't screw up.

Um, so luckily I had the foresight in the past to make checklists for all these things. I literally have a packing [00:07:00] checklist. I have like a gear checklist and then I have a little set up checklist and I just went through that every single day because it wasn't something that I'd done recently. So I did need to refresh myself and make sure I formatted to that SD card, you know, make sure I did sync up to the cameras and get harps go in and all this stuff, you know, uh, stuff that would have been harder to remember.

And because I had these checklists, I didn't have to remember. It was just there for me and I couldn't screw it up. 

Benedikt: [00:07:26] Yeah. So true. Like, does your fiance ever think you're crazy because you're using checklists for obvious things because my wife surely does, like, I have a packing checklist as well for like when I go to the studio every morning because my studio is not at home, so I have to go there.

And I have a packing checklist and like, it seems crazy if you'd have something like that, because I've been doing this for an hour, like seven years in the same place here. And it's basically the same items that I have to pack every day, but still I have this checklist because it still happens if I don't use it that I forget.

Sometimes I forget a dongle or I [00:08:00] forget, I don't know to bring my tea or whatever I like to have during the day. And then it annoys me if I don't have it here. And like, We're just humans and we are forgetful creatures and incredibly forgetful actually. And even after years, you forget obvious stuff. So I go through this checklist every morning and I make sure I have everything with me 

Malcom: [00:08:19] is the enemy for sure.

That assumption is the enemy of memory because you know, your dongle that's. That's the classic one. Anybody that's got an eye lock. Ah, uh huh. Because you know, you're used to seeing it in one spot and that is your studio. And then I need to go on the road. So I had out on to, or, or with a film crew or whatever it is.

And I assume my dongle. Is where it needs to be, but it's still in the studio and you know, it's, uh, yeah, it, uh, it's no good. Um, so list, list, plus not, yeah. Experienced these situations. I wrote in our notes here. Benny, have you read the checklist? Yes. Manifesto? 

[00:09:00] Benedikt: [00:08:59] Yes, I have. I listened to the audio book, but I, to be honest, I didn't make it through the whole thing.

Like I like. I think three quarters of it or something. 

Malcom: [00:09:09] I, it was the most boring audio book in the world now. 

Benedikt: [00:09:12] Yes. It's such a, I don't know if you're feeling the same, but it's such a pain to listen to. It's like in the beginning I found it super interesting. All the stories, the examples they go through, it's like super interesting.

But after a while it just keeps repeating for at least I felt that way and it's like, yeah. Basic message of this book could be like condensed to like a couple of minutes or something. And it's just example after example after example, which of course like drives home the whole point. But, uh, I was just tired of hearing like medical scenarios.

I dunno. 

Malcom: [00:09:43] Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, that's why we're doing this. 

Benedikt: [00:09:46] Yeah. I feel like I could like pull off 

Malcom: [00:09:48] a synopsis. 

Benedikt: [00:09:50] Yeah. So I know, like, I feel like I'm a doctor now, after listening to this, I could 

Malcom: [00:09:55] pull up a surgery or something. Listen to all these examples. [00:10:00] Yeah. It was, it was really dry. It was red, really dry.

And then also, yeah, it was like all the, all of the thousand examples were from the two same industries. So it was kind of like, okay, we get the point, but anyways, uh, you don't have to read or listen to that book because we're having this episode and it's going to tell you what you need to know. Yeah, anyways, but if you do want to get even deeper into checklists, you can go check out the checklist manifesto.

Benedikt: [00:10:23] Absolutely. I'll put it in the show notes because it is a great book to be fair. Like, um, maybe if you're not familiar with that concept at all, or haven't done much yet, then it's maybe a different story because I already had checklists and I kind of knew about the importance of them. So if you are not in the same spot, like if you haven't used checklists before then it's, it might be.

A different thing for you. And if you're especially interested in like, I don't know, medical topics or aviation or whatever, I don't know that this is especially interesting, but still like it's a great book. The whole point is absolutely cool and great. And, um, it's still recommended, [00:11:00] so I'll put it in the show notes.

Yeah. And it's basically about this, about the thing that we have already touched on here that, um, even like professionals, like highly skilled professionals, who'd perform the same things every day, where you would assume that they don't make like simple mistakes. They use checklists because like they make mistakes.

If they don't and, um, If you're on a plane that plane will never, ever take off without the pilot and the whole crew going through like a preflight checklist. That will never happen. Of course they know how to fly a plane and they've done it hundreds of times before, but still they go through the checklist every single time or else they won't take off.

Doctors are the same and other professions as well. It's just, when you have a checklist, you don't have to think about things. You don't forget things and you can focus on the stuff that you actually need to think about. So what's on that checklist doesn't have to be stored in the back of your brain, basically.

And when it comes to creative things like we are talking [00:12:00] about, this is especially cool, because then you can focus on the music, on the parts, on the performance, on everything that really matters, and that cannot be put onto checklists and everything else that is just repetitive, tedious stuff.

If that's on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet on your computer or wherever, you don't have to think about that, you just go through it. It's quick, it's easy. You don't make mistakes and you can focus on what's really important. 

Malcom: [00:12:25] I think there's a misconception that by having checklists. It's less creative.

You know, you're using the kind of logical side of your brain to organize the task of being creative. And that can seem like it doesn't mesh. But in fact, you're just freeing yourself up to not have to use brain power on non-creative tasks. And now you can get into being creative, quicker, easier, and with less barriers and obstacles in the way, uh, anybody that's tried to write a song using pro tools knows what I'm talking about because pro tools is like, Just one giant barrier in the way of making music, if you don't [00:13:00] know how to use it well, uh, and, and, and the less somebody is running it for you, it's, it's really like, there's just all these little steps you have to get through.

And unless you had like a template, which is something we're going to talk about where all the tracks were already set up, wrote it to the inputs, you know? So I could just plug in a guitar, click one button and start playing. If you're going to be kind of defeated by the time you get to that, by the time you make a track routed, find a guitar cable, plug it in, you know, pull up an amp SIM scroll through a bunch of tones, you know, by the time you get there, you're a little window of opportunity and creativity is long gone.

So that's kind of stuff we're talking about today. Um, both creative, creatively, and also just ensuring that you don't make mistakes, that all just set you back, you know? Um, we've, we've talked about how. The feeding that can be, to make a mistake and how that can just like, kind of shelf a project because you have to start over and we want to avoid that for sure.

Yeah. And one more benefit to checklists is that if you set it up, right, it can also [00:14:00] ensure that you do things in the right order. Um, where if you're running by memory, you might just kind of jump around to whatever comes to mind first, but there definitely can be a benefit with the order that things are completed as well.

Benedikt: [00:14:11] Absolutely. And I get that a lot. Actually. I have, um, um, publicly I think, yeah, posted once. And I also sent it out to my email list. Like I shared some mixing templates that I use and I like a video where I go through my template and I got emails from people asking like, isn't that like, totally like non-creative.

And is that like, doesn't, that is isn't that lazy? Is that still mixing? It seems like more of an assembly line type of thing. And like, you know, But, um, the thing is once I started, like, this is for mixing now, but it's the same with tracking. The thing is I'm actually mixing much more creative now in my mixes got way better and faster at the same time, which is very cool.

So it's not lazy because you put in the work like before you have to put in the work, you just make notes and [00:15:00] document what you're doing and then put it into a template so that you don't have to do it again. But you have to do the work once. Ah, so it's not lazy. It's just a document of what you have done and what you've learned.

And then once you have that, and you can recall it and use it again as a starting point with all the tedious stuff out of the way, you can actually work more creative as we've already talked about. So, um, yeah, it seems like it's not as creative, but actually it's more creative and it's faster at the same time, which is super cool.

And that's the second benefit here that you get aside from freeing up like brain power, mental energy for the creative stuff. You will be faster, a lot faster, which is more fun, which is less exhausting, which leaves you, which gives you more time to experiment and do crazy things or creative things. Um, yeah.

So that's benefit. Number one, it's just playing faster. I mean, think about it. If you record a full length record and you do 12 songs and you do each of them in a different project. So you set up the first song. You route [00:16:00] everything, you label the tracks and everything and then you record the song and then you go to the next song and you do that again.

And the next song, and you do that again. Like, where's the benefit of doing that 12 times? Like you could have one template, use it over and over again and skip that step. That's not lazy. That's not uncreative. It's just faster. And that gets you to the important stuff quicker, right? Definitely. 

Malcom: [00:16:20] Definitely.

Yeah. Bands don't love waiting around for you to make tracks. And there's nothing creative about routing tracks at all. You know, as much as some people might think it is, it's really just time-wasting. So do it once, copy it, in most DAWs you can, I would say all DAWs, you can save a template, you know. So you make it once for one song and maybe make some extra tracks, just in case some stuff pops up, have it ready to go.

And save that template. And then you can just open that up each time you need to start a new song. I've got all sorts of templates. I've got tracking templates for different studios. Cause I primarily work on of three different studios, but I even have one that's kind of vague and like easy for me to set up into new studios.

[00:17:00] So I guess I have four tracking templates as well. And that's just for working with bands. I also have like probably three or four tracking templates for stuff my own, like my own stuff, you know, just like one that has a. Like a virtual drummer and some other virtual instruments ready to go. So I can just like demo a riff real, real quick.

Uh, you know, I've got like, through some instrumental music, I make up a different template for that, with all the dreamy delays and reverbs already set up and good to go. Um, And that's, you know, that's just tracking, I've also got my primary mixing template, which is same thing. It's just all routed, uh, all like all the effects are all stemmed out.

So, you know, I can just like print and I've got like STEM groups where everything kind of pre ready to go and get organized. Um, and you know, like my go to IQ is on every track, you know, so just literally saved two hours. Yeah. And, uh, you know, mastering. If you listen to this, you know, I do a lot of mastering.

And what people don't realize about mastering is that almost 50% [00:18:00] of mastery is not listening to audio. It's like writing in the proper spelling for the song names and communicating with the client to actually get the spelling of the song names and then explaining to them that they spelled a word wrong and then finding out what the track order is and stuff like that.

And, and the spacing between them. Um, so there's all of these non-creative tasks. So for me to optimize those, to be as. Smooth and quick and painless as possible. It means that I have way more time to spend on the actual mastering part when I'm listening to the song, uh, and, and really doing that. So by being logical and with checklists and templates and stuff, I have way more time to be creative, which is what we all want 

Benedikt: [00:18:41] for sure.

Absolutely. Yeah, w we kind of mixing it up here. So the one thing is checklists, one thing is templates. Um, but it's, it's the same purpose. Both of those things prevent you from making mistakes and it, both of the things, those things make it quicker. So it's the same benefits. It's just a different application, a different thing.

[00:19:00] Um, so yeah, the templates. Totally agreed. I have those for tracking as well. I have those for mixing for mastering. I have one for this podcast. I have one for my other podcast. 

Malcom: [00:19:10] That's great. We should mention this. We literally, before every episode go through a checklist and it's the only reason we haven't missed a week probably, you know, cause we haven't screwed up and realize we didn't record the episode at the end of the day.

Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So we have a checklist and we both have templates on our computers that we can just open it up and get to it. Yeah. How stupid would that be? If every single time we had to open it up again? God. 

Benedikt: [00:19:33] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And then, um, like the, the third benefit of this whole thing is that it actually, we we've already said it, but, uh, it's, it's worth pointing out again.

It prevents you from making mistakes or prevents you from missing out on opportunities because I've had that a couple of times actually, where. I thought, Oh, I should, I should really try this because I think this could be great. And then I'm working, doing other things. And [00:20:00] like, by the time I'm done, I totally forgot that I wanted to try this thing.

And if it wasn't the checklist, all the things you could do or the things you have that you could try for a certain scenario, if those are on a checklist on a spreadsheet, you can make sure to actually do those and try those. And I forget about them and, um, yeah, it's it prevents you from making mistakes and also from missing out on those opportunities, because sometimes you're just in the sun and you just going through whatever you're doing right now, and you're totally forget to do that cool thing that you want actually want it to do in the beginning.

Malcom: [00:20:30] Definitely. Yeah. Uh, I mean, this is all about doing work now that saves you time later, right? And the more time you put in now setting it up the more time you'll save, because you'll be saving it over a longer period of time. Cause it'll every time you use that template or that, that checklist is compounding and saving more time and more time and more time.

So, you know, setting, spending half an hour now might result in literally like a hundred hours saved down the road, which is amazing. Right? That's a. That's a huge amount of your life. You're getting [00:21:00] back. Um, and you know, it doesn't even have to be complex and checklists, like one thing I've always got ready to go.

I've got a little shortcut in my finder when, which I guess is a template of a way is just like access to you all have my drum samples and like sound effects and stuff like that. Um, so if we're like stuck on a part of a song and production, I can just be like, well, it just needs to be more exciting and grab a riser, read it, have the sample library, drag it right in.

It's just one step it's there quick. We don't have to go download splice and go looking for samples or something. I've got them all organized. You know? So actually I guess that's the template is I spent time organizing all my samples so I can just quickly audition things, get them in there and get people excited.

Move on. 

Benedikt: [00:21:41] Totally. And like the templates can, can be that thing, like a shortcut or organizing folders on a computer. It can also be just the pictures and the documentation of the documenting, what you have done in a previous session. Like if you have, like, if it's filed in a cool guitar sound and an amp and found a great mic position for it, and you put the, the [00:22:00] amp of the cabinet, great spot in the room or whatever, if you document that.

And, and write it down later in another session, if you want to create a similar vibe or like a similar tone, you don't have to try and, and like go back and forth until you have something similar. You can just pull out that note and I'm just recreate it and you have it there. So it's just like a template.

You have to recall it, but you don't have to think about it. You just look at the notes and then you do it again. So constantly documenting your progress and every, and making notes of everything you really like every cool thing that you come up with. Um, yeah, can help a lot and, uh, is kind of a, of a template that you are creating there.

So that can be like, what are examples? Like I mentioned, the, the guitar mic position and amp. What are examples of that you have? Um, 

Malcom: [00:22:49] I mean, so I use a camper a lot of the time and I've just got literally sitting beside my desk. I can reach out and touch it right now, pet it. I love it. But you know, I've got like a [00:23:00] handful.

Pretty much any kind of guitars could walk in here and I'd have a good idea of what tone I'd grab first for them based on their band. You know, I'd be like, okay, this is a good starting point. We can get started with this and tweak from there. Um, at least to get them playing, you know? So like that's quick, it's already wrote it and plugged in.

Uh, I've got another line re ran just for this mic that I'm using for the podcast. It's just always sitting there with my cloud lifter. Grab my SM seven, pull it in here, plug it in and I'm good to go. Channel one is always my podcast mic. Cool. Um, you know, so there's like set up stuff like that. Yeah. You know, I, I know some people that do session drumming and they just always have a drum kit.

Patched in those channels, never change. You know, it's just good to go. Um, phases already checked, cause they're not changing their setup. You know, anything you can automate and, and set up in advance. I think you should. Benny and I are actually honestly freaks about this. Like we're both just obsessive.

Like we have like template emails to get us started. You know, we, we, we have this great app called text expander, [00:24:00] which you can make a little abbreviations and it'll pop up like links or whatever you set it up. You know, little shortcuts, you know, we make our own shortcuts for her. We, we just do this to an insane degree.

Um, but at all, all adds up and all can't pass. So I'd actually anybody to get into that stuff. But start with the big stuff, you know, the, the big things that are slowing you down the most that you have to do a lot. Yeah. So that's normally making a tracking template, I think for most bands that are recording themselves.


Benedikt: [00:24:27] totally. Again, that's also one thing that I have to say, because you mentioned it like things like these email templates, for example, it's also a thing where it sounds like totally like personal and like who wants to use an email template? Nobody wants to get a template email from somebody. Right.

But in fact, it allows me to communicate more and better with people and with clients and more personal, because if you have to answer. I dunno, even if it's just like 10, 20 emails or something a day, or sometimes it's much more than that here, honestly, then, um, [00:25:00] that would take up such a big part of my day if I would type out everything manually.

And some, some things are just repetitive. For example, when I send out final files to clients or something, or when I am at a certain. Um, P like step of the process where it's just the same thing over and over again, for every project, I'll start with the template email. Of course, I'll like personalize it.

And I put in all the info that's like relevant for this project. And, uh, I always go through this email, uh, manually, but some stuff in there is just there every single time. And it would be stupid to type it out every single time. So, because then I could just communicate with way less people. I could, I would have worse customer service.

I would like everything would be worse. So that's just, that just helps. Like, it's again, same as with the creative templates, it makes you more creative, more personal. Um, yeah. And it makes everything more enjoyable than, yeah. It's not the opposite, right? 

Malcom: [00:25:55] Yeah, absolutely. I, even with all this stuff, I still have trouble [00:26:00] staying on top of my emails and getting back to people within a day.

Um, you know, sometimes it's like two or three days and I'm, I feel terrible, but it just. Like even using templates and shortcuts and stuff. Like, I just can't get to them all while still getting the stuff done that I needed to get done. So imagine if I didn't have all that saved, helping me out saving time, I would just, you know, the bands that are reaching out to me would be waiting weeks to hear from me and that'd be terrible.

Um, you know, and I have no time to do the creative stuff again, you know, it would be taking me away from that. Um, and on the flip hand, I know this guy who is so creative, And he's going through the opposite thing where he writes so much, but he can't like get to all his ideas because he's just kind of like, uh, I don't even know what the word is, prehistoric when it comes to computers.

Um, so, you know, like for him to put in the work early and get some templates set up so that it is a little bit more of a repeatable, predictable, uh, Experience for him every time he wants to demo a song, it would be hugely beneficial for him. 

Benedikt: [00:26:57] Yeah. That's another type [00:27:00] of cool tablet by the way, demos demo songs or writing templates, like have your, um, drum set sounds and like virtual drum kits have two or three or whatever you have, how many you have set up in a session.

So you can just audition them really quickly and choose the one that fits the song. Have them on a track already have your absence there already have like everything there that you need to, to quickly document an idea and quickly like get demos recorded and stuff like that. Because especially in writing, if like, if an idea, if an idea comes to mind and you just want to do it right now and capture it.

You don't want to set everything up, like, because then the idea might be gone or I don't know. It's just, you want to open up the session? Yeah. The computer plug a guitar in and immediately go, or you want to be able to program the drums right away. You have that stuff set up, have a separate template for, for writing and make it so ideally if you're in a band, make it so that every single person in the band Cadillac collaborate they're like choose a drum sample library that [00:28:00] everyone has, or at least the people who needed, who are working on the songs together.

Come up with some sort of collaboration system as well, use the same software come up with like checklists and templates there, so you can better collaborate and, uh, yeah, just, just do everything you can to reduce the amount of clicks and messages and phone calls you need to make in order to just like document whatever idea you just have and get, make sure the others can hear it.

And you get every single step. That's not part of the writing out of the way. And it's a, such a much, much smoother, much better process. 

Malcom: [00:28:36] Yeah, this a funny enough, Benny, I didn't mention this earlier to you before the show, but uh, this topic is actually a topic for my other podcast, my, my band business podcast, because it applies to that as well.

Right. You know, like, uh, and, and, but one point that I was going to talk about in that podcast that I think applies to this is you have to have some kind of online sharing platform that everybody's tapped into that is [00:29:00] semiautomatic. You know, you just upload the file there and everybody gets it. So you don't have to send a link code every single time.

Um, for people to download or whatever that that'll also save you a lot of time. Totally. You don't want to be, especially if you're the person recording it and uploading it. You don't also want to be like walking everybody through how to get to it and check out what you've done. Um, so I would definitely set that up.


Benedikt: [00:29:21] I mean, I think we should do another episode on like automation and stuff like that for bands, because that can, that is, that's a whole topic for itself and there's a lot of things that. That you as a bank can actually do. I mean, we are, as you already said, we are pretty nerdy about this because we have, we run like businesses and everything and we have to be super efficient.

And, um, so, but still there's a lot to take away for like musicians and just people in bands as well, because that's, that's actually, like, you might not think of it as one, but it's actually a business or an organization at least. So, um, There's [00:30:00] always stuff that can be optimized so that you can, uh, be more productive, creative and everything.

So I think we should talk about that, um, again and come up with, with ways to make your day to day creative life easier. Yeah. But for now, like the checklist and the templates are a great starting point. And I think, um, Yeah, it saves you time. It's like more creative, more productive, and it prevents you from making mistakes.

Now you've mentioned your camper patches. We've had the drum sounds, uh, you put something in the notes here. Like if X for your vocalist, I'm curious what you mean by that? 

Malcom: [00:30:34] What do you say up there? So, um, I'm not the vocalist in the bands. I'm a part of usually, uh, And, and, you know, I'm recording other bands often enough too.

So it's kind of applies to all that. Uh, but generally you find out what works for your vocalist and what they like as far as reverbs and delays go on the first song. So that is just something to bring over to the next song, which is kind of what we've already talked about. Um, but to go a step further, I just have like four options sitting in [00:31:00] my template.

Uh, anyways, you know, they might get changed out and none of them might work, but chances are one of them will be really close. Um, so vocalists gets patched into the channel and then I just quickly audition a couple of different reverbs, a couple delays that are already set in there. So it didn't have to make new tracks.

Didn't have to even think about what reverbs, you know, half the time. I don't even look at what they're called. I just like, listen. Nope, listen. Oh, cool. You know? Oh, it turns out it's a plate reverb, whatever. Um, so. Have that kind of stuff set up. I've also got the same kind of thing going on for like my lead guitar channels.

So somebody who's ready to rip a solo and I just throw on ginormous delays and reverbs. So they feel like a rock star while they track it probably won't even get used later, but it's there to make it exciting and sound kind of premixed. 

Benedikt: [00:31:44] Awesome. Yeah. That's a super great application for this. Absolutely.

So, yeah, that's, that's the template part. I want to go back to the checklists real quick and give you kind of an example. Of what that could look like. And because things aren't, these checklists are sometimes [00:32:00] super obvious and that's why people don't use them. Myself included. I haven't used them for years because I thought, well, I don't need to write that down.

Like I would never forget the simple things, but I do. And so I need checklists and. The most basic, and I guess the most important type of checklist would be the, yeah. The kind of preflight checklist, like in your audio music word, right? Like the preflight checklist, like when it comes to planes, same thing you can do.

Uh, before you record it, or before you do anything, it's like the checklist you go through before you start a new step of any process. So if you start recording or if you start a writing session, if you start a mixing session or whatever, you do have this checklist before you go so that you don't make mistakes, everything's set up and you don't have to think about it.

And I'm a good example of, of what could happen if you don't do that, is. I'm working with a, with a band and they are recording their record right now. And, um, [00:33:00] yeah, I'm kind of coaching them through the way through the process. And, uh, they sent me files that I should check out vocal recordings and they had weird like clicks and pops in them.

And we couldn't like, they didn't know where they came from and it was, it was kind of weird. And then I got on the phone with them and I said like, do you have multiple digital devices? Is there. And if so is the, like the clock like this, is it, is it the same plug? Do they run off the same clock? Is there a master in this life?

Because that could cause that issue and it turned out they had set it up correctly. They had a digital preamp and an interface like, um, combined. And they had set the clock correctly. But for some reason, the setting changed before the next session and they record it, didn't check it. And, uh, like both of those devices re ran off their internal clocks and that caused the dropouts and the clicks and pops.

So that's pretty technical. Like if you don't know what that all means, doesn't matter. The main. Take away here is if they had used the [00:34:00] checklist that had bullet point on it, or I could check box on it where it says, check clock on like the preamp and the interface, they would have checked it. And the pops wouldn't have been in the audio.

Malcom: [00:34:10] Yes. That's definitely a good example. It's so frustrating when it happens. 

Benedikt: [00:34:15] Exactly. Because the thing is you might capture, you might record the best take ever. And like, It's so cool, but then you have those artifacts or clicks and pops and you have to come up with crazy ways to, to find a solution for that.

And that's just frustrating. And all you, you would have to do to prevent that is have a checklist and go through it. And that would have never happened. So. An example of such a checklist could be what, what would be on your checklist like Malcolm, if you start a recording session as a band, what would be the most basic things that would be on there?

Malcom: [00:34:46] Now I'm feeling like an idiot because I don't think I have a pre-session checklist. Exactly. I got my pretty set template, which kind of does a lot of it. Cause it's all. I mean, it's mostly, they're like the channels that I [00:35:00] would have for that studio are going to pretty well be thought of. Um, but that said, I do have some stuff that I go through actually, uh, before the session, like days before, if not a week before or whatever, I will email the band, uh, to get, to make sure that they have certain stuff, you know, like we're gonna need this gear dot, dot, dot, whatever it is.

Um, Make sure you have the strings or new strings, throw them on the day of, you know, don't play them for three days before the session, stuff like that. The guy actually, I have a, a studio preparation guide that I think got shared on the, um, the self recording band page ages ago. 

Benedikt: [00:35:40] Um, actually 

Malcom: [00:35:40] did, if not, I'll give it to you.

And, uh, 

Benedikt: [00:35:43] That 

Malcom: [00:35:44] like that right there actually doesn't a lot for me. I send them that and it also like talks to them through how recording might work, uh, how, what we might use and what to expect as far as gear goes. So, you know, let them know that they might not be using their own gear. [00:36:00] Um, the importance of drum scans and strings and stuff like that.

It's kind of this podcast condense do a little PDF. The core messages are in there for sure. Um, and that is kind of a loose checklist for them. It is not actually a physical checklist for like boxes for them to check, but it. Brings all these, uh, things to their attention before they even go to the studio before they even pack, which is definitely helpful.

That doesn't really answer your question. Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:36:25] But it's like, it's a similar thing. Um, I just saw the things like basic things, like, um, I set my interface or.to the, to the correct sample rate because some might do that automatically others don't. So for example, I have to do that. Like if I switched separate in my door, my converter doesn't switch, I have to do that manually.

So. Just have a bullet point, a check box there where it says sample recheck, sample rate, um, check bit, bit rate check. Um, I don't know. Well, whatever you did, like every situation is unique, but whatever you need in order to record half that there and go through it, even if it [00:37:00] sounds obvious, um, make sure all the headphones are patched to the correct outputs and channels.

And like, if you, even if you don't have clients, but just recording your own band, if you're the one in charge of. Recording like the engineer in the band. You want to make sure that everything works before, like, um, people in your band arrive, just so it's a better and more enjoyable process. So you want to make sure all the headphone lines work, all the there's no broken cables and stuff like nothing.

That's just frustrating when you actually want to start. Um, yeah, that's, that's 

Malcom: [00:37:34] a great point. Uh, like thinking of today, even I, uh, when we record this podcast, I plopped my laptop up on the top of my desk and open it up. So I have a webcam, so me and Benny can see each other. But I always forget to do that.

Like every single time I leave it down under my desk plugged in, because I've normally got like a flat screen on the wall that he uses a monitor, but then I don't have a webcam. So I have to turn everything off, you know, that's killing me. I'm going to have a checklist for that instead. Um, [00:38:00] you know, yeah.

I love the idea of checking. The headphone mix is working before anybody gets there as well. I mean, I do that, but just having to check this that makes sure I do that. Um, because that cannot nurse all sorts of problems. You might discover that your soundbites wrong, you might discover that your playbook back engine is set wrong 

Benedikt: [00:38:15] and yeah.


Malcom: [00:38:17] Or the headphone cables wrong, whatever it is, 

Benedikt: [00:38:19] basic things like, do we have water and snacks for the session? Is there, is there still coffee? Because I don't know if, especially when multiple people are in the same room, somebody might have grabbed the last. Couple of water, meet the last cup of coffee, and didn't tell you that it's gone.

So you didn't get you one for the next session. And now like all that sort of stuff. Do we have water? Do we have cough? We do. We have drum skins, strings. What you just said. Um, is there a like replacement for everything in case something breaks, all that sort of stuff. You want to go through that before every single session and imagine how.

Awesome. Every session goes, if you do that. And like these checklists will surely like will definitely in, will evolve over [00:39:00] time. You will always find things that go that like keep going wrong or mistakes that you keep making. And you've just add that to the checklist and it keeps growing and growing and the more the checklist grows, the easier your life will be.

And the more like enjoyable and awesome the sessions will be. So, yeah. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:39:17] I mean, checklists usually are really easy to update on the fly because normally are lists on your phone or whatever, right. Or on the computer you're working on. So you can just literally open it up and add a new bullet point. Um, templates can be a little trickier because sometimes you can't really update the template.

Because you've already done too many changes that you don't want done to the source template. So what I've done is I've got an note in my like Apple notes thing that is called change for templates. And then I just write down what template it is and what I want to change to it. And then every once in a while, I'll yeah, clean that up, make all these changes to them, re save them.

And then, uh, they're now corrected because you'll find that they're just, you know, issues you've put in there or stuff you didn't think that you might want added, you know, it just kind of always evolves, but that's kind of the [00:40:00] beauty of it. It just keeps getting better and better. Same 

Benedikt: [00:40:02] here. I have a Trello card for that.

And whenever I've come across something where I think, Oh, I should add that to my template. I just opened the Trello, put it in there and it it's just a growing list. And whenever I find time, like goes through all the things, update my templates and then yeah. Same thing. Yeah. Cool. 

Malcom: [00:40:19] Yeah. That's a, you know, if you don't have Trello get Trello.

Benedikt: [00:40:21] Yeah. Yeah. That's, don't get us started in all these productivity things because we like, we're crazy about this stuff, but for a reason, so, um, yeah. Uh, that's basically it, I think, I mean, yeah. I don't want to make the same mistakes mistake as they did with the checklist manifesto. And it goes to the same 

Malcom: [00:40:42] thing over and over again.

Benedikt: [00:40:43] We've said everything, basically. I think you've got the point now try implementing checklists and templates now. And also, um, Don't view creating those as a waste of time, because that's a mistake that I've made a [00:41:00] couple of times, also with the Academy, with my course that I was building, I always thought planning and making those checklists and templates and stuff was just a waste of time. I just wanted to get to final recording the lessons, recording the videos, writing the PDFs and whatnot. And I found that every time I skipped the prepping phase, like the making templates and checklists phase, I was so slow creating the actual content.

And once I got over that and finally decided to make checklists and templates for everything. After that the whole video shooting, editing, everything just went so much quicker, like so much faster that I should have done that from the beginning. Absolutely. So don't view it as a waste of time, but just see it as something, where you invest a little bit of time now and it will save you a multiple of that later.


Malcom: [00:41:50] Okay. One more. I want to add. Okay. Yeah, because we've been talking like pretty permanent checklists, you know, like this is something you're going to use multiple times, but I still believe in them even [00:42:00] when it is like, just for a single use instance. Yeah. And the prime example of that is you get there with the band and you listen to the song for the first time that day.

And you're like, okay, like, we're really close. We gotta finish this up. What do we need to do? And you listen through and you just write down a checklist. I usually just use like a pen and paper for that checklist. Uh, for the disposable ones and you just write down everything that's left, any idea you have, you know, and then you just work through it, you just check them off kind of thing.

You know, don't try and keep those things in memory. Cause you'll forget about one of them. Um, and it's also just slower cause you have to have a conversation. Okay. What's next? You know, just write it down on the fly, hit them all out. Record them done. 

Benedikt: [00:42:37] Totally. Yeah. Awesome. Super great. In a perfect world. I would just be.

Um, I dunno, like all the things that I don't want to do would just be automatic and like, I would only have to deal with the creative stuff and like that sort of, that would be awesome. So, yeah. And I think compared to how I've done things a couple of years ago, [00:43:00] I've come a pretty long way. Um, so like when I started out, I spent a lot more time with stuff that didn't matter compared to now I'm much more productive and creative already.

And, uh, yeah. Keep improving that and you should absolutely too. Definitely. Alright. So that's it for this episode. It's been a great one. Thank you for listening. And, um, yeah, sign up for the Academy waiting list. Check out Malcolm's uh, preparation guide that I will post in the show notes and, uh, yeah. See you next week.

Malcom: [00:43:30] Sounds 

Benedikt: [00:43:30] good. 

Malcom: [00:43:31] Bye.

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