#28: Track Your Progress – The Mindset, Strategy, Tactics and Tools You Need To Stay On Top Of Your Project

Podcast #28: Track Your Progress - The Mindset, Strategy, Tactics And Tools You Need To Stay On Top Of Your Project

In order to stay motivated and keep pushing your project forward, you need to track your progress. 

You need know where you are, what you've already accomplished, what's ahead and what to do next.

Every second spent thinking about those things before you can be creative again and move on with the project is a minute wasted. And, more importantly, mental energy wasted that you could have used to work on your music.

Add to that, that we are incredibly forgetful creatures who get distracted easily and you'll quickly realize that there's no way around tracking your progress properly, if you want a completed project, well thought-out songs, an inspiring, detailed production and happy bandmates.

Join us as we discuss the mindset, strategy, tactics and tools we use to manage our studio projects and let us give you some ideas and practical advice on how to implement a seamless system for your band.


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

TSRB Podcast 028 - Tracking Progress

[00:00:00] Benedikt: [00:00:00] Communication is just such a big part of it. And if it's properly tracked, you have less communication. And if you have great ways of communication, it will be easier to keep track basically. So one thing needs the other. This is the self recording band podcast. The show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are, DIY stuff.

Let's go.

Hello and welcome. To the self recording fan podcast. I am your host the time and I'm here with my friend and hosts, Malcolm own flood. Hello, buddy. How are you? 

Malcom: [00:00:38] I'm great, man. How are you? 

Benedikt: [00:00:39] I'm great. Thank you. Um, just had the most disappointing experience ever, but I'm still good. Cause I was like, Mmm. I don't know if it's the same in Canada or in the U S or whatever you listening, but when, like they try to deliver you something you've ordered or some of the subway sent you and you're not home, they leave a [00:01:00] note.

And then you grab that note, go to the post office and get your thing. Is it the same where you are? Probably, 

Malcom: [00:01:06] yeah, sometimes they leave it at, at your house and sometimes they don't. And. I'm currently waiting with bated breath for a delivery. That's meant to show up today that I need for later today. I'm very worried that it's going to show up and they get like, I'll be maybe recording this episode in my soundproof studio and not hear them show up.

I really hope that they just leave it. 

Benedikt: [00:01:31] Oh shit. Yeah. That's the worst. Yeah. Like, and my distress or my favorite piece of gear on this planet, um, has been away since. End of November, 2019. I think so I had it, I had it, I had to send it to the U S to, for it to get repaired. And it was a huge pain in the ass.

I sent it to a workshop here in Germany where I already ordered it, like to shop. They couldn't repair it, but they told me super late that they couldn't prepare it and that they had to send it to the U S and when they did it was [00:02:00] already like Corona. And they send it over. And then of course, yeah, it was like, it took forever for it to come back.

And now I got, um, the, the shipping notification that it should arrive today or tomorrow or yesterday, this week, sometime, sometime this week. And I'm so excited and can't wait to get my distress back. So yesterday I came to the studio and there was this note, um, here and I thought, yes, the distressors back and say, I go to the post office.

Fully excited to grab my destressor. I didn't order anything. So it must've been the destressor. And then I received the thing that was there and it was just like invoices and received that from my accountant that I got back, like after he was doing my taxes. So just all my stuff back to me. That's tough.

Malcom: [00:02:43] One, no 

Benedikt: [00:02:45] tourist thing you could grab. And I was so disappointed in my distressors. They'll not here. But other than that, I'm fine.

Malcom: [00:02:56] Uh distressors are really cool pieces of gear. 

[00:03:00] Benedikt: [00:03:00] Yeah, totally. I need to get a second one, but yeah, 

Malcom: [00:03:05] I don't know if you got one. 

Benedikt: [00:03:06] Sorry, 

Malcom: [00:03:07] what was that? I need to get one. Yeah, I don't own one, but I do want one. 

Benedikt: [00:03:11] Yeah, totally. It's one of those things I don't track enough to justify having a lot of hardware actually, but the distress is one of those things that I just love, even if the rouser plug in and everything's great, but the destresser is just the destresser it's not the same.

I don't know. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:03:25] I didn't actually enjoy the rouser that much. I heard so much good stuff about it. And I was like, eh, whatever. But when I've used a hardware destressor, every single time, I've loved it every single time. 

Benedikt: [00:03:36] Same same here. I like the arouse her, but not as much as the hardware and the arouse, it doesn't have the optical mode and that loved the Optimo down the real thing.

So anyway, well the other topic, um, but yeah. What were you up to? I mean, we've talked not long ago. We found an extra episode this week, but 

Malcom: [00:03:55] yeah, I. Was mixing some bands and then I got a masters and yesterday as well. [00:04:00] So just a stuck in this studio, getting stuff done, and it went awesome. Yeah. Was one of those days where things just like float and songs went out, people were really happy, done, so loved it.

And then, uh, Uh, yeah, other than that, I, like I said, I'm going out on a film gig today, later this afternoon. Hopefully with my new gear, that's meant to come in the mail. I'll be fine without it, but I really want it. Okay. It would be nice to have it. Um, but yeah, so back in the field on that stuff as well, which would be great.

Benedikt: [00:04:29] Super great. Yeah. We can only hope it stays that way. Like it stays open. I I'm not, I'm not. Convinced yet, but yeah, for now it's good. Awesome. Yeah. Then, um, let's dive in today in to today's topic and it is about keeping track of your progress. So track your progress while you're recording, while you're writing, doing preproduction, whatever you do, it's really, really important.

Uh, I guess the people that are making that documentary with you, uh, talking about [00:05:00] that, I guess they keep track of it. I mean, If they wouldn't, they like, it would be chaos probably. So if you have a project like that, you need to know where you're at and where you have been a couple of weeks or months ago.

Malcom: [00:05:10] Yeah, definitely. Yeah. The gears in this case. 

Benedikt: [00:05:13] Yeah, exactly. And you should do the same, even if it's just working on one song, it is a project and it requires you to stay on top of it and to know what's next. Then shouldn't have to waste mental energy on thinking what, what actually to do. And what's already been done and who needs to do what and stuff like that.

That's what we're going to talk about. 

Malcom: [00:05:34] Yeah. This is a hugely underrated, non organized people. Don't see the value in organization. I used to be one of them, me too. I did all through high school. You know, they give you like agendas to fill out and you're like, why? Like, it doesn't matter. Like you just tell me where to go anyways.

Um, but unfortunately when you graduate, uh, there's nobody telling you where you're at to be next and you have to keep track of it on your own. Um, and this totally [00:06:00] applies to the studio. Recording. You'll find that when you're not organized and you don't have that, like charted out in like an easy to reference spot, it takes longer to get to the next step and kind of dither around on the same step longer.

Um, and when I started implementing just little. Studio boards into my workflow. Things started moving quicker, just, just by doing this one thing that the record sped up a lot. Um, so yeah, I can't really recommend it enough. And we're going to talk about what that looks like. 

Benedikt: [00:06:31] Oh yeah, totally. And it's funny that what you just said, that the act of just making that cross across something off, or just doing it, making a check Mark or whatever, that's.

I dunno, that's somewhat like satisfying or it's just fun. And you just move on faster because you want to do that. Like it's, it's rewarding to do that. It's the same with like, if you track your. I for example, I started tracking my habits a couple of weeks ago, so I read a couple of books and I started like things that I wanted to do every day that I had written [00:07:00] down as like habits I want to start or to learn or to really be part of my day, as long as I just had them in the back of my head.

I, I knew about them, but I wasn't as consistent once I started tracking things and making a cross, like every day, I didn't want that line, that, that then like a created, I didn't want to it to have a hole in there. I didn't want to break that line, you know, that progress. So once you start keeping track of something, um, it's just fun to move on and to check something off and to know that you have done everything so far, that you've always showed up.

And I dunno, it's, it's weird. It's like different than just knowing it and yeah. Thinking about it. 

Malcom: [00:07:38] Yeah. And in the case of being a band, you need this because it's not just your, you don't just need it in your head. You need it in the head of all of the other band mates involved and all the other musicians.

Um, and the only way to do that, I think is to have something visual that everybody can glance at. So the most classic approach is like a literal poster board on a [00:08:00] wall or like a whiteboard. So something fairly large that everybody can see in the studio. Right. Um, and that's my favorite still, even though we're going to talk about some digital methods that make way more sense, especially in covert times, but, uh, Just grab like the, yeah, the classic classical beat, grab a whiteboard or a poster board and kind of draw it into a grid.

You have songs going one way and instruments going the other way. And then when you finish something, you just fill in that box for that song and instrument and tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, knock it all off kind of thing. And what this does is allows anybody at any time, just to glance up and see where you are at.

In the process of your album. And that does a lot because now everybody's on the same page. Everybody knows where they're at. So the urgency is kind of matched among all people. Um, you can see if you miss something or you can kind of see if you have to start thinking about setting up for a new instrument, you know, like, okay, [00:09:00] almost all the drum boxes are ticked on.

So, and so is working on the last drum track right now. Maybe I should start getting ready for guitars kind of thing. Um, so yeah, that's another cool benefit of this is you haven't set up and you'll notice that whoever's next practicing a little sooner. 

Benedikt: [00:09:13] Oh yeah, yeah, totally. And, and just the sheer fact that you won't forget things.

I mean, sometimes it's just like you save something for later or you like, I've been in situations where we knew we could do it now, but if you do it now, there's the chance that we would like. Um, kill the voice of the singer. Basically, if it's, sometimes they hire really loud or a very difficult scream.

Like you could do that now, but it's yeah. There's the, the risk of like blowing out the voice. And so we saved that for later, but if you do that, you could finish the song and forget that you didn't do this thing, you know? So if you do so don't cry, check off things until they're done. And with the poster board solution, you can just easily see if, if a song's complete or not given that like, um, only if you, [00:10:00] of course, um, Write it down properly and know all the elements in the song.

So you need to put in some thought there. Definitely. Oh, sorry. There's somebody knocking on my door.

Because you read it? 

Malcom: [00:10:18] No. No. 

Benedikt: [00:10:19] Did you see it? I just held it into the camera. Wait a second. 

Malcom: [00:10:22] Oh, I think my eyes were off the camera. Oh, okay. Yes, I called 

Benedikt: [00:10:26] it, 

Malcom: [00:10:27] distressing her back in action. 

Benedikt: [00:10:30] There it is. Um, Okay. Um, my distress or chest came during during the episode. No joke. Um, yeah, it's there and I'm happy.

That's great. 

Malcom: [00:10:41] Okay. I'm going to keep an ear out for my delivery now. It seems like a sign. Yeah, exactly. Awesome. 

Benedikt: [00:10:49] Yeah. Yeah. We went with the first support. Don't forget things. It's just like, you can forget what you haven't done and you need to put some thought into. Yeah, writing it down properly so that [00:11:00] obviously all the elements are on that poster board.

So only then it makes sense. 

Malcom: [00:11:03] Yeah. So the kind of rows and columns thing will be very vague, like this song, this instrument, but what you can do is inside those boxes, write specific notes. And I really love doing that with, because people have ideas on the go, you know, so there's going to be like ideas that aren't already.

Internalized by all the whoever's playing it, but you're like, okay, well maybe we want to try a banjo on this song and nobody plays the banjo. So we have to remember that and we have to source a banjo player. So I'll go into like my little, I always keep an other category, um, where it's just like, not any of the instruments that are planned for, and it's other ideas.

And I just write it in there. Banjo kind of thing. And every time we look at the board, I'll be like, right. I still have to find a banjo player. Yeah. So it's the stuff like that, you know, or like gang shouts, claps, whatever, um, you know, write it, any idea you think of that isn't already internalized onto that list.

Benedikt: [00:11:53] Yeah. That's handy. 

Malcom: [00:11:56] So when you did this, Benny, did you [00:12:00] just like shading the boxes or do you try funny photos in the boxes? What did you do? 

Benedikt: [00:12:04] I saw, I saw your, uh, your note that you wrote down there and it's totally true. I, um, I met myself usually just check things off or just make a cross or whatever, but it's a totally fun, total fun idea of a fun thing to do with bands to make them, first of all, let them do it themselves.

And then, uh, instead of like a cross, let them draw in whatever they want. And those poster boards end up being crazy pieces of art by the end of a project like this. Exactly. 

Malcom: [00:12:38] Show him you're holding up. Yeah. And it's a, it's a classic. Classic male band poster and 

Benedikt: [00:12:46] yeah, usually 

Malcom: [00:12:47] beer cans, hammers, 

Benedikt: [00:12:50] and kind of surprised there's no deck on there.

Like that's 

Malcom: [00:12:53] usually somewhere for honest, there are breasts. Okay. [00:13:00] Normally there's a penis. Yeah. It seems to be common. Exactly. But yeah, you, you, you let them fill in their own squares and it's something they get to do when they finish there. Their part on the song. So it was kind of like an incentivization, you know, they feel like they're making progress that way as well.

And every once in a while, there's somebody that's just like, why am I doing this? But like, I don't care. Just do it just for everyone else. Yeah, totally, totally. But it just makes it more 

Benedikt: [00:13:26] fun. Absolutely. Yeah, I would do. I would totally do that. It's a fun thing to do. And I'm also like, there are people, even if it's not about the drawing and pictures, but there will always be people who are like, I can remember the stuff I don't need to write this down.

And I was the same for a long time. Actually. I always thought the stuff like this is stupid and it's just a waste of time, but. You just eventually you will forget stuff. And also you'll be, you'll be faster. I do it that way because every time you need to stop and think what's next or that, like, just thinking about what you have done and what hasn't [00:14:00] been done yet and stuff like that.

If you do that 10 times a day, It adds up and it's like, you could waste a half an hour or an hour of your time, every day, just thinking about what you need to do, which is a total waste. So even if you can remember things it's just faster, if you don't need to use your brain for that. 

Malcom: [00:14:14] Yeah. And it's, it's actually, it takes more time than you think, because it's not just you thinking about what's next, it's you having a conversation with everybody about what's next.

We all have to. Yeah. Ask and then talk about it. And like, it just takes so much time where this, you just look and you don't have to ask anybody. There's no conversation. You're eliminating like 10 conversations a day just by having a piece of paper on the wall. 

Benedikt: [00:14:36] Oh, totally. And like, Oh yeah. And exactly.

And if you're like, you are maybe. Let's say you're the drummer of the band and you record, you are the one operating the die and you're recording the rest. And then your guitar player is next to you. And he's supposed to play his parts. Then he, if it's, if there's not this poster board or something like visible for everybody, he will constantly ask you what's next to constantly ask which song are we doing?

Which [00:15:00] part are we doing? Are we doing this again? Do we need to do doubles? Whatever. You get these questions all the time and, and like, you can totally eliminate that by having something there that they can just see all the times. So, yeah. 

Malcom: [00:15:11] Um, well, it is awesome having all of this, like out on a poster board.

Um, and, and again, I think totally crucial. I still will eventually recommend doing, uh, like a reference lesson of everything as, as a group, hopefully. Um, because new ideas will pop up. Or, or maybe issues, you know, you have to double check your work every once in a while. And norm, like, if you did a good job, there won't be any of that.

But the new ideas. And again, I have that other category where we just write in extra notes for stuff, for other instruments, or even for instruments we've already done. Maybe you want to add more vocal layers or something. Do a listen of the song and just update your board periodically. 

Benedikt: [00:15:52] Yeah, absolutely.

Do it, check it, double check it because sometimes ideas pop up that you haven't written down on the board or, yeah. [00:16:00] Agreed. Definitely nothing more to say to this. Yeah. So I have a question here. When you listen to those songs periodically to check the progress and you have an idea that wasn't there before, or you want to add a layer or something.

But you, you can't do it now. You don't have it right next to you. The thing you want to use, or it's just an idea that pops in your head, another instrument, another vocal or whatever. Do you add it to the poster board then? Or do you make a note somewhere or how do you make, how do you keep track of things like that?

Malcom: [00:16:29] I do add it to the poster board. Um, again, it might be like, so if it was something that I could get back to easily enough, so say it was just like a vocal overdub and the vocalist is still available. Uh, or I, it can be any bulk list. I'll probably just write that in the vocal box kind of thing or something.

Um, but if it's something that we're going to have to come back to at a later date, I throw it in the other box. So the other box is normally for instruments that aren't included in any of the other rows. But, uh, [00:17:00] in this case it's like, okay, we've already done guitars, but we do want to add some weird delay swells with a guitar.

I'm going to put that in there. And then. I really liked to have an auxiliary day. I call it where at the end of the album, we come back for one more day, so everything's done. But then we come back and we just like run through each song. This is where we'll do a reference list. And it'd be like, is there anything else that would just add a little bit of magic?

And we just hit all of those kinds of things, whatever we can. So I'm doing one, uh, later, before my film gig, after this podcast, I'm just going to add some tambourine to a song. You know, that was, that was the result of it. It was like, okay, just needs a lift on the last course. Tambo here we go. Um, so yeah, I just make a note and we'll hit it eventually.

Benedikt: [00:17:39] Okay, cool. So one thing that's, I think important here is no matter what method you use. And I think the poster board is pretty much like mandatory almost. You'd just need to do that, but, um, there are other things that we're going to talk about, but no matter how you keep track, I think it's important to keep it all organized in a way that you can see it at [00:18:00] all times.

So that's. The board on the wall, on the wall, but also on your computer, it's like, you'll probably go or you definitely go through various stages and phases. You have, you write a song, you make changes to the arrangement. You, um, do demos, pre production. It gets refined. Like until you get to the point where you actually record it and.

Sometimes you need to go back to something and change something. And also it's just important that when you come back after a while that you haven't been at the computer and you open your folder for the song or for the project or the record or whatever that you see. Immediately what you have done and what you haven't done and what were the songs are.

And so I would highly encourage you that after every session that you do or after every step that you make, that you do a save as, or make a copy of the session or whatever, and label it with the date and what you've done so that you can see like song one writing and the date or whatever, or song to [00:19:00] pre-pro round two or something, just so you know, What stage the songs are in and what they're still left to do, because that's, I don't think I know a single person who did this right from the beginning.

Like everyone, I know who's worked in some way, shape or form on a, on a song. They labeled their projects in the beginning with like, I don't know, what's the default name of any doll. Like, it's the same thing as this, they label their tracks audio one, 2031. Like they labeled their projects and their folders in basically that don't label them at all.

It's just weird numbers and letters and it doesn't make sense. And basically everybody does that at the beginning until they realize how important it is to actually be organized. So. Yeah, just do it right away, because eventually you will do that anyway, because it will annoy you. So start right away, keep track of everything by simply by just labeling it properly.

And every time you open the folder, you know what file is? What and where. 

Malcom: [00:19:57] Yeah. There's like two things to think about there. [00:20:00] One is what is that organization going to look like? Like, are you going to write, like, I think like you do Benny where you would say pre-pro. Editing, you know, drums, guitars, stuff like that, or like, I, you just use a date system.

Um, I'm thinking about adapting a little bit of yours, but I would still keep the date on there. And I just do, like I do, for example, today is the 13th. So I would do 2008 13. So that 20 stands for 2020. And then it's the month. And then it's the day. And that always keeps things like alphabetical in a way, you know, it's numbers, but it lines them up so that my most recent sessions at the top always, and that that's kind of useful for my workflow, but the most important thing, whatever you decide to do.

Is that you are consistent and you use it for every single save because you just need to know that when you look in any folder and there's going to be a lot of folders on your computer by the end of this, that you understand the order of them and which one is what you're meant to be looking at. [00:21:00] So just.

Don't start doing something and then change it. I mean, if you've got to adapt, you've got to adapt, but the consistency is really key to not confusing yourself in the future. 

Benedikt: [00:21:10] Oh yeah. Yeah, absolutely do that. Um, be consistent with it. That's, that's key with everything. If you want, if you miss, if you start missing things like that, it's even harder to go back and get organized again.

It's the same thing. Like if you're always saving your downloads in the downloads folder, If you do that for a while, it's it gets like it's a real task to clean that up. And the same is if you don't label your stuff properly, if you don't do save, as all of a sudden, you have like 15 projects, not labor properly, it's, it's really hard to get around to doing that and like, uh, reorganizing everything.

Whereas if you just do it every single time, it's not a problem at all. It requires little to no effort, basically. 

Malcom: [00:21:49] Yeah. Yeah, totally. Yeah. Let's talk about some, some tools. 

Benedikt: [00:21:53] Okay. So there are two kinds of tools. I would say. There's the, there's the tools that you just [00:22:00] use to track progress. Same as with the poster board.

So you could share a spreadsheet like Google sheets is perfect for that because Google sheets is everybody basically has a Google account these days. Everybody with a, an Android device has one by default and everybody else just, I think almost everyone has a Google account and Google sheets is free.

It's in there like Excel, but made by Google. If you haven't used it. That's great. Um, it lifts in your browser. I don't know if there's an app for it on the phone. There's an app, but 

Malcom: [00:22:30] Oh, there it is. Yeah. Yep. Yep. On the phone there is, but not on the, not on the computer as far as I know. 

Benedikt: [00:22:33] Yeah. You can share a spreadsheet there where you can just, um, Yeah, come up with whatever system you want to track.

Be it the, what Malcolm said, like instruments and songs, or you could do, I've seen that from like actual clients of mine and, and students in my better program where they had like this huge chart where they had, um, okay, here's the songs and this is what we still need to do. So they had all the phases, like drum programming, [00:23:00] guitar arrangement, vocal layers, all that stuff was in there in the writing phase.

Then there was like a new. Yeah, chart basically where they had, um, the demo phase and then the feedback loops and all that. Like they're headed out, spread out over this, this sheet in a really detailed way. So you could use Google sheets. Everybody can look at it and knows exactly what to do when you can even, I think you can integrate it with a calendar.

So if there's a task or something that needs still needs to be done, you can give it a date and put it in the calendar. Like all, all that stuff can be done with that. So that's a pretty basic and free one, but it works perfectly fine, I think. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:23:36] So yeah, Google sheets is awesome. Um, but I personally don't really like the Google universe.

Yeah. So I choose to avoid it whenever I can. Um, and I like more visual things rather than spreadsheets. So I think my favorite overall project management tool is an app called Trello, which I, I know that you use as well. Benny. [00:24:00] Um, it is less of a spreadsheet and more of just like a poster board, I guess.

Um, but it is very cool. If you haven't used Trello, you gotta check it out. It is free. In most cases I've been using it for like two years for free. Um, and it is this very visual list-based graphic poster board kind of thing, where you just grab cards on one list and you drag it onto another. Um, and. It's awesome.

Simple, beautiful, and easy. 

Benedikt: [00:24:29] Totally. Yeah. It's awesome. Yeah, exactly free. It's very visual thing. It's like that the idea is like, if you have posted on your wall and you'd have columns, basically off of things you need to do and you write one, um, one thing that you want to move through this pipeline is what they, what you can call it.

Uh, you write those things on a posted, and then you just move the posted from column to column. That's what Trello is. So you could have one column or one like list for every instrument and then write on a card, like [00:25:00] on a, posted the song name, and then you just drag the song, the song, the song from one instrument column to the next.

So you can start with drums. Guitars obviously then bass vocals and then everything else. And, um, so yeah, and then you can move the songs through this pipeline until they are done and it's uh, yeah, you can share it. I dunno how many users you have free with Trello? If you can have a whole band and a Trello board?

I don't know. 

Malcom: [00:25:27] Oh, right. As far as members. That's a good question. Um, I have never. Tried more than one. So, 

Benedikt: [00:25:33] but even if sure. Yeah, but even if you have just one account and you have it in the studio or the practice room next to you where everybody can look at it, that's also good. 

Malcom: [00:25:41] I can share the URL to the board unlimited.

I know that. So that you'd be able to, people will be able to reference it. Maybe not update it. 

Benedikt: [00:25:49] Okay, cool. Yeah. But Trello for the band. And I think, I think everybody has a use case for Trello. It's just such an amazing tool, even in your personal life. Like Trello is just. Awesome. 

Malcom: [00:25:58] Yes. Yeah. Get Trello. [00:26:00] I think as musicians, like a lot of creatives listen to this podcast and this is going to, when you get it, you're going to be like, this is what I was looking for.

Yeah. That's how I felt. 

Benedikt: [00:26:08] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That's one tool. And then there's another category of tools that I, um, I think there is, and there's important that that's like collaboration or communication tools. So not necessarily for checking off things or moving things through the process, but just to.

Assigned tasks or, um, like going back and forth, like leaving questions on a certain thing in an organized way, having threads, instead of just an ongoing, I don't know, messenger conversation and stuff like that, because that's the worst that every band has, like a, I don't know, a WhatsApp chat or a messenger, Facebook messenger chat or something like that.

And it's, it's like, it's not. Less than ideal way to do things and to work together on a project because you will not find things anymore. You have to search all the time. It's not organized. So if you have a tool where you can assign tasks to individual people, [00:27:00] where you can comment on things, so you can have a thread where you can separate things.

Uh, and have separate tasks for in separate threads for separate tasks. It's so much easier because then you like, you're like, Oh, I have a questions for the drums in this song. And then you just open up the threat for that song and the drum. And then you can leave your comment there. Or, you know, like stuff like that.

So it's, it's so much better to have like a tool like that. And one that you couldn't, you can use is a really simple one that is not as sophisticated, but you can set it up yourself kind of that way is if you could use Dropbox paper because. It's not like there's this pre-made tool where everything's so organized, but you can organize it yourself.

And if someone leaves a comment, you see the name of the person, you can have like bullet points. And if you comment below a certain bullet point, it's there and you see who commented. You can edit stuff, basically like a document that's that looks great. That's easy to edit. You can find things you can search for things.

You can have it in a certain order. And almost everybody has [00:28:00] a Dropbox account at this point. So that's yeah. Basic version of that. Just to document things and to have all the info on Atlanta project. Yeah, yeah. 

Malcom: [00:28:09] Yeah. We use Dropbox paper for this podcast actually is how we organize everything. We feel checklists in it and we have all our topic ideas and all of that.

So every time we record it, we've got it open and we're using it. It works great. If you don't have a shared Dropbox folder for your band, you're missing out. Yeah. Just have that. And then every time you bounce, the latest version of the song, it automatically goes to this folder and everybody in the band automatically gets it and can reference it.

And that'll save you a lot of time because you won't have. Five different band members, emailing you, asking for the latest bounce every day. They can just go and get it themselves. 

Benedikt: [00:28:42] Oh yeah, totally. Yeah. And don't use Google drive. It's just like, it's the worst. Dropbox is so much better. I'm with you. Like I like to Google universe for everything, but Google drive.

I think their office is actually great. I think their calendar is great. So no complaints. Gmail is great. No [00:29:00] complaints with Google stuff, except for Google drive. Google drive is. The bane of my existence. I hate clients for using Google the drive. Um, like I have, I've seen a posts like some time ago where I think it was Kirpalu some, I think it was Kirpalu, but I'm not sure on that one, but at least he commented on the strip, but I think it was his.

Where he posted a screenshot of a client who sent him like a Google drive folder to make stuff, wherever the Google drive folder with the multitracks. And he just was like sending someone we'll drive link or like a link to a sip folder or something. Uncle drive. It's like a personal, like insult. So he takes that personally, if she gets something like that, because if you click on it, you never know what happens.

First. It like compresses or uncompressed stuff, it takes forever. Then it like, uh, if the person who sent the link forgets to make it public or whatever, you can't even download it. And then the download will stop and you have to start [00:30:00] it over again. And all sorts of weird things happen. So Google drive is just the worst.

Malcom: [00:30:04] It is straight up awful. It is like. Whenever you send something to somebody on Google drive, you are deliberately taking up time of their life. Yeah, absolutely. Totally. 

Benedikt: [00:30:15] So don't use that use Dropbox instead, so easy. So simple works great. And, um, yeah. Have a shared Dropbox. Uh, that's basic stuff, but basically you need to have one.


Malcom: [00:30:27] all right. Uh, yeah, I was going to say we transfer is another great one. Just quickly send stuff, but it's not an automatic file structure, a solution. So Dropbox trumps that in my mind, but I, I'm not offended when people send me, we transfers. No. Yeah, 

Benedikt: [00:30:41] absolutely. Yeah. That's fine. Especially like the weed transfer pro that some people have where the links don't expire and stuff like that.

That's the best. Yeah. Alright. So yeah. Dropbox, Dropbox, paper, more sophisticated tools to work together to collaborate. There's something called. Asana. I hope I pronounced that. Right. But I think so. Um, yeah, [00:31:00] it's a tool. We use that with my band where you can have, I think, 15 up to 15 members and you have this workspace that you share, where you can have, um, tasks, you can assign tasks to people or people to tasks.

You can hold yourself accountable. You can integrate calendars. You can. Um, comment, you can send files. I think you have unlimited storage with a limit for an addition, for an individual file size, I think, but overall unlimited storage. Um, yeah, it's a really great collaboration tool and it's free the basic version and it's more than enough for a small team, like a band.

You could use it for the business basically if you're not more than 15 people in the business. So it's really awesome. Um, yeah. Look into that. That's a recommendation right there. Slack, we haven't, we don't have that on our list here, but Slack can also be great. It's like a, yeah. Yeah. Chats, um, thing with threads comments.

File-sharing not like, not as suited for project management, I guess, but good for communication. 

Malcom: [00:31:58] Yep. And communication is [00:32:00] important. I think, um, I w I think more Ben should do that because you don't need to have one messenger thread going for everything going on in the band. You could have one thread, like a forum kind of style thread going on for your merchant ideas and another for shows and another for rehearsals, you know, and that would make it way more organized.

Benedikt: [00:32:17] Yeah, totally. And that all has to do with keeping track of your progress, by the way. So we are like, it sounds like we're talking about different things now, but it's all part of that because everybody needs to know at all times, What has already been done and what is yet to do, and communication is just such a big part of it.

And if it's properly tracked, you have, you'll have less communication. And if you have great ways of communication, it will be easier to just, um, to keep track basically. So one thing needs the other, so it's like, You can't really track your progress if it's, it's too hard to find something in a chat or, um, if you don't even want to ask a question because it's all so complicated and unorganized, [00:33:00] so yeah, totally.

Malcom: [00:33:01] Uh, something we've started using recently, Benny and I is an app called Marco polo. Which is a pretty cool little app. It's like a video chat app that you just send video memos to each other. Um, but the people can watch it or rewatch it whenever they want. Uh, I don't, it's just like, I think it's quicker to send, because I think just talking into a microphone is a quick way to communicate.

I guess it's not really quicker to receive, so you gotta listen to it. Um, but it, I dunno, it's like a more real connection. I'm enjoying it so far. Pretty, pretty new to it, but. I know a lot of people are loving it and it's growing pretty quick. So it might be worth giving it a shot because actually in bands, things get lost in translation pretty often.

And in text messages. Yeah. So, uh, Marco polo eliminates that possibility. 

Benedikt: [00:33:52] Totally. It's like you have, if, as soon as you see someone's face, when they say something, you perceive it completely differently. Uh, and when you, when, [00:34:00] when you were talking about keeping track of things, Um, just a few bullet points, maybe something, because you're in a rush, maybe something even spelled wrong or something like that in a chat can lead to confusion and like, or things, taking something the wrong way and just a quick message with an app like that totally eliminates that.

And this comes across in a completely different way. And also. What I at first, I didn't understand the advantage compared to any other messenger, because you could always send the videos. The difference is you just click, you just hit the record button and you talk and then you stop and that's it. You don't have to upload a video or you don't have to wait until it's uploaded.

It just, just picks up the upload again. When you lose connections, stuff like that, you don't have to do anything other than like click the record button and stop it. And the other person can watch in real time or later, depending on the internet connection, but it's super easy, super quick. Um, and it's, it's a great communication tool, really.

So I also recommended it and it's fun. [00:35:00] And that's also part of keeping track of the other progress. Um, it should be fun because. The more organized you are and the simpler the stuff is the more you are like excited to get the project done. You are excited to move on as soon as you lose track, as soon as you're not sure what what's left to do, how long it will take, how much you've already achieved.

As soon as that happens, it starts to get a little frustrating people, lose motivation, and we've talked about it a lot, but. Making a record should be fun and you should be excited for the next and for what's to come. And that's why it's also so important, not just to not forget things, but also just to keep it exciting and to keep everyone in Wharf excited and ready to move on.

And that only happens if everyone knows what to do. And if the communication is fun and yeah. If you're just a great team, basically, there's the dynamic that happens. If, if it's just a great team where everyone knows what to do and everyone has their tasks and hold everyone else accountable. So, yeah, that's just part [00:36:00] of it.

And, uh, it's fun. Yeah, definitely. Okay. Um, then another concept here that, uh, yeah, I just. I just started using that. And I just told my mom about it before this episode, it's called alias folders on a Mac. If you're on a Mac computer, I don't know. I think that you could do the same on a PC. I don't know the name for that, but there is, um, the same thing I remember from PC days, there's the same thing.

Um, It's like, what's the English word for it? A shortcut, or, um, if you make a shortcut to a folder, like a little file, very, very small file that like, um, references a folder, or like moves you to the folder. And you can, if you create those, those little short cuts and organize them on your desktop or in some folder, um, if you make a.

Such an alias it's called on Mac for every single song folder, basically, or every single project folder. And then you create a folder structure where you just move those shortcuts, those aliases from one folder to the other, you can basically have something like a Trello [00:37:00] pipeline or what we do in a spreadsheet, or like you could have all the stages, all the phases of the project in this folder structure and just move the project forward without actually changing the actual.

File location, the actual full, the location that's important because you could just move the folders of course. But if you do that, it's very rarely a good idea to do that because like, um, yeah, the project file files just won't be able to find the audio files anymore. And it's just like leave the paths as they are leaves the folders where they are the actual fines files, but just move those short cuts, those areas.

That's something I do for the studio. I could see it used being used by bands as well. Um, yeah. If someone wants to try that and comes up with cool ways to use that, let us know. I'd be curious because I really like, I really enjoy it since I started using it. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:37:50] Yeah. So this is really a visual organization.

It's not actually organizing the files differently. Um, it is just now you have a folder that you can open on your computer and you can visually [00:38:00] see the status of each project. 

Benedikt: [00:38:02] Yes. And that's the beauty for me that when I open, when I get to work each day, I opened the computer. I opened that one folder on the desktop, which is called active projects.

And I immediately see what is, uh, what I can do today or what can be done or what needs to be done today, because there will be a song and mixing phase. There will be a song and mastering phase. Maybe one is in revision phase. And for you, this could mean you could have. One song that you need to program drums for in another song that you need to arrange vocal layers and another song where you need to get feedback on a demo or something like that.

So without looking at any of those tools or spreadsheets or something, you just open your folder on your computer and you immediately see which folder is in which, um, Like yeah. Face or state and, um, then you know what to do and what's next. And as soon as you've completed the task, you just move it to the next one.

Malcom: [00:38:55] Yeah. Like when you consider the alternative, the alternative is you happen to open up each [00:39:00] of these sessions to do manually check where they're at and listen, and be like, Oh yeah, the drums are still wrong on this. We have to program those and then close it. Like that takes way, you know, you're saving yourself minutes, which add up to hours.


Benedikt: [00:39:14] Oh yeah. Oh yeah, totally. This is kind of a weird area episode because it's such a simple topic and there's not much to say about it really, but still it's so important. And I remember, and I don't know if it's the same for you, Malcolm, but I remember it. Yeah. That I was doing it for years already with my bands.

And then when I started being a producer yeah. Without any of this, really, and it's so much easier now that I do. And like 10 years ago, Myself, 10 years ago, I couldn't have handled the clients and the projects and everything that I do now at all. I'd like no chance that I would have been able to would have been able to do what I do now.

And you, as a band, you don't have to like juggle clients and projects, but still, I know bands that are writing a full length record, but they're not writing like the 10 or 12 songs. They are writing 30 or 40 songs, and then they choose [00:40:00] 10 for the record, maybe. Right. And then. Once you start juggling like 30 songs over the course of a year, it can get pretty confusing and complicated.

So absolutely relevant. 

Malcom: [00:40:10] The project management of even just one full like 12 song album or something like that is one of the kind of most challenging parts. Of being the producer in that role is just like managing and maintaining and keeping everybody communicating on that project for the duration of the project as well.

It's honestly just as much work as the actual recording. 

Benedikt: [00:40:32] Yeah. Totally. There's one thing, one pushback to this whole theme to this whole topic. And that is don't overcomplicate things and don't get lost cost or don't make it, make it even more confusing with all those tools and the keeping track of everything, because.

There, depending on what type of person you are. They're like, if you're the type that like me, or like Malcolm is, we love this stuff. You know, we love these tools. We love to [00:41:00] dive into new productivity things and organizing things. And if you're that type of person, it can be pretty dangerous, especially if the rest of your band is not because it can be annoying for everybody else.

And it can be unnecessarily complicated. And I've seen cases where people that I work with have. Set up beautiful, really, really sophisticated, complicated spreadsheets where I was like, well, that's great, but I think you've really gone too far here, because if I look at that, it will take you forever. If you do it like that, um, you've estimated.

Way too much time for all the individual steps on that sheet. It makes the whole project seem impossible to, to finish it. If you look at a monster of a spreadsheet like that, everyone else in the band is like, we'll never get it done. It's so much work left when it actually isn't, but it looks like it is.

And it's the opposite of what it should be. It should motivate you. It should make it exciting and it should not look exhausting and uneasy and [00:42:00] impossible to achieve basically. And that can happen. 

Malcom: [00:42:02] Definitely. Yeah, we, cause we mentioned a lot of different approaches and tools and you're not meant to use all of them just in case there was any confusion on that.

It's kind of like which one works for you? I think the poster board is kind of like a do no matter what, I think you should have a poster board and one digital system probably. And between those two, you should be good. 

Benedikt: [00:42:21] Yeah, I think so. Yeah. Maybe. Yeah. That and maybe some sort of spreadsheet, depending on if you use it poster board, I'm like, I don't know.

Or the, the Dropbox paper or document, like I would have what the post support is in the studio. I would have that in digital form just so everybody can look into it wherever they are. And then I would have some sort of digital thing where you can actually communicate and work on the project. Like. Did somebody said something like a sauna or a Dropbox paper where you can do all of that or whatever.

Yeah. But one tool to communicate digitally and one place, we can look at the progress and see it immediately. 

Malcom: [00:42:55] Yeah. And that might even be the same app, you know? You might find something that does both. 

Benedikt: [00:42:59] Yeah, totally. [00:43:00] Anything else as you. 

Malcom: [00:43:01] I think that is a lot of information on how to organize a project. 

Benedikt: [00:43:05] I think so it was good.

I hope Thomas was able to like chop that up and organize it in a way that this episode makes sense so that you can actually, uh, yeah. Keep up with this episode and it doesn't in our, um, yeah. How back and forth makes sense to you. But I think it does. And, um, Yeah, send us your ways that how to organize things or how you do it.

People might use different things and we don't know about them. So just let us know what you do. Join the community on Facebook and let everyone know there. So if you go to the self recording band.com/community, you can join that free Facebook group and just share how you organize your files or ask people for advice.

And, um, I'm sure there are a lot of methods and cool trips and tricks that we are not aware of. So, so, uh, let us know. 

Malcom: [00:43:51] Let's get, we love. New tools. So if you have a cool app that you're just loving, please share it on the community. I want to see that stuff 

Benedikt: [00:43:58] totally. And all the links to those [00:44:00] tools, basically that we've been taught talking about.

Um, we'll be in the show notes as well. So if you go to the self recording band.com/ 28, you will find. The show notes and by the way, that works with every single episode. So you just type in the surf recording band.com/and then the number of the episode, and you will be forwarded to the show notes page with all the links.

Awesome. All right, so you next week. Thank you for listening. Okay. Bye. 

Malcom: [00:44:23] Bye. .

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