I know more than my fair share of music producers who are the eclectic and eccentric type, and I will be the first to admit that I count myself as one of them. There’s something a bit Romantic about a studio desk covered in scattered synths and production paraphernalia as you frantically throw ideas at your DAW until something sticks.
But is having a method to the madness worth the mess?
Taking a step back and talking to the experts, music producers can quickly find that having a well-organized space and a clean studio in which to produce is the secret sauce to tapping into your higher levels of creativity and streamlining your workflow (upping the quantity and the quality of your creative output).
And to dive into this concept a little more, we invited the creative team at Hexcal, makers of the professional-grade desktop mount and studio workstation tool that is taking the tech world by storm, to come on and chat about the benefits of having a clean and organized space can bring to your creative life and artistic career as a producer.
Before we dive into the interview, check out Hexcal’s website to learn more about their innovative and forward-thinking workstation.
Why is having an organized music studio important?
To answer that, I think we need to look into music production itself. When I work, I need to be highly concentrated on creation yet focused on the details simultaneously. It is hard to capture ideas because ideas flash and fade in seconds. Therefore, actions must be taken immediately when a thought occurs, and this mindset must be maintained throughout the creation process.
As we all know, music production nowadays is both creative and technical. The production requires a lot of professional devices, such as sound cards, recording devices, pedals, controllers, speakers, headphones, etc… On the one hand, the devices help to orchestrate ideas, but on the other, they create distractions throughout the entire work process. So, ideally, nothing should interrupt or impede me when pursuing the butterflies in my mind in those critical and fleeting seconds.
That’s why having an organized music studio is crucial to avoid those physical or visual distractions and interruptions. Organizing the devices, tools, and gears, integrating them into their workflow, and arranging them within arm’s reach creates a dedicated work environment where I can focus on the music-composing work.
How do you think clutter affects creativity?
Clutter can be the most significant source of distraction at music studios and, therefore, negatively influences the producer’s workflow. Still, in many cases, the clutter issue is often neglected by musicians.
Psychologically, it is a visual distraction that creates unrelated signals in our brains. The brain automatically generates associations based on our surroundings, whether you want it to or not, similar to how ambient sounds could affect one’s creativity and work quality. So, the visual distractions – the clutter – could essentially hinder the work performance of music creators. Also, because it is a universal issue that has existed in the industry for a long time, sometimes people compromise on the situation, especially when facing an urgent deadline for any music work. However, this clutter may be the very reason a goal is missed.
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Regarding each musician’s workflow, it could be challenging for anyone to adjust the devices according to their creations because of the number and complexity of devices and the frequent need to rotate between instruments and tasks. In other words, the clutter makes optimizing workflow difficult, affecting how fast and consistently work can be done in the long run. All of the above is often reflected in the output, the progress, along with one’s growth, self-development, and so forth.
Imagine two musicians both with a day to produce a musical piece. Musician A has a messy workspace, which requires excessive time to access and change devices. Expensive devices can take minutes, even hours, to find and even be lost. Furthermore, the workspace exudes anxiety and stress. Musician B has a neatly organized and easily accessible workspace that requires little time to rotate devices and tasks and exudes a feeling of serenity and composure.
Which musician do you think will produce a more solid work by the end of the day?
Now multiply that day by 365 and 40 years over a musician’s career. The time saved and stress reduced is immense. This line of thought drives home the importance of organization in my studio.
What are the dangers of having a messy music studio?
A messy music studio means putting your valuable instruments and equipment in danger. You cannot imagine how things might go wrong by tripping in the studio. It could trigger a massive disaster in the whole space, causing the instruments and equipment to fall and possibly break. More importantly, you might hurt yourself too.
From my personal experience, as an amateur guitarist, I handle everything with only one hand since my left hand is always grabbing the neck of my guitar, changing tones, and playing music. If I don’t pay attention, it is easier for me to make mistakes, damage my priceless instruments, and misconnect things. Accidentally turning the power off or failing to record a piece due to an incorrect connection could lead to a mental crisis, especially if my work has not been saved during a creative session. Losing your data and resetting equipment would directly destroy the work and flow.
Why is it so hard to keep a music studio organized?
There is a lot of different equipment in a music studio that all come with varying types of interface. Organizing and incorporating them into one’s workflow and workspace is difficult, even for experienced music workers. Through time, it is important to continuously optimize the workflow and music studio according to different types of creation and one’s evolving habits. However, the whole setup, once implemented, is difficult to change and adjust.
For starters, cable and equipment arrangements are among the most significant issues for every producer and music creator. People have to route them in order, connect them with the correct topology, and wire them with different cords (generally big cords), all of which take significant effort and quickly get distorted over time.
I would say the overall complexity level to set up a music studio is significantly higher than general computer setups. It’s more like renovating a new house but around your desk and workspace.
Hexcal Studio is not only a favorite but a must for me. My team and I created this product with these specific struggles in mind. We designed it to address the challenge of desktop setups, no matter how many inputs the user has or how cumbersome their devices are. I would say it’s the only heavy equipment desktop management solution on the market. Excluding it from my music studio would be like driving a car without seats.
Check out Hexcal’s website to snag your studio workstation today.
I also recommend digitally driven, comprehensive effect pedals – like the AX series Amp Modeler from Fractal Audio Systems – rather than classic pedal arrangements. It may not have the most original sound, but it saves tons of space when connected to a computer.
WL-20 Digital Wireless Guitar System
I prefer using a wireless transceiver – like the WL-20 Digital Wireless Guitar System from Boss – instead of cords. It delivers a lot of conveniences. Endless wire dragging and potential collateral damage can be avoided by connecting the instrument wirelessly.