80/20 Your Music Production

For those not familiar with 80/20 principles, welcome to the principles that will give you your life back. I mean that quite literally.

The principle was suggested by management thinker Joseph M. Juran. It was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population. The assumption is that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes.

The concept of 80/20 has been around for a long time & we seem to be finding it’s algorithm in pretty much everything that can be measured.  It works in both macrocosms and microcosms (I know Tom Cosm fans will have a giggle here. If not, tell him Jason Timothy sent you)  🙂

In the grand scheme of things, 80% of everything you are doing right now is only getting you about 20% of the results. These are tasks that should be discarded to focus on the 2nd half of the rule. 20% of the things you are now doing are giving you 80% of your results. These are the things you want to do more of.

Let’s look at some things in your life where 80/20 has a big effect.

* 20% of the things you eat give you 80% of the benefits
* 20% of your exercise routine gives you 80% of your results
* 20% of your workday creates 80% of your productivity

Get the idea?

So how can we take this kind of knowledge & apply it to music making?

I thought you’d never ask 🙂

So let’s look at some things that might be holding you back from being a more productive artist.


Not enough time

This is a huge obstacle for many many aspiring producers & it has stops many very talented people from even getting to the starting line with their music career. Let’s use the 80/20 principle & see if we can free up a large % of your time.

Let’s look at some time sucks that might be taking you away from making music. Remember, 80% of what you are doing is only attributing to 20% of the things you are getting done.

These things might fit in that category:

* Checking email or Social media more than a couple times a day.
* Phone calls that could be 80% shorter & still give you the same results
* Errands you might be running everyday that you might be able to accomplish in 1 well planned trip per week
* Taking your least productive hour of the day (usually the last hour before you go to sleep) & adding that hour in the morning by getting up an hour earlier. This will give you a highly productive time before your day gets crazy (Thanks to Mike Monday for this one)
* Needless time spent stressed & worried over a future that will likely never happen
* How much of the TV you watch each week is largely garbage that does nothing to improve your life?

Are you getting the picture here? 80/20 your time sucks & watch how magically time for music production opens up for you.


Music Production overwhelm

How much time do you spend trying to learn everything about making music while doing nothing with that knowledge?

It’s like you had a tornado hit your creative brain & now you have all these tiny fragments of information, to do lists, tips, tricks & widely opposing opinions, so disorganized that you have zero idea where to start.

The truth is, (probably more than)80% of the crap you’ve filled your head with is just an addiction to consuming information. It’s really just procrastination disguised as productivity. If you aren’t going to put the information you are watching to use in the next 10 minutes, it’s useless & a waste of your time and creative energy.

Between these scenarios, which do you think will give you 80% of your best results? 1 or 2?
1. Listening to 20 different people all telling you 20 different versions of the “right” way to get something done.
2. Trusting your own instincts & making a decision on your own, always evaluating & improving upon your own approach & only going outside yourself briefly to keep perspective.


1. Spending a week in forums trying to find out what the best possible synth or plugin to use. Buying & downloading all 50 of them & then searching tutorials to learn each one (just in case one synth might be ever slightly better at 1 or 2 things).
2. Giving yourself 1 hour to see what synths are out there, reading the “cliff notes” that matter to you & choosing 1 to learn in depth.


When starting a new song…..

1. Going through every synth, preset & sample until you find the drum sounds you are happy with, the right bass sound & all the additional elements.
2. Spending a day or 2 putting together a “go to” list of 10 or less sounds for each section that gives you quick access to sounds you already know you like.


If you’ve been choosing option 1 throughout your music production journey, welcome back to having a life!

Your turn

This is just the tip of a very large 80/20 iceberg (although 80% of that undiscovered iceberg probably isn’t going to serve you any purpose). I challenge you to find other areas in your life that you can free up more of your mental energy for music making. Leave a comment below & let’s discuss this further.

If you want to dive deeper into 80/20, I highly recommend  this book by Perry Marshall (not an affiliate link). It takes a look at things from more of a business perspective, but is pretty easy to apply to almost anything. 

happy music making,


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