All Posts in music industry

November 10, 2010 - No Comments!

10 Tips For Remixing

Remixes are a big part of the music industry, and in many cases can often revive an old song, showcase an artist that otherwise would not be found by the masses and also get the attention of the big players in the scene.

Throughout my time working with other artists and labels I have found a few tips that may help you with your next remix:

1. Work With The Label

Most remixes will come from a label (either pro or just starting up) which means you will have to work with them to come to a middle ground between your sound and theirs. If your not sure, ask them questions about the genre, style and overall direction with the remix. Afterall, it's usually their money they are putting on the line when they release the track so they want to get it right.

2. Be Bold

As Wikipedia states: remix is an alternative version of a song, made from an original version. With that in mind, make your remix stand out by taking it in another direction either with melody, effects or a completely different genre (label permitting). Challenge yourself to really step out of your comfort zone and be bold with your choices.

3. Skills That Kill

Often the label will only know how good you are by your last couple of tracks, so allowing yourself to get creative with the remix and work in some new skills that you have learnt since is ideal. Many times, a remix will push you into areas/sounds and genres you haven't worked with before and that is a great time to use your new skills.

4. Research The Label

As well as working with the label,  you should take some time to research the labels sound, past releases and main genres. This will help you craft your remix to suit the label - which may avoid them saying no to version 1 of your remix.

5. Get Back On The Horse

There has been times in the past where I have submitted a remix and it wasn't approved. This wasn't because the actual song was bad, but more because I didn't take time to research the label beforehand. Getting back on the horse and completely re-creating the remix is a challenge, but well worth it.

6. Go Off Topic

If you find yourself staring at a blank canvas for hours on end it might be time to go off topic and make a completely new track (not connected to the remix). Once you have a fresh start you may be able to work the remix back into the new track and re-create it from there. If not, you still have a brand new track on the go for next time!

7. Less Is More

I know what it's like to open a remix kit (or stems pack) and have 40 small loops at your disposal. The trick is to only use the ones that really talk to you - avoid cramming every single riff and vocal into the mix just to 'use' them. Some of the best remixes only use a tiny sample of the original song.

8. Don't Lose Yourself

Remind yourself that a remix is meant to showcase your skills just as much as the original. Don't lose yourself in the production if you have to modify your core sound/style to suit the label. It's better to decline a remix opportunity than to accept one that makes you produce something you don't like.

9. Past Techniques

Creating a remix around an already established track is sometimes a big challenge, one that's better left on its own. While playing with new sounds or effects may benefit you; also remember what techniques have worked for you before. Cracking open that new piece of software or hardware as you embark on a remix may not be the best idea.

10. Smash It Out

Being asked to remix a track is a great thing - it means someone is paying attention to your music. They asked you because they love your style or sound and want you to make this remix something you would smash out at your next gig. If you're not happy with the remix, keep re-working it until it blows your mind.

Listen to my music here: https://soundcloud.com/subpixel

 

August 29, 2010 - 4 comments

10 Inspirational Tips For Music Producers

In general, inspiration can come in many forms, most often when we least expect it.

You may already have a bunch of tips that help you find inspiration when producing, so I hope you can add these to the mix and get back on track. After reading these tips, you may also like my other post: How To Start Producing Music.

1. Loosen The Grip On Your Mind

If you occasionally beat yourself up for not coming up with something the way it sounded in your head, you're not alone. The way we hear things in our mind and the way we interpret that thought into our music are nearly always going to be different. This IS a good thing. Allow your inspiration to come through your music in a way you weren't expecting. It keeps it interesting, fresh and can spark a lot more inspiration.

2. Start Before You Think

Often referred to as "on the fly", being spontaneous can sometimes kick-start your imagination in a big way. Dropping in a random loop, off beat percussion or quick melody and building a track around that regularly leads to something worth saving. Sometimes, getting stuck with a particular sound, VST or genre can quickly demotivate you in making another track.

3. Remix

Remixes (and bootleg remixes) are great ways for producers to gain some attention. They are also great for breaking free from the 'freak out' that can come from seeing a blank canvas. By challenging yourself to remix you will inevitably fuel your inspiration and at the same time learn how other producers construct their songs.

4. Humour Yourself

Got Cheese? Humour is a great way to break up an uninspiring production. Open a new project, lay down some random samples and add some humour either in the form of funny recorded vocals or cheesy sounding synths. Sure it may not be a track you ever show anyone else, but it might just be the kick* you need to jump into the next project with a clear mind. *Pun intended

5. Lay It Out

Some producers may struggle with melodies, while others may struggle with the layout of a track. Whatever your hurdle, laying out a track from another artist you admire may just help you overcome that obstacle. While I don't recommend copying another artists work, I do recommend gaining inspiration from the way in which they have crafted their sounds, started their breakdowns, changed the riffs and fleshed out their layers; Which may help you get past those technical issues that can block creativity.

6. Enjoy Your Production Space

Most artists will tend to have one main space to which their productions are born. Allow this space to be a place that inspires you and invites you back each time. Some will find the addition of the Internet to this workspace to be a freeing move which can help break up studio time comfortably, especially in the track rendering down-time.  Other additions may be open window lighting, controlled darkness, sound-wall padding, plants, supporting chair and (monitored) alcoholic beverages.

7. Don't Do Anything

How often have you forced yourself to create something even when you haven't been in the mood? Producing is a very complex process and can occasionally be slowed to a halt with forced creativity. If you don't feel like making any music, then don't. While there are moments when you may need to push on through regardless of mood due to project time constraints (#Tip 2), creating a track when your mind isn't there can often do more harm then good; Leaving you frustrated and annoyed which can alter your positive perception of your production space and musical abilities.

8. Time Constraints Are Good

If you have managed to gain a project with time constraints, think of yourself as a lucky one. Many producers ( usually including yourself at an early point in your career) would love to have the opportunity to be asked by labels and other producers to create original and remix productions for them. Essentially, it's the next step up from producing tracks and sending them to labels in the hope that they listen to them, let alone sign them. If the time constraints are really eating at you, it might be best to go back to Tip #1 or #2 or contact the label/producer and coming to an alternative arrangement.

9. Allow Yourself The Freedom To Change

Most people do a variety of different projects at any one time in their lives. The same goes for producers, who often pick up the 'cousin' craft of DJing. Participating in another activity that occupies your mind for long periods of time can often alter how you produce; Sometimes making it harder to create new tracks. This situation is perfectly normal and may just mean that you are putting inspiration into your other activity and it may take a little while to get back into the mind space needed for new productions. To counter act this situation, you may just need to play out Tip #2 or even #7 until you decide which path should take precedence.

10. Listen, Watch and Attend

Listening to new music, Watching music videos and Attending gigs, concerts and festivals should be a must for every producer. Opening your mind to 'research' via the Internet, or in the physical world will impact directly on your productions. As humans, we often emulate what we hear and see, and as most productions fit to a certain style based on genre (Kick, Snare, Perc, Instrument, FX) the visual and aural learning can only benefit your mind and concepts. Add to that the rapid rise of the digital producer taking his productions to a LIVE show purposely blurring the lines from bedroom producer to live act.

Hopefully you will find these tips useful for your own productions as I have. If you have any questions:

Listen to my music here: https://soundcloud.com/subpixel

 

August 25, 2010 - No Comments!

Is Producing The New DJ’ing?

The music industry has gone through many changes over the years but nothing seems to have hit it harder than the arrival of the Internet. The Internet appears to have completely changed the game to the point where the big labels/corporations are still struggling to find their feet. Previously, DJ's who were lucky enough to buy the first release of an LP were usually the only ones to have it in their area, thus propelling their star further for having the freshest tracks.

But these days, anyone with an Internet connection can access the latest music, sometimes even before it has been officially released worldwide. This situation has been changing the general appeal of the DJ for some time to the point where producers seem to have been overtaking the lime-lite. From where I sit I continually see producers getting more attention through the Internet in terms of events, opportunities and even fans.

Some producers have set the world alight in such a short time with their incredible productions, leaving the actual art of DJ'ing to second place. One producer in particular (love him or loathe him) is Deadmau5. His productions are state of the art; colossal beasts that have generated a massive fan-base in a ridiculously short amount of time. With the aid of the Internet (and portals such as Ustream, Youtube and Beatport), Deadmau5 has been able to craft a career focusing on his skills as a producer first, before any DJ'ing actually took place.

And he's not alone. There are a ton of other artists gaining increasing attention for their productions and overtaking spots usually reserved for extremely skillful DJ's. In some cases (and it seems to be growing by the day), the Producers are able to sell out shows much quicker without the actual proof that they can DJ and/or even have a live act presence. But that doesn't stop the hordes of fans wanting to get a glimpse of an artist that inspires/moves and fuels them with their creations that other DJ's often can't match.

The shift is happening right now. And to stay on board with current demands (and eager/impatient downloaders) veteran and fresh DJ's alike may have to start considering the addition of 'producer' to their title or they may find themselves lost in the sea of creators.

Agree or Disagree? Drop your thoughts to my Twitter or Facebook page.

- Diesel Laws

July 17, 2010 - No Comments!

Simplicity Is Not Killing The Industry

Music. A powerful word given the multiple different meanings worldwide. To me, it represents an intangible connection; Something that passes through the air to make you feel something. In many ways this feeling is a positive experience with a rumble from a bassline, the soothing harmonies of a synth or the memorable vocals that flow with the track.

Yet, even with this positive experience I am constantly drawn to the negative comments on products in the DJ world and how their 'simplicity' is ruining or killing the industry. While I believe their comments do raise some valid points about the ease of digital music creation, they simply forget to notice the bigger picture - COMPETITION.

For as long as musicians and producers have been creating music we, as a human race, have strived to simplify every area of that process. Be it the simplicity of portable recording software, digital equipment, USB drives, internet downloads and more. The competition for companies to beat their rivals at bringing out the best products that appeal to a much wider audience has to do with our demands for simplicity. We constantly yearn for updates, changes and modifications so as to create less work for ourselves, make the process more enjoyable and get to the end in a faster time.

This, in it's layman terms, is SIMPLICITY.

I bring to you an example of how simplicity is applicable right now with the invention of the Pioneer CDJ-350 and DJM-350.

I was watching the above presentation by DJ Avicii about the new Pioneer CDJ's and he discusses the new features and explains the simplicity of what can now be achieved with the MASTER BPM LOCK. What that means in a nutshell is that you can lock the Beats Per Minute across both CDJ's, which in turn makes EVERY song in your playlist play at that tempo (speed). I don't want to get to in-depth about this feature, but what that means for most is that by using these pieces of hardware, it makes it ridiculously easy to beat-match tracks together. So instead of a DJ changing the speed of the incoming song to match the one that is playing, it is already done for him. Simplicity.

Now hopefully by now you can imagine the issue seen by most people with this situation. It opens up the debate about how simple have we actually made that product? Eventually will we need a DJ to stand there and mix tracks together or can that be automated also? And it's not just in the DJ'ing arena - this also flows into the ease of producing dance music in general (and also every other field where computers play a part).

So what's the big thing that everyone is missing with the creation of these 'easier' products?

It now means that in whatever field you are in, to stand out you will now have to work harder then before. Rather than complain/argue your point about how the 'industry has changed', instead use this as a fuel to your fire. With the ease of producing digital music from brilliant pieces of software such as Ableton Live, any artist/producer will now have to push that little bit harder to make standout tracks that appeal to the updated world.

The fact that a producer can now create a track, self master and sell it on a website in only a matter of days is an incredible thing, and I am so excited that we are at this stage in the game. While this may scare/annoy or anger some other people in the industry - it is what it is, and just because a new song can be completed in a day does not mean that it will be great. It also does not mean it will be a hit and sell millions.

Simplicity opens doors and allows more people to be a part of their chosen world. And with more people, there is more competition. And with more competition comes the pursuit of the "Stand-Outs" - the people who use the simplicity but push further into challenging waters to rise above the pack. Just because it's simple, doesn't mean it's simple.

If you are a person who constantly reminds others that "the music industry has changed" and "everything is so simple now", then please stop. We know it has and we are aware of the simplicity. We have embraced the changes and are using them to our full potential. We are also excited that women can now vote, wear bikini's legally and that smoking cigarettes is being outlawed due to health concerns.

Keep creating, updating and modifying the world.

- Diesel Laws