84: Organize Your Projects Like A Pro

84: Organize Your Projects Like A Pro

What does your typical project layout look like? 

  • Which colors do you use on which tracks? 
  • What about the routing and your bus structure?
  • How do you make sure you never lose any takes?
  • How do you keep track of all the magic moments happening in a session, so that you can move on quickly and then reliably come back to find them?
  • How do you navigate your session quickly and switch between tasks?
  • What about going back to previous stages of the session, archiving files and accessing mixes, stems, masters, demos etc quickly and everywhere?
If you don't have a good answer to any of these questions, this episode is for you.

Listen now and learn to set up your session and workflow like a pro!


This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.

Benedikt's voice on this episode has been recorded with the Antelope Axino Synergy Core.

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

TSRB Podcast 84

[00:00:00] Benedikt: I wonder how many, like magic moments I've already lost when I started, because I didn't do that. Right. I just thought I could remember, but then I couldn't and then I just didn't bother and used whatever we had stopped 

[00:00:13] Malcom: told the filter. 

[00:00:16] Benedikt: 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. It's recording band podcast. I am your host then at a time. And I'm here with my friend and cohost Malcolm. Oh, and flood. How are you? Malcolm? It's been awhile. 

[00:00:38] Malcom: I'm great man. Overworked, overtired, but, uh, finally on a day off here. So looking forward to that, how about you? You had a great vacation.

Oh, totally. 

[00:00:48] Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. Uh, it's the opposite for me. I'm not overworked. I am. I've never been less overworked 

[00:00:56] Malcom: places. 

[00:00:57] Benedikt: Yeah. We spent time in Italy with the family and [00:01:00] then another week of vacation at home and I'm refreshed and full of energy and, um, yeah, things are good. 


[00:01:08] Malcom: Where in Italy did you go?


[00:01:10] Benedikt: were to lake Garda, um, beautiful lake in Italy and, um, That's a beautiful place, like five or six hours from where I live. And we've been there before a couple of times, actually, and this time we went with both kids and some friends of ours and it was just a wonderful time. Well, that's great. 

[00:01:28] Malcom: Is that up in like the mountains, more Northern Italy?


[00:01:33] Benedikt: that is yeah. Sort of it's yeah. It's south of the south of the mountain. Yeah. It's actually still a little bit in the mountains. Yeah. It's north in Italy. 

[00:01:41] Malcom: Definitely. Cool. Yeah. It's a beautiful, beautiful. 

[00:01:44] Benedikt: Yeah. Oh, yeah, absolutely. It was still warm there still summer. And hat's just awesome. Great. So, um, what about your, um, gates that you had this stuff you did, but like you said, you were overworked, you worked on some [00:02:00] cool projects, but wasn't, 

[00:02:02] Malcom: it was just insane.

Um, I worked on, let me think since we last did an episode, I think I've worked on like three documentary. Too short films, a commercial and a reality show. Um, and yeah, it's just been mayhem back to back, back to back. Um, and fun fact protocols has crashed on me twice since we started this. I'm just going to give up on it.

Uh, we're going to trust Riverside too, to not screw this up. This 

[00:02:35] Benedikt: district court exception right now, crashes. 

[00:02:39] Malcom: That's a, that's an unheard of even for protocols, but, but, uh, yeah, so, um, just did a lot traveled all over the island went way up north on the Vancouver island where I live. I went to Tofino culet, which are just beautiful beach town.

That's in the city. It's been, it's been wild and, uh, I haven't done one music thing this [00:03:00] month, so that's a little weird. It's just been a total total shift. Um, Cool. I don't know. I'm loving it to be honest. It's been awesome. 

[00:03:10] Benedikt: Yeah. I totally believe you. D do you plan on like, doing like, will you, will you work on mixing projects and studio projects again 

[00:03:18] Malcom: next?

Yes. Yes. I'll be mixing a song this week or two songs this week, for sure. Um, and mastering a few as well, going a handful in the, in the queue that were waiting for me to free up. So going to get those done 

[00:03:31] Benedikt: for sure. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I dunno, it's, it's, I think it's kind of cool to switch between totally different things just because it keeps you fresh, I guess.

So sometimes I'm very glad I'm still specialized and sometimes. Um, I think it could actually be an advantage, choose, switch between different things just to get a fresh perspective. I don't know. It 

[00:03:50] Malcom: works out really well when it happens like this, where it's like a block dedicated to one thing. And now I've got a block of time.

I can dedicate just to being in this room in the studio and [00:04:00] not like my brain doesn't have to do both jobs at the same time. That is when it works just perfectly. It's when you have like, Half a day and you need to crank out a mix before you go to a film shoot for that afternoon. That's when things get messy and really challenging and exhausting.

[00:04:14] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. I think I, yeah, I can, I can only imagine, like, as I always say, I don't know, I don't know anything about this whole film world thing, but it always sounds stressful to me. And I'm so glad you're enjoying it because it sounds like a nightmare to me, but yeah. I mean, I could see it if the balanced.

Yeah. Yeah, totally. Yeah. And now this is actually, um, this brings me to today's topic sort of, because I think if you're switching between different stuff and you, you basically take a break from working in the studio for awhile, when you get back to it, you want to be fast efficient. You don't want to think about things too much.

You want to start where you were before and you want to have a familiar environment to work. [00:05:00] And you can only do that if you're organized and structured. And if you have a way you set up your sessions or studio, so it doesn't take you a week to get back and used to everything again, like when you start in the studio, I assume.


[00:05:13] Malcom: Yeah. Organization is everything, especially like on both sides of it. Uh, Dome set. I mean, there's, there's, I have like three cases of like little tiny adapters and stuff that I have to make sure they're all with me. It's like, that's the most stressful part is like, do I have everything? Cause it's, there's so much, it's too much for a checklist even.

Um, and then yeah, coming back, I need to, I mean, I've got lists for all the projects that I've got open that I gotta make sure that nobody slips through the cracks. Once I get back into the studio, Um, and yeah, and then just like that muscle memory process and organization of my sessions. So I can just sit back and my brain can automatically jump back into that work mode without having to relearn how to do the job, right?

[00:05:57] Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, part of it is [00:06:00] using those checklists and templates and stuff. And we did a whole episode on that. Actually. I'm going to put the, the episode number in the show notes, because I can't remember right now, but we have a whole episode on using templates, templates and checklists and.

Little workflow helpers to the top, you with that. But what we haven't talked about in much detail is how you actually structure and organize your projects, your project files in pro tools or Cubase or logic or whatever do you use? Because I think there is, there are some best practices. There are certainly things that we like to do that maybe others don't like, it's a personal thing as well.

But I think everyone working on a lot of projects or everyone, uh, who wants to, um, just keep making progress and stay in the cell and, and be create. Uh, kind of built their, their own systems, their own ways to lay out, to, to manage the session layout, to keep things organized. And we want to share with you how we do it, and we want to share certain things that we think make sense.

Just so, as you said, nothing [00:07:00] slips through the cracks. That's true for the product. As well, you don't want to lose any takes. You don't want to spend hours searching for the one take that was good, like one and a half hours ago or so, um, you want to be organized so that you find everything at all times and just keep the project moving forward.

Um, now how do we start there? What are. What is w how do you start if you, like, you assume you have a template, but if you would start from scratch with a blank session, as many people do every time over again, what would you do? Um, what, what's the first thing you would do to keep things. The 

[00:07:34] Malcom: first thing I would do is probably color code, a bunch of tracks.

Um, so it's super important to me that all my drums are one color and all my bass tracks are one color. All my guitars are another color. And actually, because guitar is often have like guitar one, two, and leads or something like that, there are different shades of the same color often for me. Um, just to differentiate them.

Color-coding like the blocks of groups. And I [00:08:00] should say, I guess one step before that would be moving all of those files next to each other. If I, if that's not happening, you're really unorganized. I can't even imagine how stressful that would be. Imagine you're, you're kicking your snare up beside each other or something.

[00:08:14] Benedikt: No, that that's, I I'm sure that our people do it like that, but they nailed that very weird for me. Some weird layouts in the pop world though. Like some people have the kick and then I don't know the vocal at the top. And then the kick drum and then maybe some. Baseline, and then the snare somewhere. And like, sometimes if it's not an organic drum kit, but like samples and electronic stuff, I've seen pretty weirdly out, at least weird to me, but in the rock world where you're dealing with real instruments or, um, trying to mimic real instruments or whatever, I like to keep things next to each other.


[00:08:48] Malcom: definitely. Definitely. Um, yeah, but yeah, color coding it. So I can just look at it and make sense of it immediately. That's that's my, my main thing. And I would say like a quick segue from that is track folders, [00:09:00] which are like, I've only had them for about a year in pro tools, but they are just such a organizational blessing.

It's awesome. For 

[00:09:08] Benedikt: sure. For sure. Definitely. Um, Yeah, pro tools just implemented, which is hilarious to everyone else. But if you're using Cubase and stuff like that, we have track folders. We have had those for awhile and. I dunno. Yeah. I think that's one of the most useful features actually, because I don't want to look at a hundred check tracks all the time.

I just want to make things visible when I need them and then hide them again. So that's what track folds do. I totally agree. Um, I would always organize them in tracks in those folders. And also, I didn't, I don't even know how pro tools did that before they had track folders, because in Cubase, for example, you use them also to edit things.

So you would group things in a, in a track folder, and then there's a button that sort of links the tracks together. So there's no FES mess up. Like when you cut one track, it cuts all of the tracks. And when you move one track, everything moves with that one track. Right? There's no way without track [00:10:00] folders that you could do that in Cubase.

I think, I don't know how I did that, but for editing reasons different. Yeah. They are necessary in Cuba, but just the organizing it's, it's neat to have. 

[00:10:11] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And if you don't know what we're talking about, it's literally, uh, it's like a bus, like an ox track, but it can hide like you collapse it and all of the tracks inside of it become invisible and they're just represented by that one track full.

So you can have like hundreds and hundreds of tracks and your session, and then you click a button and then they all collapsed down to five folders or whatever you organize it as, as it's, uh, it's tremendously helpful. 

[00:10:37] Benedikt: Oh yeah, absolutely. But it's not to be confused with actual groups or buses because you can't have plugins on them and stuff.

It's just, or at least in Cubase, it's just position. You just put the tracks in there and can hide them and show them. But it's not like a group track where that. 

[00:10:52] Malcom: Are you saying that the folder tracks and pro tools are better than in Cubase 

[00:10:57] Benedikt: in pro tools have plugins 

[00:10:59] Malcom: on them and stuff [00:11:00] they act exactly as, uh, AKIs tracks do or a bus.

If, if yeah, if you want to, it can be both. There's a there's there's called like a folder or there it's got a name. Um, I can't remember what the two names are, but essentially yeah, you have the option of it just being a folder where it's just like a view option, essentially. It doesn't wrote anything or you can route to it and it has an input and output, uh, sends and inserts.

It's great. 

[00:11:27] Benedikt: Okay. I don't know if I like that to me just because I'm not used to it. To me, a folder is just a place to put tracks and hide them. And then I use buses and stuff in groups for, for other stuff, but yeah, it gets the job. And, uh, so, uh, for organizing reasons, just to have some way, I think, to alpha, I've putting tracks together that belong together, hiding them, showing them.

And then, um, yeah, and the next, uh, bullet point here on our list is actually the buses and the, the, the groups which apparently ProTools can do on [00:12:00] those track folders in Cubase and other doors. I think you have to create a different kind of track, which is a bus or a group or a, an ox or whatever it is.

And then you send the tracks that you want to have in this group. You send it to that group and then you can process that group, just like the layout on a, on an analytic board. It's the same thing. Um, so in Cuba is those are different things and that is actually the next. Or I think that's, for me, probably the most important of all things though.

The first one that I get sorted out is the routing. I just want to have immediately, when I start a blank session, I want to be able to solo the drums or, um, so just, just to make sure that every single track goes to, uh, a bus that I assigned to it is very important to me because I have this best structure.

That's just important for the way I work. Um, and I just can't have everything goes straight into the master. Put buses in between my individual tracks and the masters. So I probably start with the routing and then I would call a [00:13:00] code and, and stuff, or one, one step basically, rather than color coding, labeling all that.

So that I see everything and everything goes to the right place. And only then will I start to do anything else? 

[00:13:12] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. All of that has to be done before you actually do any mixing, which is just hilarious. Yeah. Now we kind of glossed over templates. Um, we've, we've talked about templates before, but templates are essentially.

Uh, you can just save all of that. All of that work we just talked about doing, you can just make it. So when you start a new session, it just automatically pops up. Now there's a big misconception with templates where people think it's like somehow cheating and that it's mixing the song for you. But in reality, it's just taking care of all this non mixing stuff and letting you actually meet.

Yeah, really quick. Um, and, and yeah, that routing stuff is like 99% of what my template is. It's just, I know all my drums go to the right drum bus. Uh, I've got my side chain stuff set up already. If I want it, reverbs are already routed already sending to, [00:14:00] you know, stem groups and stuff like that. It's, it's like literally hours of work taken out of the equation every time.


[00:14:06] Benedikt: amazing. Absolutely. Totally. We don't even have just the drum bus and the guitar bus, but we have. Oh, I assume you do as well. Uh, I at least have a kick bus, a snare, but it's a Tom's bus. Um, so if I have multiple kickbacks, I can send them to one to one track. If I have multiple snare mics, I can send them to one track.

Those go to the drum bus, sometimes the drums and the bass go on into one bus. And then I don't know, like things like. Then the stems, as you said, then there is an additional mixed bus before the master. So I have all these different steps where it can, where I can group tracks together and process them together and export them.

And if I had to do that every single time, that would be such a waste of time. So that's definitely part of organizing the session. Now, when it comes to actually organizing and improving the workflow while you're tracking, because we've talked about templates and stuff like that and other episodes, but what we haven't really talked about much.

How to actually [00:15:00] manage your takes and your files and how to use playlists and take folders and stuff like that. And I think that that's really important too, for people because I've seen so many sessions. And I know for a fact that a lot of my, um, a lot of the artists that I'm working with, struggle with that as well.

I see it because they sent me stuff. That's. They think it's organized, but to strangers, it doesn't make sense at all. Sometimes. And sometimes they lose their own takes or do they have to search for them and can't remember where they have them. So I just know that a lot of people are struggling with that and that a lot of people, myself included a couple of years ago, just put one take over the other and they just move on without.

Um, organizing the stuff or marking it or making sure that they can find stuff again. So I think that is really, really important and that there's, it's the balance between being able to move fast. So you don't want to be stuck all the time with like labeling and color-coding and moving stuff around, but also you want to keep it organized enough so that you can go back and find stuff.

So there's, there's this balance [00:16:00] and absolutely. Yeah. And I I'm curious how you do that because that's again different in. Um, duh, but I assume you're using playlists and pro tools probably in Cubase. It's a, it's a sort of take folder. There's a button. And when you click on it, it like opens or collapses and it shows you all the different types.

Right one below the other, and then you can mark certain areas and confident together and do things like, yeah, 

[00:16:27] Malcom: it sounds like it's virtually the same as, as ProTools playlist. Um, if you're unfamiliar with either of those terms, we just you'd use playlists or takes, and I'm sure another doll has a different name for it.

Um, th the reason I mentioned if you're not familiar with it, because when I first started and was trying to figure out pro tools without reading the manual, I would just make a new track every time I wanted to like, have an additional steak and that doesn't work real quick, you figure out, so playlists are just allowing you to record another take on the same track, and it just highlights the previous one, if you want it to.[00:17:00] 

Um, and then from there, you're able to. You're like the ultimate performance out, grabbing the best bit out of each take. Right. Um, or just compare, reference, which ones you like and try different things. Right. Without recording over the previous audio. So yeah, I use playlist as well. I kind of have a system where I try and keep the top of playlist, the visible playlist as what I want it to be.

So only, only keeper stuff lives there, kind of thing. Otherwise it's hidden and I can go digging for it if I want to, but I generally, I'm trying to comp on the fly and throw whatever I like up to that top 

[00:17:40] Benedikt: place. Yes. I totally agree. I like to, whenever there's something that I really like, I just immediately pull it up there.

Uh, so I can remember, or if there's like multiple versions that I liked that I'm not sure. And we need to make that decision later. I make a note. Definitely because otherwise I will forget, I will use something like, okay. Um, that was take number [00:18:00] seven or whatever, this and that part. And that would make a note so that I can go back to that later because like an hour later I would say, Hmm, that was good.

Yeah. I remember that one take there. It just felt better. And I can immediately go back to that because I made a note and I know it's there and I can find it. And, uh, yeah. I wonder how many, like magic moments I've already lost when I started, because I didn't do that. Right. I just thought I could remember, but then I couldn't and then I just didn't bother and used whatever we had when we stopped recording 

[00:18:31] Malcom: told they told it.

Yeah, I am a big fan of having a notepad beside me, so I can just jot down a take number. A little tiny note. I felt like this little hieroglyphic system I use that makes no sense to anybody else, just something I invented and tells me what I thought of each phrase kind of thing. Um, and then, uh, you know, you can use the notes section on your dog or something.

Usually the little comments box or something on the track. I find that to be too slow and tools. Um, and then there is a rating system. Like [00:19:00] rarely used, but I can actually grab a clip and, and give it like a star rating out of five. Um, and then technically that would be helpful going back. You can also just like rename the clip, just double click it and just be like, good.

[00:19:14] Benedikt: Yeah. I don't, I don't even know if cubix can do that. Renaming or like rating Trump flips, but it makes so much sense. Yeah. 

[00:19:21] Malcom: Yeah. It's cool workflow, but it's honestly not my normal go-to. 

[00:19:25] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. I do the notes as well, sort of, but, but I like, yeah, I have to look into that. I like that concept. So whatever you do, just make sure you don't lose any of the magic moments that can happen in a session and you just keep it organized and not overwhelming because I think at some point you like in almost every session you would, I would reach a point where.

Um, the, the amount of takes and the size of the session got so overwhelming that I didn't even bother going back and listening to everything. And I just listened to the last three or four takes or whatever, or maybe the first one. Because it just got too much and [00:20:00] there's no way I could remember every single performance and probably some have some really good parts, um, slipped through the cracks because of that.

So I try to avoid that now, um, at all costs and the way to do that is just make notes and, and also just do that on the fly. What you said, like just move the good stuff up there immediately. And try to build your final take as you go. I think that's, that's the best way to go about it because then everything that comes after it builds on that and you always have the best, um, takes ready to go there.

And I also, I'm pretty, I don't know, that's probably risky, but I also like to get rid of unused or bad takes pretty fast, pretty quickly. Like the ones I really know. We're not good. I would just get rid of them pretty quickly and, and just keep the session clean. And, um, you can, you can always make backups before you do that.

You can create backups and then clean up the session. But I'm pretty, I like keeping the session small and lean and not overwhelming. And I just get rid of stuff and hard drive space is cheap. So just [00:21:00] make a backup and then clean up your session and go. And if you really need to go back, you have the old tracks there, but usually.

Delete them and that's it. And I clean up stuff and I commit stuff as I go. And that takes practice. But now when that, when the recording session is done, I basically have all my final takes and they are ready to be edited. And I don't have to search through the takes as much as I used to have to. Yeah. 

[00:21:24] Malcom: I think that being afraid to record over a clip or just not even commit a clip, um, like in pro tools, there's a key command.

If, if they screw up, you can just click. Command period. And it deletes it. Like it's like, it never happened. It never existed. It doesn't get written to the drive. Um, and, and so that, that clip's literally permanently gone destructively gone. And like, I was like, why would they make this button that's terrifying.

But now I have the option, like opposite opinion. If the take is flubbed, why would you want that to live on your computer at all? And it has happened where I'm like, okay, we need to finger it. Doesn't like this line. I have to go and [00:22:00] search through the other tape. And I get to that one and I'm listening to this flub take where they say the wrong word again.

And I'm like, okay, that just wasted 10 seconds of my life. I sort of just deleted it. So don't be afraid to clear that out there should only be really the only things in your playlist should be possibly usable. Um, there's no reason to keep anything that's 

[00:22:16] Benedikt: not. Yeah, totally. And I don't know if there's a again, if, if it's the same thing in protocols, but in Cubase, for example, you don't have to do that manually.

You just do your comps and everything, and then you can just go to where the audio files live. And there is a button that says, get rid of unused audio, and then it deletes everything. That's not in the session. You got to be careful with that. If, if done, right. If you set up the session, right. And if you've made backups, then just do that.

And it just turns a hundred gigabyte session into a five gigabyte session, or so, depending on how big the project is. So yeah. Commit as you go clean up, uh, on the flag comp on the fly, and then there's a difference between, oh, no one thing before I say that. Sorry, one thing, um, you mentioned it briefly in that I want to [00:23:00] touch on that again and then.

With playlists or these track folders, just to make sure you understand the concept of that. Um, you can just record a loop, for example, over and over again, and it doesn't delete what you've done previously. It just put. On top of it and hides the, the, the take before. And when you hit play, it plays back, whatever you recorded last, but everything else is still there because I know for a fact that a lot of people are afraid to, or like they don't even think about recording on the same track again, because they think what they've done before will be, will be the deleted them.

Like it was on tape, for example. Right. And there is a mode in Cuba, at least where you can do that. Like you can set it so that when you record. Over a previous take that it actually overwrites the previous take, but I don't know why we would ever want to do that. 

[00:23:46] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. It's called destructive mode in pro tools, destructive recording.

And I've never used it once. So yeah, you probably like I've been doing this for awhile. You probably don't need to use that. Uh, pro tools is a little different in that if I record over a clip in just [00:24:00] kind of normal quick punch mode, um, it will appear like that clips gone. It's not on another playlist.

But it is still in the session. You just have to go to the like audio, you have to kind of find it in ways. Um, so it's it's as if you over rode it over. I don't know how to say that if I recorded it over it, but, uh, it, uh, it's, it's technically still there. Um, but I like rarely, as soon as I do that, I treat it as if I deleted it because I there's a reason I recorded it over it.

[00:24:30] Benedikt: Yeah. Oh, okay. I didn't know that, but knowing 

[00:24:33] Malcom: what you were talking about is called loop promote and ProTools. 

[00:24:36] Benedikt: Oh, okay. Okay. Now Cuba is whenever I record over, like the default mode is whenever I record over the previous take, it will just put it below it in this folder that I can like view. And then yeah, just, just there.

And the, the loop mode is pretty awesome as well. And incubate, you don't have to use that mode, but it's like the fall thing. Um, you can. Mark a certain part of the song and then [00:25:00] recorded in a loop over and over again. And it will create one continuous audio file. That's just being looped and you can, you can even like expand it and then it will be longer than that loop.

Like it's one continuous file in QA. So, um, it doesn't even cut off the end or the beginning, if you, if you do the loop, not, not precise enough. So it's very neat and very fast. Yeah. And that way you can, you can just focus on one part and do it over and over and over again until it's right. And if you messed up just one note, you can search through all the other takes and just put that one note in and then commit, 

[00:25:33] Malcom: throw the building.

It's all sorts of little tricks. If you, if you need them. 

[00:25:38] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And then, um, this concept of camping, I think, is also new to some people. And I've heard that in your podcast episode with wet future where, um, apparently some people don't even know that this is a thing and that they think they have to record, start to finish the whole, the whole song.

Um, no, you don't, you can record the whole song a couple of times and then put the best parts [00:26:00] together. That's that's what we mean with. 

[00:26:02] Malcom: Totally. Yeah. Just take the best out of each take and combine them totally possible. Yeah. If you can nail it. Awesome. But it's just going to take a lot of time and there's so many advantages to not doing that.

[00:26:16] Benedikt: Absolutely. Now what about backups and, or save as like, how do you do that? Because that is something, it took me a while to figure out a system that I use now, because. To me, those are different things. Like when I create a backup, I make a backup of the whole session with all the files that belong to it.

And I, um, put that on a separate location on the drive, make sure the track folders unique so that I don't accidentally overwrite things. That's a backup, like a complete copy of the whole session folder, basically. Yeah. But then if you do a save as it's just saved in the same folder, just with a different name, so you can go, you can jump to, um, Yeah.

The places in time, basically. Yeah. And go back an hour and see what you did [00:27:00] there. So I would use the backups before every time I do something, not every time, but when I do something really destructive or something that could go wrong, I'll do a backup, just so I have the files, but every time I just want to be able to go back to a previous stage, sort of, I do a save as, so for example, I have a rough mix I have, um, after editing and then I have.

The mix. And maybe if I do the mastering the same session, that's another, I don't know that you can do it different ways, but that's a save ask basically. Or if I do like a mix and then I do a mixed revision for the band, I definitely have a safe. Um, different version of the mix that I can go back to in case they want to undo their revision or go back to the original one, 

[00:27:43] Malcom: right?

Yeah. So for me, yeah, I think I do like an actual backup once a day, pretty much. Um, at the end of the day I do a backup, uh, otherwise it's the save as with, uh, I just use the date, I just put the date and then if I'm doing another save, as on the same day, I start using [00:28:00] letters. So it'll be like 2109 what's today's date, uh, 20.

A then B then C kind of thing. And then, um, and then I have, uh, like a auto backup set on pro tools to backup literally every minute there's a, a backup that's happening as well. Um, so it's pretty, it really, I haven't really been burned because of that. It's just frequently enough. Um, then, then yeah, uh, Emmanuel actual backup of the whole session onto another dry.

Uh, every day and then I've got cloud blaze, um, or Backblaze sorry, uh, doing a cloud backup of everything constantly as well. And that's really my process. 

[00:28:38] Benedikt: Cool. Cool. So, yeah, just can't stress enough. How important backups are. We have an episode on that as well, but I wanna, I just wanna put it here because it's part of organizing a session, I assume.

Yeah. And also, uh, one thing that can go really wrong and we haven't mentioned that yet is right, right in the beginning. You should make sure that you are using a unique, like session folder on the right [00:29:00] drive and the right location, because you can accidentally use another session four, which is still your audio files.

And then when you clean up that other session, the tracks in the session, you're now working on argon as well. So that, that definitely can happen. I've heard horror stories. Like that, where people thought they cleaned up an old session and what they really did was deleted the set, the tracks that belong to a current session.

Yes. So you never want that to happen. Just make sure you're using a unique file for the folder, for all the audio files and not a shared folder or something. That's also, depending on the door sometimes make that really weird in some doors. They just put everything. Every new session you create is put into the, like the audio files are dumped into the same audio folder on your computer.

Right. And that is, that is getting messy so quickly. Like you can't do it. Yeah. 

[00:29:45] Malcom: Another warning is that if you drag things into your session, like you, maybe you grab a sample or a loop or something from some website and it goes to your downloads. And then you drag it into your door. You have to make sure that your door is set to import that not just reference it [00:30:00] so that when you record something in your file, it probably goes to a specific audio folder for that session.

But when you drag it in from somewhere else in your computer, it might just be referencing it. So it's just saying, oh, Hey, at this point, play this song file from your downloads folder. So once you delete it from your downloads folder, it no longer is able to find it and you're in trouble. Um, yeah. Make sure that's not what's happening.

That's like that, that was a stressful day for me. One time, many years ago. 

[00:30:30] Benedikt: I can't imagine. Yeah, absolutely. That's a good one. Make sure you do that. Now. I'm curious Malcolm, you've put on our notes here that you have folder structure for all your balances that you use throughout the session. Like how do.


[00:30:45] Malcom: if anybody's ever emailed me to start working with me, even potentially start working with me, congratulations, your name lives in a Dropbox folder on my computer. And in that folder, there is almost always a demo folder. So like there's a folder with your name [00:31:00] and then there's like a bunch more folders inside of that folder of your name.

And there's like demos, references, mixes and masters. Um, sometimes there's more like there might be pre masters. Um, there might be. Uh, a shared folder. If we're doing like co-production stuff where they need to send stuff with me as well. Uh, like, but generally what I just mentioned is kind of like the norm.

So demos are what the band sends to me. They're like, Hey, what do you think of this song that lives in demos? Uh, references is the files I sent them of where we're at. As we were completing the project, like add, this is a current current, like rough mix. That's a reference. And then mixes is when I'm actually doing mixes.

It's like, Hey, here's your. Let me know if you approve it, that lives in there. Um, although I send them a file pass link, not that Dropbox, like in that case. And then masters is where I actually put the final, full Rez master file that is going to be living there for the rest of the time. 

[00:31:55] Benedikt: That makes total sense.

I like 

[00:31:57] Malcom: that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So it's just that there's one place for all of [00:32:00] their key profiles and not even keep her files, but there's all the relevant files while we're on the project. And, uh, That, that works great for me. I know some people do it differently and I'm almost like always curious to hear how other people do it, but some people, like, for example, when you bounce something on pro tools, it wants to default to sending it to a bounce folder in the session folder, not to this external Dropbox folder like I do.

Um, and that could work totally for sure. Um, but, uh, yeah, so that's what I do. I would recommend having some kind of system and just being as consistent with it as. 

[00:32:35] Benedikt: That's very cool. Yeah. Um, what you just said with the bounce folder inside the session folder, that's the default for Cubase as well, but I, and I think for logic, it's the same thing.

And I did that for years. Actually I saved right. Sometimes I even created my own folder, but also in the session folder sort of. So I saved my balances with the session. I don't do that. Um, anymore. I changed that [00:33:00] because. When I archive sessions that I don't need anymore, I still want to be able to just listen to a mix idea to cut a while ago.

So I want to have my balances, my masters, my mixes in a separate folder. That's not being archived that I always have access to. That's that's one of the reasons. Why I don't balance to the session folder anymore. And, but what I do so that the masters and stems and everything else is still archived with the session is I will just, um, I don't know if there's a way to do that in protocols again, but in, in Cubase you can, um, there's a checkbox when you explore.

That says, like it gives you options to, what do you want to do after the export is done? And one of those options is, uh, it re imports the bounce, the mix down into the session on a new track. And I always click that so that I have my prints, basically my master mix and whatever I want to have in there in the actual session.

And I really liked that because first of all, it's it's archive with the session. And second, I just have it in my session. If I want to [00:34:00] reference it, if I want to do, if I do a revision or if I want to go back to the previous version, I can just AB between my current mix and whatever I did before. So I have all my versions of the mixes and masters.

Um, below the session in a folder, I'm not routed to the master just muted. Um, and but if I need them, I can just pull them up. So I re-import my bounces basically, to, to a new track. Some people print, if you, if you use hardware and you print in real time, some people just print it to a new track in the session.

You can also do that, that I really like having every version of the mix in the actual cell. Yeah, 

[00:34:35] Malcom: you got to know that that's a great practice for sure. And I've definitely, you can do that, but only when I'm bouncing the, I think it has to be a wave file. So if I'm bouncing an MP3, I don't think I can re automatically reimport it.

I think I have to manually to it. So it's just a, a small workflow pain in the ass 

[00:34:50] Benedikt: there. Now I don't ever do the MP3 thing I just sent with us, so, oh, wow. Big shot.[00:35:00] 

I don't know. Like I, they were, I don't know. I've never, never thought I'd. The smaller file or whatever, I don't know, show off.

Um, except for this podcast, this podcast is export it as an MP3, always because that's what our software requires us to upload. 

[00:35:20] Malcom: You know, I was always like full resume files all the time, non death. And, uh, and then I worked with Eric rats on my band's album, big producer, you know, Juno winner. And he sent me MP3s.

Yeah, this works great

waves when we're done. 

[00:35:39] Benedikt: It makes, I think it makes sense because people are listening to it on their phones. They downloaded, you want to have small files and stuff. But I think these days with phones that have, I know north of a hundred gigabytes of storage and fast internet and all that, I don't know, you can just, I think you can just send for foot waves, but maybe it's more convenient with the MP3s.

I just always, I've just always worried about. I sent [00:36:00] out something that's not the best it can be. I don't know. 

[00:36:03] Malcom: Yeah, no, I get it. Yeah. It really, it is the speed thing. Canada's cell data stuff is still just totally awful. Oh, MP3 is definitely make a difference 

[00:36:12] Benedikt: if you're oh, okay. Yeah, that makes sense though.

And to be honest, like that fear is sort of irrational because I don't think. I don't really believe if you claim you hear the difference between a well-made three 20 MP3 and the wave. If you hear that immediately, especially on a phone, I think you're lying. So for most people I think. 

[00:36:30] Malcom: Yeah. So, yeah. And, uh, I mean, we're still off topic now, but like using file paths, for example, I know that it's going to be represented correctly with Dropbox.

For example, Mike like caught some distortion and stuff like that. So, um, I'm pretty normal. 

[00:36:47] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I didn't want to end, this is the last thing I want to say about that. I didn't want to say that you can't hear a difference between MP3 in a way, if you definitely can, but I think too, for a quick check on a phone, it's not enough of a difference, um, [00:37:00] that, that it wouldn't make it, um, that it wouldn't be usable, like just to, to check a mix and make revisions to the MP3 is enough.

Yeah, I agree. Okay. So, um, There's that. And then, uh, two things you added here that I really like is, and I totally forgot about that, but it's so important in organizing a session that is the memory locations in the session, like markers or it's what they call it. Usually we can just jump to a chorus or to a verse or, um, to a certain part of the mix that you marked.

And that is so useful. And I don't know why that that's one of those things that I haven't done for years. And I only started doing it two or three years ago before that I had. Manually, like I was searching for different parts or I just remembered what the way forms looked like in different parts and use that to navigate the session until I found out how easy it actually is to make these markers and just assign them to your keyboard, like the numbers number, pad or whatever.

And then just write a, to the chorus when I want to. Um, and. [00:38:00] Insanely helpful. 

[00:38:02] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. Visually I find it really like, it helps my brain out a lot, just looking at the screen and seeing it's like by color as well. And I can just see the blocks and see it all kind of get put together, um, and reference where there's missing holes in like the vocal track and stuff like that as well.

Just kind of, uh, it works really well for me. I definitely can't really mix a song without those 

[00:38:23] Benedikt: being there in the mix. And also when you record it, Um, what I w what I used to do all the time and I'm, I feel so down, um, that I did that, but when I was in the studio, in the studio with a band for the longest time, when the, when someone is in the, in the tracking room, for example, the vocalist, and they would say, ah, let's do the chorus again, or whatever.

Let's jump to the chorus. Then I was like, uh, what's the chorus again? Where's the chorus again? Like, where do I have to look for. Just, is it in the middle of the song at the beginning, or? I don't know. I have to ask the stupid questions because I didn't have my markers there. And like, it's so [00:39:00] unprofessional.

And if you do that in the beginning of the session and you sit down with the band or with your bandmates and you take the time to just mark everything, write down what the parts are called. Um, and then when, when somebody says, Hey, let's listen to the bridge again, you just jumped to the bridge and you don't have to ask, but I had to ask.

For years, I think because 

[00:39:23] Malcom: yeah, it, uh, I mean, some honestly that's still happens sometimes because I'm like, oh, that's the chorus. And they're like, no, that's our verse. I'm like, oh 

[00:39:30] Benedikt: yeah. That's why now, like the last couple of projects I did, I sat down with the band, um, when, when we listened to the demos or when we started the recording, we would listen to the demos and I would ask them what they call the tracks so that I know they're.

Understanding of it. So I would just sit down with them and that we would listen to the demo once and while we will listen to it, I would ask, is that the worst? Is that the bridge? Is that the chorus? And I would put in all these markers, I would take the time to do that once and then I would never have to ask again.

[00:39:56] Malcom: There you go. Exactly. It's uh, yeah, it's worth [00:40:00] doing, just trust us on that 

[00:40:01] Benedikt: one. Yeah, totally. And then the other one, um, is view options. I think I had a different understanding of it. Um, Compared to what you thought? Like, what do you mean when you, when you save you options? I mean, 

[00:40:15] Malcom: all I would really say is take the time to look into the different layout options in your door and see what works for you.

I'm pretty default. I like seeing the wave form that pops up naturally in pro tools. I actually, I try and get everything onto my edit window rather than the mixed window. I, I almost don't use the mixed window. Um, so it's like, I can see all my inserts and sens and the editing stuff on the same screen.

I've got a big, giant computer screen in front of me. So it works well for me. Other people like it where they've got both visible on two different monitors. Um, I know my buddy Lucas likes it so that he can see all of his automation stuff, um, where I keep mine hidden behind the wave form and only pull it up as I need to see it.

He has the option enabled where all of the different automation parameters are shown on their own track [00:41:00] underneath the track they're attached to, um, which is a totally different visual workflow. Um, and you know, he doesn't have to use key commands. I used to do the same thing because it's just there, but he has to scroll more.

There's a trade-off right. Um, so just experiment and see what works for you and develop a work. 

[00:41:18] Benedikt: Totally like, um, yeah, it makes little sense with the automations. How do you approach, like where do you put your groups or master faders or whatever you call it? Because I used to have, like, like I said, I have a Kik master and a snare master, which is just my way of calling the group that all the mikes go to.

Um, so my, my kick master fader, my Kik group and my snail group and all these things. They would live at the bottom of the session in one folder where all the buses used to live. That's how I did it for. Yeah, for years, basically I have my individual tracks at the top of the session and then all the buses below in a certain order.

And at some point I changed because I didn't want to scroll all the time. What you just said. [00:42:00] I wanted my cake master below my cake mix and then my snare master below this now mikes. And then like, yeah, the whole session is set up like that now. And it's, to me it's more convenient because if I want to change something about the cake, I have all my individual mix and I have the.

The next to each other and I can, um, open up a plugin or do whatever I want and just change the kick sound. On the other hand, I really liked the layout of all the groups next to each other, because that I used that because I had a 16 fader controller that I don't have anymore. And I sort of put that those groups onto those 16 faders, like.

It's similar to what people do when they send out their, all their, their digital tracks to 16 channels, summing mixer or something, they just sum it together so that it's collapsed to 16 tracks or whatever. And I would have that sort of layout on my controller. And I kind of liked the simplicity of looking at a session where there's one, kick, one, snare, a fader for the Toms, a fader for the symbols.

And then, you know, Like [00:43:00] that. Um, but since I don't use that controller anymore, I just switched it over and now my, my groups are right below the tracks they belong to. 

[00:43:10] Malcom: Right. Yeah. Yeah. I always. Cascade things. So if there's a kick bus, it's right on top of my kick tracks and it's a again, folder tracks are allowed to be buses as well now, so that it's always a folder tracking collapsed.

So I can't even see the kick tracks. I just see though the kick, uh, folder essentially. And so I might have a kick snare. And Tom bus in there and then the rest of the drum tracks or something like that. And above that, they're in a drum folder bus as well, which I can collapse. And so it's just like always cascades downwards like that.


[00:43:45] Benedikt: Awesome. Um, but that 

[00:43:46] Malcom: said, I do have, they all have their own stem track that they go to after that. Um, and those all live beside each other. So I do have like this little kind of stem mastering stage at the very end of 


[00:43:58] Benedikt: Okay, cool. Yeah, I [00:44:00] have, I don't have the same thing, the same similar stem, uh, setup.

Uh, cool. And now we've talked about that before we started recording this episode, there is something in Cubase called workspaces. That's really, really useful where you can, and I don't know about other dogs. I can only speak about pro tools. I think logic has something like that as well. If I remember correctly, but what it, what it does is you can have a certain.

Window layout, whatever your screen looks like at any moment, like you can open certain plugins. You can zoom in as much as you want. You can make the mixer visible or the editing window, whatever you want. And the layout you're looking at, you can save that as a workspace and then you can change the layout and make other plugins visible, or other tracks and change the Sioux or whatever, and save that as a different workspace.

And now with, at the, like, just by pushing a single button, you can switch between. Workspaces. And that is really useful for me. For example, I have one workspace where on my wide screen, uh, where I have the [00:45:00] edit window and the mixed window next to each other, whereas. And that's sort of my basic initial rough makes gain staging sort of workspace, where I want to see all the tracks, but I also want to see the faders and I want to be able to make a quick rough balance just quickly.

And it also, I think, shows me the view meter on my mix bus and it shows me my final limiters. So I get like the sort of gain staging. Right. Um, it also shows me the first plug-in on my, on my buses. I think. So I hit those rides. Um, and that is my initial, like rough mix gain, staging view. And then I can switch it over to editing and all of a sudden the mixed window when all those plugins are gone and I have just my full, um, editing window and it's assumed in a little bit, and I can see all the audio files and stuff like that.

Or. I don't know if I want to work on the mix bus. It just shows me the mixed bus and it immediately opens all the plug-ins on the mixed bus. So I have different workspaces like that. And I also have those on the stream deck app on my iPad, on my iPad is next to me. And I have those [00:46:00] buttons on the iPad and that just hit mixed bus.

And then all the mixed bus plugins open, or I hit edit, and then it switches to the editing view. So those workspaces are so as such a workflow enhancer, um, 

[00:46:13] Malcom: Yeah, cool. That's pretty, pretty rad. Um, I got to experiment more with the workspace thing, cause I believe ProTools does have that. I just haven't haven't implemented it when they totally should.

I think that sounds really, really rad. Um, one more tip I had that just came to mind, uh, is something I'm totally diehard about that most people don't actually do, but in like. All of my groups. I rename things to have the first letter of what they are at the beginning of all of them. So all of my drum tracks have a big capital D underscore before they say snare.

Um, and that is cool for just again, glancing at my session. I know where I am, the colors help with that too. Um, but. Uh, also, oh yeah. Actually we, you know, we totally skipped over how they're laid out. Like, so what's at the top of [00:47:00] the session versus the bottom. That's always the same, everyone. Like that's that should always be the same.

It should be whatever you want it. Like for me, it's keys, bass drums. Um, and then guitars and vocals. Yep. I know, I know that.

I know your drums at the top. I'm sure 

[00:47:21] Benedikt: I would've said okay. If you had said, um, vocals are at the top, I'd be like, okay. Yeah. That some people do that, but keys and then bass and then drums is like, okay, 

[00:47:31] Malcom: here's this, there's a reason. It's because keys and bass are always tiny. So I can still see all my drums, even with them at the top.

And by bass being at the top, it's right above my kick drum. And I, that alignment is important to me. So that, that works out perfectly for me. That's 

[00:47:47] Benedikt: why that is actually, oh, let me think about that. Maybe I've tried that very, very good idea actually, because that's something that annoys me when I want to check, um, the timing or I want to tweak the [00:48:00] edits a little bit or something.

I always have to move my base straight up next to the kick and then move it back down. And that is a tiny annoyance that I. Totally. You could skip 

[00:48:10] Malcom: welcome to the life you were now woke. 

[00:48:14] Benedikt: I'd never thought of it and that's clever. Yeah. Uh, 

[00:48:18] Malcom: but, okay, so back to the letters on the beginning of everything, it's handy for just looking at your session, but, um, at least in pro tools, when I want to make a send or route an output to something or whatever, instead of looking at this giant list of bus 1, 2, 3, or four, or like all these like snare kick, whatever.

It's all aligned in the same order as the session as we just talked about, but with these giant letters, so I can just be like, there's drums, there's snare. There we go. Side chain set kind of thing. Um, and it, it honestly saves a lot of time looking around. Um, of course there's also a search function where you can just type in what you're looking for, but sometimes I don't know, it's just a subtle thing that seems to save me time.

[00:48:56] Benedikt: Yeah. That's, that's awesome. That's very, very awesome. Uh, [00:49:00] do you number the tracks as well? Like in front of the D or whatever, is there a number 

[00:49:04] Malcom: also? I don't know. I just do the groups. Um, and, and then, I mean, that works on the export as well, because they're all grouped together. All my drum tracks are going to alphabetically line up that way.

They might not be in the same order from top to bottom as what I had, but that's not really important to me. 

[00:49:20] Benedikt: Oh yeah. That's. Great. Um, yeah, I think that's plenty to think about, and I'm sure you will, like everyone listening, you will develop your own system of doing that because as you see, like, as you've heard, we've done, we have different systems we've developed.

Things that we like. And, um, so, so will you, I think, and we all started pretty unorganized, I think. And then over, over time, um, we got more and more structured and, but I think you can save yourself some time by, by doing it right from the start. Um, you don't have to. Yeah, you don't have to be lazy for five years and then start [00:50:00] taking 

[00:50:02] Malcom: anything that saves time.

The sooner you start it, the more you save, right. It's uh, it's getting now and reap the benefits. You'll get ahead because of this. Um, it's more time to be focusing on developing your actual audio skills rather than your organization skills. So totally jump on it. Um, if you're listening and you're interested.

It would be really easy for me to make a screen capture of going through my session organization. Um, so if you would like that go to our Facebook group, the self recording band community, and posting there that you would like to see that and I'll make it happen. 

[00:50:33] Benedikt: Oh, that is very awesome. Please take my, come up on that because I'd love to see that as well.

Um, and I know I did that at some point. I think I did three videos on my template, but it was like two years ago or so, but it's not the current one anymore, but I remember that people appreciated that. So if you could do a current version of yours, that would be really awesome. Awesome. So you can see the monster, um, thank you for that offer.

And, uh, by the way, this community that Michael [00:51:00] was talking about, we've had a lot of people join us lately. So I don't know. Uh, it's growing. Uh, it's a very cool community. So please join that. Go to the self recording band.com/community. And we will take you straight to the Facebook group or just search for the self-reporting band, a community on Facebook.

Join us there. Um, by the way, we, the, the Facebook one over discord, because we did a little poll, um, and Facebook one. So we're going to stay on Facebook for now. Um, Join us there. Take my, come up on the offer, please. I want to see the layout. And, um, I think the main takeaways, what you just said, not come it's just the sooner you start with that, the more time you'll save.

And I know the feeling where you, like, I don't want to spend that time now. I got more important stuff to do. I have to work on the song or whatever. So you skip the organization and structuring part, but honestly that's just. Yeah, that that just doesn't work. It's uh, um, yeah, it, it, the proper [00:52:00] ways you invest some time now, and it might be annoying, but you're going to save so much time, um, from that moment on and yeah, the earlier you do it, the more time you'll save and just see it as an investment that.

Yeah. So you get more time back for investing a little time 

[00:52:17] Malcom: upfront. Also stop you from losing your files or somebody else's files and having to start all over and have a big defeat, which is much worse. 

[00:52:26] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. So maybe a little action step, if you can do it and you're not in a rush and don't have a hard deadline, just stop, whatever you're working on.

Improve your session, layout your, um, workflow, your like, whatever you do with your, until to the point where you think you're happy and faster. Now you don't have to do it perfectly, but just implement some of the things we talked about. Um, stop right now, do that. And then, and only continue after that. And then you'll immediately be able to enjoy, uh, all the time.

You just you'll get back. So. Awesome. [00:53:00] Thank you for listening or watching. If you're watching on YouTube or our community where we stream this, I hope the stream works and out. See you all. We'll see you next week. Yeah. Thank you. .

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