How to finish songs faster

How to finish songs faster

In this article and video I will explain my process on how to finish songs faster as a music producer. My songwriting process is by no means the only way, but I’ve found this process helps speed up the songwriting. I hope my songwriting tips will enhance your creative confidence. This process to finish songs faster can ultimately help prevent writers block! Give it a try!

Strategy to finish songs faster

How much time do you spend making a track?

First I would like to ask how much time you spend on average making a track? 45 minutes? Two weeks…. a month?

There are many ways to write and produce songs. And you might have another method that works best for you. But this is the method I use when I have deadlines and know I need to produce quality songs on time.

And for me this songwriting process definitely works!

Yeah, here I am drafting a melody for a game soundtrack.

How can we finish songs faster?

Producing songs can be really painful. With all the distractions (read: plugins, apps, DAWs, sample libraries) it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and ultimately lost in the process. It’s like art, if you begin with the details you loose track of the big picture.

That’s why painters always makes sketches and block in key components before going into the refined details. A professional painter have a very clear process to work out the final art piece.

Below is me blocking in the major parts of an elephant painting (drafting). Then to the right we have the detail painting (production).

The three step process to finishing songs faster

First I divide my songwriting process into three distinct steps:

  1. Focus
  2. Drafting
  3. Production

Before we get going with the actual songwriting we need to find our focus to be able to channel our inspiration. This is not some “mumbojumbo” spirtual deep-dive, but I think it’s important to really think about your whole workflow & process to be able to find out what works for you.

Focus, and prepare for the songwriting process

Focus and prepare for the songwriting process
Focus, prepare yourself and set away time for the songwriting process.

This step is important to get our focus on the right path. To help us understand we need to set aside a specific amount of time to focus on one single part – the song idea, or motif / theme if you will. Put aside all the distractions of the DAW, computer and phone.

This whole process doesn’t work if we have our focus split. 

Writing a song is about coming up with rhythm and melody. At this stage it’s not about browsing presets, finding sounds / instruments or arranging.

If we try to do too much at the same time, one area will probably suffer. Your song will suffer.

Trust me, if you focus on one single part of the process, the rest will be so much easier. You will have a stronger foundation to work with. In the focus phase we prepare ourselves before starting to draft ideas.

To start the drafting we set our laser sight focus on the core of your song, which essentially is rhythm and melody!

Drafting, the rhythm and melody of your song.

Drafting - How to finish songs faster
Drafting…on the piano. 😋

With the focus and determination in place, we can now get started creating a rough song draft.

The reason we are doing a song draft is to get a strong foundation for our song.

If your song works and sounds good as a draft, you can be confident it will work when it’s arranged and fully produced later in the production phase.

Pick up the instrument you feel most comfortable with, maybe a guitar or a piano. To me, it’s the piano. Or load up a piano patch in the DAW if you don’t have a piano around.

In the drafting phase I work with a single instrument, a guitar, or more often the piano. Because the piano is my main instrument and also the instrument I feel most confident playing. A chord instrument will also make it easy to test out harmony (and bass) with our melody.

If we put aside all distractions we can focus on the rhythm and melody rather than the sounds that we will use later in the production.

Production, expand the song draft into a full song

Production - How to finish songs faster
Production, time to arrange the song draft and make it “sing” with sounds.

We now have a solid idea from the previous drafting phase. It’s time to take the draft idea and produce it into a full song. 

The drafting process probably also gave you many ideas for how this melody can be arranged. Maybe what instruments you could try and how the rhythm section should be built.

In my demonstration project in the “How to finish songs faster” I replaced the piano melody with a guitar and since the client vision was all about sustainability I wanted to give the track a very organic feel with many real instruments and organic sounds…rather than synthetic sounds.

I made some of the percussive sounds with my mouth, like hi-hats. And also played on the body of the acoustic guitar for those woody percussive sounds. It all comes together in the production.

How to finish songs faster – process summary

In conclusion, we probably saved tons of time by excluding sound browsing in the drafting phase. We focused solely on the song idea, the melody and rhythm.

It’s much quicker to make changes on the fly when you are playing the piano than it is to make changes to a fully produced song. I know it’s possible, but it’s faster to make changes when you just have the basic outline melody to work with.

My drafting process took about 15 minutes for this track which is super quick. At the same time I also tossed up another draft for a second song. The production phase obviously took longer, about 2 days.

But it’s important to know I saved tons of time and headach by making a solid draft before going into production.

So that’s basically my workflow for making music!

You can learn more about my process in the following article & video where we create some game music cues.

When you have become an experienced songwriter

With time and more experience you can probably dive in at various stages and even do the drafting and production at the same time. But when I feel discouraged and lost with a deadline closing in, I can always rely on this three step songwriting process to finish my songs faster!

What’s your typical workflow to write songs?

Now what’s your typical workflow, how do you make your songs? Please let me know in the comments!

If you want to learn more about music production, sound design and creativity please subscribe to my newsletter!

Mattias Holmgren

Mattias Holmgren is a creative director sailing from Sweden – business owner of Morningdew Media. Visit Mattias YouTube with videos on music, creative sound design, graphics and brand development. Check out the Resources Page if you want to know what gear i use. Join my exclusive community:

You may also enjoy these articles: