Remixes are a great way to piggyback on the popularity of already established artists or popular tracks and increase your reach as a music producer. It also allows you to express yourself as an artist by adding your own personal touch and adding something fresh.
There are certain aspects that you need to be aware of before you start, though. To get the most out of your remixes and avoid burning bridges with artists and labels, we’ve listed eight things that you need to pay attention to.
1. Pick the right track
There are several criteria that you have to take into account when remixing.
First, what do you want to achieve?
Many producers choose to unofficially remix popular songs for the “piggyback effect” that it generates. You could try to pitch the artists or record labels to see if you can make your remix official, but it’s going to be quite tricky to make an official remix of Another Brick in the Wall.
You’ll have to see if there’s any popular remix in your genre so that you don’t end up repeating someone else’s vibe. Use Soundcloud or Youtube and simply search for the original song plus the word “remix”. Maybe you are remixing a popular song so that it is more suitable to be played in a club. Maybe you want to delve into a different genre.
2. Determine if you want to do an official remix
If you listen to electronic music, you’ve surely come across terms like remake, edit, rework, bootleg, unofficial or VIP.
All these terms indicate anything but an official remix. Most of the times, unofficial remixes are made simply by ripping parts of the song to create a modified version or something significantly different than the original.
If you’re opting to do an official remix, it’s important to know that the song that you want to remix has two essential copyrights: the song copyright and the master recording.
The master recording is the end product that comes out of your DAW (the output). The song itself (the input) is the intellectual property of the songwriter. A remix is a by-product of the original and you will need permission from the songwriter to publish it and use it commercially.
Btw, see this video tutorial on making a remix for inspiration.
3. Know how to pitch for remixes
Pitching for remixes can seem daunting, especially for beginners. Why would a label or an artist agree to send you a song’s stems? Actually, the real question is “What’s in it for them?” Think of your genre. Is it popular enough for them to consider adapting a song to it? Is your fan base big enough to be worth mentioning? Do you have any other way you promote your music? You get the picture. The key is to center your pitch around what you’re going to bring on the table.
4. Add originality by creating your own chord progression for the remix
There’s nothing like a touch of artistry to showcase your fine taste in music and bring something new to a song. Try to create your own genre-specific chord progression and make sure you stay in the scale that correlates with the key of the song.
5. Be careful not to ruin a song
Okay, not trying to be a hater, but some songs are better left untouched if you can’t handle them. You can mash up a beat with a theme from a popular song, but you would be left with just the original song and a beat on top, nothing more. Make sure your remix is more than that.
Looking for ways to write progressive house? Maybe you'd like to make a remix in that style? See this video.
6. Add your own musical signature
Having your own style as a music producer is important because it reflects your own personality and artistic expression. Your listeners are more likely to remember you if your tracks are cohesive and bear your distinct personal imprint. You’ll want that to be obvious in your remixes as well.
7. Pay attention to mixing and mastering
You may come with a truly great idea for a remix, but if the mixing and mastering sound off, professionals will quickly pass you down. Popular labels and artists receive a huge amount of pitches and demos which they have to quickly sort out. Labels handle the mastering, so you should make sure that the mixdown is done right. If you’re sending your remix directly to the artist, you’ll have to send it properly mixed AND mastered. If you’re unsure of your mixing and mastering skills, then consider getting your track mixed and mastered by a professional sound engineer. Remember to keep your mix clean and avoid overcrowding sounds that don’t even match. Try to give each sound its own role in the mix.
8. Be patientDon’t be too hasty in getting a remix finished. When it comes to inspiration, you can “force yourself” to come up with new ideas, but trying too much is counterproductive. Maybe the way you’ve started out seemed alright in the beginning, but down the road you know that you could have approached things differently. When it comes to remix contests, it really doesn’t matter if you’re the first or the last to submit. You can try doing multiple versions of the remix and see which one resonates with you the best.
Now that you know what you should and shouldn’t do when remixing, it’s time to actually do it. Choose a track and see if you can get the stems or if there are any parts from which you can extract some main elements yourself. Reinterpret the track, ideally by changing the genre.
Thanks for reading this article, good luck with your remixes!
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