Admit it, there are a ton of things that scream "not fun" when creating music. You know what I'm talking about, right? The tedious stuff that makes you want to rip your hair out.
Setup this insert, or name this track, or move this track around, or copy this clip, etc. The list goes on and on. Truthfully, this is the housekeeping stuff that seamlessly sneaks up on us and ruins our workflow and creativity state. These small tasks, which by the way, cumulate to an EXTRAORDINARY amount of time in the long run, hinder creativity and take us out of the creative mindset if they accumulate quickly. This puts us in a "technical" mindset, rather than a "creative" mindset, and trust me, nothing can be worse than losing that inspiration or that idea by trying to open up an app or by doing a bit of housekeeping.
Luckily for us creatives, we don't have to suffer as much as we once thought! Introducing: Automation.
Automation is simple, really. It's automating specific processes or tasks which happen "automatically" according to whatever trigger you tell the automation to occur or activate at a specific time or instance.
You might be thinking, "okay, cool! So, is it hard to do?" Well, yes and no. You can go down a tremendous rabbit-hole of automation creation. The longer and more in-depth the tasks, the harder these automation processes can become. However, if you know nothing about coding like myself, there are some tools to help us along our time-saving journey.
To be completely honest, I'm brand new to Keyboard Maestro. However, I already have several automated tasks setup to help me along! There is a slight learning curve to creating automations with the different functionalities this app contains, however, it's weirdly... satisfying? In fact, it's honestly being creative just in the sense of automation. So, if you like being creative in all different areas of life, this will satisfy that creative itch in you just as much as music, photography, etc. would.
One of my favorite automations I've created is automatically transferring my Waves' plugin licenses once I unmount my traveling SSD hard drive. I work on both a stationary and mobile setup, so it's extremely important that I have my licenses with me 24/7 or I miss out on half of my go-to tools which hinders my workflow to a certain-extent.
Knowing my forgetful ass, I'll forget to transfer the licenses before I leave the studio and end up remembering half-way home (which is an hour+ away from the studio!).
So, I told Keyboard Maestro that when I unmount my specific hard drive, to open up Waves Central, deactivate my plugins to the cloud, then close up the software. Now, I never forget my licenses! I even wrote an automation that triggers an OSX notification at 5pm every day, reminding me to transfer my licenses too. And if that wasn't enough, I also have one that texts me reminding me to do so too. Overkill? Probably.
Of course, you can do SO much more with this software, especially for tasks outside of music production. And fortunately, there's also a fantastic community surrounding this software where you can ask anyone for help, and you're more than likely have multiple people helping you!
There's a 30-day free trial, so why not give it a shot?!
I'm also new to Soundflow, but man, has it been incredibly helpful already!
Soundflow is an app that is entirely dedicated to audio production and software alike. The main DAW that it has scripts for is Pro Tools, but there's an ever-growing community marketplace that is implementing more for other DAWs as well. In fact, the community is massive! Even better yet, the community features audio professionals, like Andrew Scheps, who contribute to these scripts and automations as well!
One of my favorite automations comes from Teezio called, "Teezio's Plugin Loader." Basically, the automation loads your selected plugin from a command into your insert slot on the selected track. For this automation, I found it best to pair this with the Elgato Stream Deck app (soon to be physical unit for myself!), and hit the button on my phone to trigger the plugin I need!
This is a BIG timesaver so you don't have to go menu diving through your library of plugins if you know what you need to pull up. I had my good-friend, Kris, time me going through my plugins vs. using the automation. It took my 5.5 seconds to load the plugin from start to finish, whereas it took the command automation 2 seconds to do the same task.
While that doesn't look like a huge win in the short-run, it'll be a massive timesaver long-term. And, that's really the goal of automation too. A lot of this might seem nitty-gritty, but in reality, it'll save soooo much time within a project.
Soundflow has so much. more than I've even began to dive into, so I'll be sure to post any cool things I discover or find indispensable later!
SoundFlow is a subscription-based app, starting at $5 a month. However, you can try the software for 30 days for free!
Certainly, I've only skimmed a complex topic in this post, but as I become more familiar with these tools, you can be assured I'll be back with some cool tips or workflows!
Music production takes a lot of time, so why not save some by having the computer do the work for you? After all, they're meant to make our lives a bit easier, right?!
If you have any cool tips or tricks for any automations/automation software you use, please let us know by leaving a comment or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We'd love to learn more about your automation journey... and maybe copy off of you too! ;)
Follow us on social media!
If you're looking to start a new podcast, be sure to check out the Studio 222 Recording Podcast where we sometimes talk in detail about these specific blog posts, popular topics and questions in audio production, philosophical audio production themes, and more!