The idea of a remix has been around since electronic music started becoming prominent decades ago. Because so many producers work with samples of pre-existing music, it only makes sense that they would be adept at taking a popular song — with permission from the artist — and remix it into their own creation. Just as many rising artists become famous or recognized by covering other music, whether on YouTube or SoundCloud, producers are getting their foot in the door by remixing. A popular song is released, then a budding producer gives it a new and exciting reinvention. Because the song is already popular, the remix gets a lot of attention, especially if it’s good. But since the art of remixing has become so prominent, it’s hard to stand out. And for those producers who are new to remixing, it’s difficult to know where to start. So, whether you’re a seasoned remixer or you just got your first batch of stems, we’ve outlined five smart ways to approach a remix for you to stand out.
In 1980, the Roland Corporation introduced the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer — what we know as the 808. It was among one of the first programmable drum machines. And despite being decades old, it’s as prominent as ever in modern music. Though, producers today may not be using the actual drum pad, they’re using the samples: booming bass drops, digital snares, tinny hi-hats, artificial claps, etc. In rap music today, the 808 drum kit can be found everywhere from Grammy-winning artists and producers like Kanye West and Jay-Z.
But with such prominence also comes a lot of repetition. When listening to a handful of hip-hop’s most popular trap tunes at any given moment, can you really tell who the producer is without the producer tag? Certainly Metro Boomin is going to produce differently than Mike WiLL Made-It, but in many scenarios, their use of 808 drum kits ends up sounding very similar. This isn’t a bad thing — most acoustic drum kits sound similar, whether it’s Led Zeppelin or The Who. But in this modern era of production, taking the time to make your 808 drum kits unique will go a long way in helping you to stand out among the rest. Here are a few ways how:
The art of mixing in many ways is an art of balancing — you’re weighing different frequencies, audio levels, sound placements, etc. Many times when trying to balance too many things at once, things begin to fall apart. If your mix is too busy and crowded with clashing frequencies and harsh-sounding audio clips, you’ll need to clean it up before releasing the music. So, before you give the greenlight to a mix that’s on the border of being too busy, give it a few tests. We’ve outlined four ways to tell if your mix is too busy, and in each way, we offer a solution.
Whether you’re completely new to songwriting or have been making music for years, working in a space that’s conducive for creativity is essential if you’re taking your craft seriously. But musicians often have a bad reputation for not taking care of themselves, and sometimes this neglect can seep its way into the songwriting process and stifle the atmosphere that surrounds the unique way we write songs. Are you one of those people with the uncanny ability to work creatively in any space? Well, that’s awesome, but the rest of us will have to invest thought and energy into creating a comfortable space to make music in.
Some of the greatest sample-based production has featured clear and upfront use of other samples. On the other hand, turning a sample into your own unique piece of music is a creative way to put your personal touch on a piece of sample-based production.
If you’re having trouble using samples because you don’t want the original song to be so present, we’ve outlined seven ways to make a sample completely your own.
But before you master the art of sampling, know that even if the sample you use is unrecognizable from the original sample, you should always ensure you have all appropriate licenses and clearances from the original creator, even if you give your music out for free. And your incorporation of samples in to material which you display on the ReverbNation site is subject to our Terms and Conditions.
Electronic drums have become the new standard for most popular genres of music, from hip-hop to pop to EDM. Several of the world’s biggest artists go on tour without a drummer — something unimaginable just a few decades ago. Drums are still an integral part of popular music, but instead of an actual drummer on an acoustic kit pounding out the beats, it’s usually a producer hunched over a laptop.
However, that doesn’t mean acoustic drums don’t have a place in modern music. Obviously genres like rock and country still use drummers. But for producers that are used to working with 808s and digitally-created percussion, there are plenty of benefits of blending acoustic drums with electronic drums. Though, it’s important to make sure blending the two is done smoothly. Otherwise, the contrast can be overbearing, sloppy, and inorganic. Here are five ways to blend the two:
One of the most essential mixing tips when working with low frequencies is to exercise the “less is more” approach. These days, low frequencies are more pronounced than ever in popular music, with hip-hop and EDM-inflected pop dominating the charts. But in order for the low frequencies you want to shine, you need to tame the ones you don’t want. The human ear can only hear so many frequencies, but luckily, digital audio workstations give us helpful tools like EQ spectrums so we can see where our audio is landing on the frequency scale.
A beefy 808 should be most pronounced below 200Hz — whereas a hi-hat really has no good reason to have frequencies in that below 200Hz area. No one is listening to a hi-hat for the low-end, just like no one is listening to an 808 for frequencies above 10,000Hz. When the two start to get in each other’s lanes, the mix can start to mud and feel cluttered. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A smart producer and/or mixer will know to tame unwanted low frequencies in instruments that don’t call for a pronounced low end, such as most hi-hats. So, let’s get into the weeds about when and why you should tame those unwanted low frequencies.
If you’re a serious songwriter, you’re probably used to wrestling with the beasts of routine and boredom every so often. Even songwriters brimming with talent and promise have fruitless writing sessions sometimes. It’s all part of the process. But when a songwriter experiences weeks, months or even years of uninspired frustration with their work, it’s an entirely different story. If this sounds like you, I’ve got some practical guidance that can help break you out of your songwriting rut.