How to Use Evernote to Produce Records

The software I use everyday for nearly everything in my life is Evernote. To try and explain what it is… it’s like you’re carrying around a bag and anything you want to remember later or any piece of information you think will be useful you toss in the bag. The moment that got me hooked was when I wondered: …Hey, do I have anything on how they mixed that Amy Winehouse album?“ So I type Winehouse into Evernote and it brings up a photo I took of a magazine article about mixing Amy Winehouse. I had taken the photo on a cell phone and saved it into the Evernote App and since Evernote can scan photographs for words it’s showing me this photo I took with the word Winehouse in the magazine article.image
After I made some complicated Dr. Dog mixes I took photos of the mixing console and the pieces of analog gear I was using. I had put little pieces of tape on the gear with the song name written on them. A week later the band wanted to make some mix changes. When you’re mixing music on a big console like this and you want to make a change to the mix a week later you need to set all the knobs on all the equipment back to just the same place as they’d been. So when I needed to recall the mix and set the gear up just as I’d had it I typed the song name “Station” into Evernote and it brought up the photos of the gear since Evernote read my handwritten name of the song. Then I could just match the gear to the photo.

That’s the example I always use to show musicians what this can do. Are you a member of BMI and want to remember every set list to submit to them to get paid for when you play your own songs live? Take a photo of the set list. Evernote will scan the words and geotag where & when you took the photo. You can then type in the name of your song and up pops the set list. Or, look on the Evernote map for the club you played and it’ll show you the notes you created there.

You can write your song lyrics in Evernote and they’re saved with revisions as you alter them. You can always get back to previous version and you know they’re stored safely. Evernote accepts audio notes and you can record directly into a note. Type in your lyrics and hum in the melody idea to save a complete idea. I tag these …song idea“ then when I have downtime in the studio and can work on something new I search for the …song idea“ tag and see what ideas I’d put together.

You can use this to sort samples, too. I have a Samples notebook and I drop in the samples I’ve put together that I may need for a production no matter where I’m traveling. I just Tag them by instrument: kick, snare, toms, hits, midi grooves, sound effects… then instead of making sure they’re on a thumb drive or firewire drive I can just open Evernote or login online and get access to all of them. For me this beats the old way of carrying a firewire drive everywhere.

I make notes for artists and bands I’m working with to remember things they like and don’t like. If a drummer mentions she doesn’t like a ringing snare I can make a note with her name on it and write that down. For our next session I’ll remember to grab a snare drum she likes. If a singer is aware of their vocal range I’ll write that down so when I’m working up a song for them I can look in their note and make sure it’s in a key that works well for their voice. I’ll write down how they like to record: some people like using a handheld mic and blasting the track thru the speakers. image
Some people like singing in a quiet room with the lights off. This is all good to remember so we setup they studio how they like to work. For my recording studio I might even write down the kind of coffee or beer an artist likes so we have the next time they come by to record.

All the manuals for my equipment and software go into Evernote. When some gear isn’t working I search Evernote first and it brings me to the page in the manual with some answers. I frequently clip any great Ableton Live tutorials or tips & tricks people share on the web. All my production contracts get signed and saved directly into Evernote. Every receipt I’m emailed is automatically forwarded to Evernote from Gmail and tagged Receipt. I set that up nice and it always works. Now if I’m getting any new apps I check first to see if they’ll sync with Evernote. When we make whiteboards with song arrangements I take a photo into Evernote and then we don’t lose that arrangement idea. Feel free to use the whiteboard chart below to make hits…

Those are some way I use it to make my living. Besides that, I use it for everything: research for my daughter’s education, recipes, birthday gift ideas, interesting web articles go in thru the safari clipper, photos of good wine bottles, photos of receipts, photos of those little cards with serial numbers that come with equipment…

I am unashamed geek for Evernote. I bought the t-shirt. I even bought the sticker pack. I searched for Andrew Sinkov at SXSW but I only got to talk with Jack White. Damn.

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