The Music Oven

PinnaclesIt all depends on the musician/producer but some of us create too much material. For a long time, every time I sat down at my DAW tinkering, I saved the results — just in case they would get better later. Well, in 999 of 1000 cases that won’t happen.

I noticed that today when going through my project folder with material to see if I could fix or reintroduce any of that material, just now going back to 2007, the rest is stuffed in archives.

Shortly, I have a very simple directory structure for projects:

  • Attic — anything that is good to have but just needs to be stuffed aside resides in there
  • Work in Progress — This is where the work is happening
  • Released — Released material
  • Private — all kinds of private material I need all the time but will never release it.

So the Work In Progress folder started to get really full. I always prefix the projects with a running number as well, so I could follow the always increasing number of projects, sigh. Some of the material was just very much outdated, too. I’m in the middle of cleaning this all — and got an idea I will test out starting now.

There will be a new folder called “The Oven.” What this oven is that every time I start working on something new, it will start in the oven. If it does not work out well, the cake is badly cooked, I just salvage the little I can from it, AppleLoops and so forth. Then I just throw away the uncooked product. If it makes sense and it is baking well, I move it into the Work in Progress folder.

I think this will somewhat eliminate the huge amount of wanna-be products that should not even be saved as they don’t make sense.

Does any of you have similar schemes concerning avoiding drowning in half-made projects that most likely will never be finished? Any other ideas?


  1. Btw, I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now… it’s great!

    I have three folders that make up my structure:

    “Current” : Holds all current work in progress. This includes any DAW tinkering that may eventually die off as well as projects that are moving along.

    “Complete” : Holds all project folders that are completely done. They have not been normalized or mastered but the settings to do so have been saved.

    “Releases” : Holds AIFF (16bit/48k) and MP3 (Id3 tagged, 320k/44k) normalized and mastered bounces of completed tracks.

    Every project in those folders are named “Month Date Year – Project Name” If the project name changes in the middle of the project, then I’ll change the folder name. I use the date the way you use a sequential project number because I can more easily remember when I started a project than a sequential number. It also helps me keep track of how long the project has been around. I try not to leave projects go that long.

    There’s also a folder called “Old Projects” and at some point once a year (it could be in the middle of the year when I have a cleaning fit), I’ll move everything except “Releases” in there regardless of whether it’s just a dead tinker or completed work.

    Everything is backed up to an external drive using an RSYNC script I wrote at the end of a day when I feel I’ve made progress with something.

    My only issue is when I switched from Logic to ProTools. Now half the projects are Logic and the other half are ProTools. Since reinstalling the OS and only re installing the plugs I most commonly used, I know some of the projects will not open correctly.

  2. Opening up old projects is indeed a pain. Even if I know Ableton Live and Logic tries to maintain backwards compatibility, if I have a chance I try to open and save them back in. Not to speak of old plug-ins that no longer works, ack. That’s a pain, too. This is where Logic’s freeze is nice but who remembers to freeze all tracks, or sit there and wait to get them frozen…

  3. when im ‘cooking’ a new song i just name it “thing1″ (and the one after “thing2″ then “thing3″ and so forth). If the song is completed it will eventually get a name, but i will always remember its original name (thing1).

    I used the same system when I had a band, every time we started an instrumental song, it was hard to put it a name as it had no lyrics. So we just named them song1, song2, and so on.. At the end even if in the cd they had a ‘real’ name, for us they were and will always be song1, song2, song3, song4, and song5.

    Luckily I have a very good memory, but if the folders start to pile up I will eventually divide everything in “The Things”, and a separate folder for songs recorded with different friends/artists “Dante”, “Mayra”, etc.
    And keep the rest in the root folder :D

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