It’s a crux point of modern life that we’re all time poor. Splitting time between work, study, traffic, relationships, family — whatever it is, our own personal hobbies and aspirations can often take a back seat. If you’re finding it difficult to find the time to make music, despite all your grand intentions, the biggest piece of advice I can offer you is to spend some time making spontaneous creativity as easy as possible to channel by knocking out all the roadblocks possible in your home setup.
What this looks like for you depends on you and your intentions, but here’s one thing that remains constant regardless of instruments and genre — a dedicated space that’s permanently setup and ready to jam/record in with minimum fuss. Think about your current space (if you have one) and where the road blocks are. You want to be able to just sit down (or stand) and go. No plugging things in. No setting stands up. No trying to find a power board. No frustration over running out of USB ports. If you’ve got 20min spare before dinner, you want to be able to spend 19 of those making some music.
Obviously all that stuff mentioned needs time to be sorted out, and often requires some investment of money. But guys. Trust me. Make. The. Time. Future you will love you. Stupid stuff like running out of power outlets and USB ports is so easy to resolve but such a drainer when you’re just hoping for a quick and easy session.
This can come back to software too, and lets be real, nothing saps inspiration like sorting out your perfect software configuration or DAW templates. But it’s worth it. Just get it done. Ableton Live allows you to setup default projects, meaning you can have your favourite instruments and external audio inputs loaded at startup. This is an incredibly valuable workflow streamliner.
Pull a sicky from work and make a day of sorting out your space if you have to (I take no responsibility for any repercussions). Start the morning deciding how you’d like your space setup. Figure out what you’re missing to get your workflow right (any cables, stands, USB hubs etc.) then go get ‘em.
It may be that you decide you need a mixer or bigger audio interface so you can have all your fun synths plugged in at once, but you don’t have the money right now. Make saving to get that mixer your #1 priority for whatever disposable income you can muster. Hell, sell one of those synths to get it, I know interfaces/mixers are boring but there’s no point in having the synths if you can’t provide yourself a space to use them with ease.
Let’s talk small spaces and budget setups. It’d be cool if we could all live in lovely big houses with an entire room to dedicate to our musical musings, but that’s hardly a reality for most of us. My first setup was a crappy IKEA corner desk and some milk crates in the lounge room of our shoe box apartment. It wasn’t pretty. In fact it was dubbed ‘the ugly corner’. But it worked. I made 2 EPs in that dingy corner on an old Korg Electribe.
Budget is of course a limiting factor too, but in reality, there’s never been a better time to make music on a small budget. Are you reading this on a smart phone right now? Yeah that’s a recording computer in your hand. Your permanent space could be a phone dock with a second-hand iOS/Android compatible audio interface plugged in and ready to go, a cheap Korg Nano MIDI controller, a tabletop mic and some headphones.
Investing the time and money to push the roadblocks out will make you more productive, and likely even positively affect your mental health. Being creative gives your brain a big ol’ dopamine hit, making you happier and more motivated — so it’s on you to start the chain reaction, make it as easy to as possible!