The best environment for producing music comes down to preference. Whatever gets you producing the best music is the best environment.
There are common factors for productive workplaces though. It comes down to your physical environment, desk setup, and how you handle distractions.
Music producers who do this full-time emphasize their environment a lot because their environment greatly affects their creativity. Take the time to understand what sparks creativity. It’s a state of mind that’s hard to consciously be in, but once you’re in it, you know.
The recipe for entering a creative state is below. Let us know in the comments if you know of anything else that sparks creativity.
Table of Contents
- Balancing Absorption & Distortion
- Physical Environment
- Optimal Music Production Setup
The size of a room matters when it comes to acoustics. A small room means the acoustics bounce back faster than a bigger one. A bigger one means there is a higher chance of echoes. Acoustics not only affects the music, it affects productivity.
Excessive noise and unwanted noise makes it harder to concentrate. It also affects your recordings. Having to edit those unwanted sounds also makes the song creation process longer.
After figuring out the room situation, determine what your sound treatment will be like. A great part about sound treatment tools is you don’t have to sacrifice style for function, you can have both.
The first step in treating your room is to figure out what type of treatment you need. There are two studio designs: diffusers and absorbers.
Diffusers bounce the sound waves around while absorbers absorb the acoustic energy so it doesn’t bounce back into the room. Absorbers are great if your room has a lot of natural echo. If you’re in a smaller studio, diffusers help with making the room sound less dull.
For absorbers, you can either make one, or purchase one. You can make your own absorber using different materials. Or, you can build diffusing material, or purchase it. We won’t go into how to build an absorber or diffuser because that’ll go beyond the scope of this article.
For artists on a budget, you can just place a blanket over your head if you’re in a bigger room so the sound waves won’t echo. You can also record in the closet if you don’t mind. The beautiful part is you’re not limited to one option.
Using absorption or diffusion doesn’t mean you can’t use both. Balancing means applying treatment to ceilings and walls of your room.
One aspect often overlooked is flooring. Using carpets cheapens the sound in your room and makes it sound dull. Another guiding principle to keep track of while balancing both is treating your room to not have large areas of bare wall and ceiling.
Finding the right amount of absorption and diffusion depends on your room. Test the acoustics out and see what it needs. A room that dampens sound needs more diffusion. A cavernous room needs more absorption. Also, you don’t have to do both. It all depends on the room.
We wanted to give acoustics its own section due to its importance. It can be considered part of your physical environment, but there are some other factors not as important as acoustics worth talking about.
- Room temperature
Finding the right location for work is important for anybody. But, nobody talks about the temperature of your location as much. You hear entertainers say they’re moving to Los Angeles due to the network and industry. But, they also move because the weather is nice.
The same can be applied for producers. If the temp is too cold or too hot, it’s distracting. Room temperature is the best setting for keeping focus.
Sometimes you will have a creativity block. And, when this does happen, you’ll need to find a way to break out of it.
A great way to do this is by taking a walk. We can’t explain the scientific reason as to why walks are effective, but they help you clear your mind while helping you solve the problem.
Some reasons why it works without delving deep into the science is it gets the blood flowing while getting vitamin D. It also allows your mind to subconsciously work on the problem you’re having.
Take time out of your day to get a 15-30 min walk in to ignite creativity. The ROI on taking walks is high and efficient.
- Ergonomic equipment
- Have things to hold, touch, feel
After coming back from your walk, you’ll need to come back to a productive workflow setup.
A great step towards that is to have an ergonomic setup. The whole point of ergonomics is to improve human efficiency and comfortability.
The equipment you need to make sure you have this setup is your chair, keyboard, desk, and mouse. If you plan on doing long hours in the studio, these will make your job easier. They’re worth an investment because you’ll be spending most of your time there.
Another factor you should consider is the ambience. We’ve noticed music producers like low lighting when creating. Finding the right lighting environment for yourself is priceless. Whatever ambience you choose, it should increase your creativity and output.
An underrated way to “hack” creativity is to have something to fiddle with. Something like a stress ball works wonders when brainstorming. For whatever reason, having things to hold, touch, or feel helps us work. Look for something similar in your work setup.
Figuring out the best time to work is one of the biggest parts of creating the right environment. And to do that, figure out when you’re most productive and have the least distractions. For some, it can be early in the morning, or late into the night.
If you live in a place full of people then the best time might be when everybody else is sleeping.
Limiting distractions is about cutting unnecessary items out of your daily routine. This includes your phone, games, and more. Do an honest assessment of what you don’t need daily and cut it out.
The counterintuitive aspect of creativity is leaving room for serendipity.
With the internet, you can generate serendipity by creating social media accounts showcasing your talent. This is similar to the concept of leaving your door open by Richard Hamming.
In fact, creating serendipity is the result of creating the right environment and promoting yourself. Eliminating distractions while optimizing your workplace sets you up for maximum productivity. And, giving yourself the right amount of space to be seen is important to create that luck.
Creating the right environment for yourself opens you up for more opportunities than just pumping out music. It’s one of the main reasons entertainers move to LA. Having the right environment not only allows you to put in physical work, it allows you to do mental work. It allows you to work out your ideas so you can work smarter instead of harder.