Thursday, March 31, 2016

DrScythe Recording Blog - Part III: Plans and projectmanagement

As the planned release of my latest song was heavily delayed I wanted to write something about plans. And as a “Bachelor of Science E-Government” I even can add some professional stuff about project management.

Songs, albums etc. as projects

When people refer to something as a project they often want to emphasize that it’s a one-time event or not as important as the main-thing (like a ‘side-project’ of a band member or refurbishing their garden shed). There are several definitions for what a project is and it depends on what you are doing which one applies. Check out Wikipedia on this one:

Temporary, permanent, reoccurring – if you want to you can call anything a project and treat it like one. But the more objects, people and tasks are involved the easier it will be to actually finish something if you plan it properly. No matter what and how you’re going to do it: listing all the said things will already improve your workflow as you’ll try to organize everything a little bit automatically. After you’ve done that you can just go on with your regular procedure but not forget something this time. Or you can sort the tasks chronologically and use a waterfall model for this project. It also helps to connect the required resources with the tasks to make sure that the equipment or person is available.

For more modern approaches you could learn everything about SCRUM ( and apply it to whatever you’re doing…

Back to recording: in contrast to many business projects the waterfall model is still usable for your (home) studio. You record track after track, instrument after instrument, then mix, then master, done. Even the “checkup loops” can be planned on fixed points. The most critical point is to plan backwards and with a lot of “headroom”. So from your deadline to the starting point and add about 30% of the time needed. For critical elements add 50-60% or if there is enough time double it.

For most bands the drums would be the most critical element as the other members need those for their recording sessions. So the finished task ‘drum recordings’ is a requirement for the other recording sessions etc.


One flaw of this method is its lack of flexibility. If you need to insert a task or change the duration of one then the entire plan has to be changed. So if the drummer can’t do the recordings for whatever reasons and there is no one to replace him – bad luck.

Or if you’re a one-man-project doing everything yourself but your grandpa dies and you got a lot of other stuff to do you find yourself jettisoning the entire plan. I initially planned to release two songs this month and now I am happy that I can finish one. And I am way more flexible than a regular band. For example I do not depend on a drum recording – I can record all the instruments using a really dull basic drum track. But that didn’t help this time. I invested several hours of work in both tracks but due to the lack of time I had to drop one song for now and finish the other one within the short period of time. So I had to redo the plan to maximize the time and it is just on spot. If I had to visit more family members on Easter I wouldn’t have been able to finish everything.

So the next time I try something more ambitious I am going to plan it with even more headroom. There are only few reoccurring tasks in recording and mixing so there’s no help to find in the modern tools of project management – except for the knowledge of projects being doomed if not planned and executed with the most possible carefulness.

This is this month’s result:

So long

PS: tables are great for planning, especially if you use automatic coloring.
0, red, not even begun
1, dark orange, rough idea, not ready to record
2, yellow, ready to record
3, green, recorded
4, grey, bounced with FX
5, blue, do not touch again

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