Today i’ll be writing about something which is incredibly prevalent in my musical scene and is important to the development of artists and in a way integral to their success early on in their career. that is the art of remixing and providing work for labels. i’ll be initially looking at what makes a good remix from a stylistic and systematic perspective as well as how to translate your own sound into a marketable entity.
Thereafter i will be looking at what it takes to actually have music on a label and your responsibilities in relation to this.
The act of remixing a track is often something that is overlooked by a lot of producers. the steps needed to craft a good remix can seem elusive and at times downright complicated. The essential parts to understand is that not every track needs a remix. some things are better left alone; in the same way a song can sound over crowded if there is too much happening within it, so too can a song not benefit from a remix. alongside this is to have a strong idea of what it is you want to achieve by taking on this project. do you want to change the “vibe” of the song? do you want to express something that you feel is in the original but not as prominent? do you want to change the genre so it fits into something you would actually listen to compared to the original? there are a lot of options.
But, we’ll start from the top.
The initial thing to establish when setting out to remix a song is; pick a song that you think would benefit from a remix. You’re more likely to follow through with a remix if you like the original idea. This is even more important if you’re making a bootleg and don’t have access to any stems; you need to pick a song that leaves room for work to be done.
(Note: this also applies when being asked to do remixes. If a label asks you to do a remix and you aren’t a fan of it, why not ask if there are other releases that need to be remixed?)
Once you have selected a song you then need to progress on to planning how you intend to change it. Take a good listen to the original and write down any ideas that come to mind while doing so. You might hear a new drum beat in one section, or you might think that a subtle pluck melody would work well with the vocal line in the breakdown. anything and everything is possible. it simply falls on you to arrange it how you’d like.
An important thing to note is to respect the original track and its content. Working with the material given to you instead of against it is essential. It isn’t wise to turn an original track that’s in 4/4 time signature into 3/4, and a label won’t accept your “remix” if there isn’t a trace of the original track in it.
One of the main reasons people don’t finish remixes is because they don’t get the arrangement down soon enough. Just like building a game plan, the arrangement gives you a sense of direction and allows you to step back to look at how your remix is developing as a whole.
As soon as you have ideas down, sketch out a basic arrangement. You should have it down quicker than you would normally when working on an original, because you already have a few ideas handed to you. This is crucial when doing a remix for a label as you will undoubtedly be working to a deadline.
Another thing about remixing is that a remix doesn’t have to be incredibly contrasted to the original. Sometimes you might just want to add a little extra to the original, or expand on ideas. You’ll often hear remixes where the artist has changed just the bassline and drums, but kept the overall vibe of the song.This doesn’t work for every remix, but sometimes it’s exactly what’s needed.
The final part of writing a good remix is having your own musical signature. this is something which can take years to develop. (some people use the same synth in every track, others its a specific drum sound). nevertheless, this is a great way to give the listener a sense of cohesion among all your tracks, it also helps them remember you. I’m not talking about a style as such, but rather something small and unique that doesn’t detract from the main idea or vibe of the song. this can also work in your favour when submitting a remix for say, a competition, or to a label for an Ep. Little things like this can go a long way to establishing your sound and make you stand out from the crowd.
now that i’ve explained more or less how to go about remixing. i’ll have a look at what it means to actually be signed to label and the things required of you once this happens.
Being signed basically means you as an artist are a partner with the record label. It means you work for the label and the label works for you. It means the label owns, (in part), your music/compositions.
No contract is the same, different artists have different contracts, depending on the negotiations. As an artist on a label you merely have to keep providing profitable music and being engaged in marketing your product and the label.
Most indie or underground labels will also act in a collectivised manner to further boost their reach.