Talented music producer Simon Moro (check out his work at ninetynine100.com) took some time out of his day to produce a quick little guide about common music production myths ahead of his panel at the brilliant Live and Local Festival artist development workshop program happening across the City of Port Phillip this week! If you’re in the Melbourne area do check out this fantastic opportunity for professional development.
MYTH 1) Spending more money on the production of an average song will make it successful.
With the accessibility of software, plugins and sample libraries, it can be tempting to keep trying to ‘fix’ a song by changing the sounds or adding layers and effects. If a composition is poor, production will do little to really improve it. Go back to the drawing board and fix the problem at the source. Write a stronger song. The more songs you write, the better you will get at it. A songwriter should be writing several song ideas every day! Imagine visiting a doctor that only sees 12 patients per year. How confident would you be in their ability?
MYTH 2) Choosing a producer or studio based on quotes is good practice.
I often have sales enquiries in which I’m immediately asked what my rates are. Other than my mastering service, it’s a trickier question to answer! Until I know the scope of work, the artist’s goal and existing resources, I’m unable to answer the question. For example, an hourly rate is often irrelevant. What IS relevant is “How long will it take to achieve XYZ?” One producer might take 3 hours to edit a vocal poorly, while an experienced producer, could do a better job in a 3rd of the time. When asking for quotes, start by explaining your goals, and ask how they would approach helping you to achieve them. A good producer will be able to make you feel comfortable and excited about the process.
MYTH 3) Producing and mixing your own music on a laptop at home, and having it mastered by a pro will make it sound like a million dollars.
There are so many layers and factors to producing an ‘expensive’ sounding track. The recording and mixing stages contribute to such a large part of the overall sound. Neglecting these areas of production can impact your song’s chances of connecting with an audience. If you were building a house for the very first time, you designed it, ordered the materials, laid the foundations, built the frame etc., it’s probably not going to be your finest work. Maybe after the 10th house, you’d be getting the hang of it. Paying a professional to lay the carpet, paint the walls and put the roof on your first house, won’t make it the best house on the street. A song is ready for mastering when it already sounds good enough to release! A finished mix, should have all the magic already present. If not, get back to work, and book your mastering session when the mixes are sounding awesome!
MYTH 4) Mixing ‘as you go’, is the way to go.
Mixing is such an important part of the recording process. However, in the DYI revolution, it’s somehow been tacked onto ‘writing, recording and producing’, before a third party takes over for mastering. The mix as you go approach often comes from the trend of working on songs over weeks and months, at home, on a computer, sometimes in scenarios where the production is trying to compensate for composition, arrangement or performance problems. By mixing as you go, it feels like the song is evolving and coming together as the weeks pass. This becomes an issue as you approach the end of production, ready to ‘finish the mix’. The challenge is to be objective. Next time, when you’re ready to ‘finish the mix’, try committing all existing sounds to audio files, then starting a new session in your DAW, bring in these audio files, and start the mix from this point. You’ll be more objective, and less tempted to go back and tweak things one last time.
MYTH 5) Your audience should be expected to ‘imagine the potential’ of your song.
If you’ve ever finished your own music DIY, chances are you were ‘pretty happy’ with it, but with all honesty, could hear that is wasn’t quite as good as you favourite artists’ last release. You then put this song into the world, knowing it’s not quite there, but hey, you know how great it COULD sound, and how close it is.The problem with this is that your audience isn’t trained musicians or producers. They just hear the song, and either connect with it, or not. They shouldn’t be expected to support a song based on its potential. What if you bought a backpack from an online store, and when it arrived, there were now straps. Sure, you could ‘imagine’ the potential of this product if it had straps, but you’d probably ask for your money back. If you feel like your song isn’t quite there, find the missing piece of the puzzle, and release its full potential! Your career and your fans deserve it!