Now that you've written the song, the next step is to create a detailed production plan and schedule. The production plan can be simple or complex, but whether you are recording using your laptop only, or using external gear. The plan should contain the following three elements, a tracklist chart, a toolset, and a timeline. The tracklist chart will be a list of the tracks you'll use, the track type, the recording source, and the associated gear used for recording it. Will the instruments you choose be acoustic, electric, electronic, or virtual. Will you add instrumental solos. What tools will you use when you record each track. As you work out your plan, I recommend that you review as needed, the Loud and Sterns Introduction to Music Production material on techniques for recording the types of sound sources that you'll be using. In particular the material on Audio versus Midi tracks, recording electric, electronic or acoustic sound sources. So here's a tip about audio recording quality. If your initial audio recording contains unwanted distortion, clicks and pops or other deficits, you're going to waste a ton of time trying to save it. And in the case of digital distortion due to overloading the mic or the interface or the channel strip, you probably won't be able to. So, try for a nice clean recording then you can process it lots of different ways and get a great result. Here's a brief sample track list chart. The types of production can be categorized simply as audio, midi or hybrid which means both. As you'll see in my sample track list the type of production is hybrid. You'll see the tracks listed on the left, the lead vocal for instance the type of the, of the lead vocal is an audio track. The source is acoustic and the tools needed to record it are mic and audio interface. So, your list is going to have what's on the track. It's going to have the type of track, it's going to have the source and the tools. Your song can have all midi tracts if you wish. However you will need to record at least one acoustic sound source, and that's the lead vocal. Once you've settled on a track list, you'll use it to determine the tools you'll need for the project. So, that's going to be your tool set. Your toolset is an inventory of the tools you will need to record, edit, and mix your project. A basic complete set-up, for instance, may contain the following tools, the computer, the software, either GarageBand, ProTools, Logic, Ableton, Reason, Sonar, Digital Performer, et cetera. A midi controller key board, so you can play in midi parts. A mic or a microphones, an audio interface, headphones for tracking and audio monitors for mixing. Once you have your track list and tools organized, the next step is to make a schedule for recording and editing. This we're going to call the time line, this is your algorithm or recipe, a set of steps to be done in a particular order. We will record some parts together. We will overdub each part individually. Simply for instance, you can order your upcoming steps as follows, one, record the basic tracks, two, record lead vocals. Three record solos, four edit, and five do your mix. A vital part of your planning concerns the issue of what you'll do yourself and where you'll enlist collaboration. When collaborating, choosing the right talent is so important. I've gotten pretty good at it, but it's taken a while, and I've made some sub-optimal choices in the past. Word of mouth is a great way to find musicians, musicians are usually known among their peers for the genre that they're best at, but even with the best intentions. I've had sessions ruined by a drummer who plays too loud for the song, or doesn't have the right feel. Or a soloist who shows up under the influence, or my own bad planning in creating a track for a vocalist that's in the wrong key. So, plan carefully. Post your production plan with the three elements as a PDF. And always remember, have fun.