What is remixing music, how do you make a remix and can it be illegal?
Remixing music is taking another artist's work and rebuilding it to your music style and flavor.
It became popular in the late 1960s, when ska, reggae, and dub tracks got recreated by enthusiastic and local mixers to fit the tastes of their audience.
Today, remixing is very easy in modern DAW’s. Producers remix other artists' music every day, and so should you.
But there are a couple of things to know before you start remixing music.
This article will give you the answers to what a remix is, why artists release so many remixes, if you can make money on it and if it’s illegal.
You will also learn what makes a successful remix and the process to get started.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
What Is A Remix In Music?
A remix takes pieces from someone else’s music or remakes the entire track to create a new musical piece.
Remixing is very popular across many genres, including electronic dance music, hip hop, and more.
Artists typically want to include their flavor and style into another artist's work. And sometimes, collaborations can stretch across genres.
For example, it’s common for house music artists to remix dubstep and the other way around.
That can create some interesting results and open up both artist's music to two entire new sets of audiences.
Remixing is a very popular way for producers to push themselves in their production and collaborate with artists worldwide.
Why Do Artists Release So Many Remixes?
Artists release many remixes because it’s a fun and effective way to work. Firstly, collaborating is fun.
Working together with other music producers and getting a glimpse into their work is always interesting.
And by working with projects vastly different from yours, you can open up new ways of doing things that can take your production skills to the next level.
It’s also a great way to build an audience, as people can share your remix across the other artist's network.
If your remix is great and the other artists following is similar to yours in size, that means you can double the number of listens with remixes.
But collaboration and musical exploration is always the greatest reason to do remixes. When you remix solely to get fame, the results aren’t necessarily great.
Go in with the mindset that you want to inject your style and flair into the other musicians' work, and you will do great.
Do Artists Make Money From Remixes?
Yes, artists make money from remixes. Depending on the quality of the remix, the income can vary greatly.
Some remixes see incredible fame because the other artist shares it on their massive network.
Sometimes, you can see remix tracks topping the rankings on Spotify with millions of listens. In contrast, other tracks only have a fraction of those plays.
Worth mentioning is in remixes, you and the other artist typically share the income because the work is from two artists.
But because the play count can grow higher from the double fanbase, the income from streams usually balances out.
Artists typically make more money from doing live gigs than from streams, but they can make money from doing remixes.
And with the potential of getting more listeners in the process, it’s a great thing to pursue in your music career.
What Makes A Successful Remix?
A successful remix highlights the best aspects of a music piece while incorporating your style.
If you remix a track with a very distinctive vocal hook, instrument, or other sounds, include that as it will heighten the recognizability of the track.
When a remix is successful, it's well-liked by your fans as well as the artist whose music you remixed.
It gets many listens or purchases and gets people talking.
Great remixes can also open the possibility for more future collaborations.
Is It Illegal To Make A Remix Of A Song?
The short answer is yes. It can be. Music is subject to copyright, which is why you can’t take snippets of any music and make a remix.
A better way to ensure your remix is legal is by asking the artist's permission first.
If they agree, you can also get the stems, meaning the parts of the entire track.
That way, you can create better quality remixes that make you and all listeners happier.
How To Make A Remix Of A Song
Artists start by finding a piece of music they want to remix.
Maybe they get an idea in their head on how they could make it better or add their own style to it.
If it’s an artist they know, getting the stems is often easy.
But major artists get hundreds of mixing requests every day, sometimes making it difficult to get a yes.
There are platforms where people can submit their music for remix requests.
But your best bet is building a relationship with artists who have a similar-sized fanbase as you.
After the artists get a yes from a remix, they typically get sent the stems.
They are usually each channel without effects that the artists can do whatever they want.
Sometimes, they get sent the entire project file with all the synthesizers and effects included.
The Remixing Process
How artists approach the remixing process varies, like how they start any musical piece from scratch.
The difference is that with remixes, artists don’t need to experiment as much to find inspiration.
With the other artist's sound, they often have all the inspiration they need to get started.
In remixing, there are no rules. You can use as many or as few sounds from the original track as you want.
But as a general guideline, you want to make it recognizable.
Put yourself in your listener's shoes. If you see a remix of your favorite track, wouldn’t you want to hear some sounds from the original?
Want to practice your remixing skills? Check out these project templates.
Remixing other artist's music is a fun, creative, and excellent part of making music. It can open doors for future collaborations with great artists.
And if your remix becomes better than the original, you can see great fame and opportunities from your releases.
It’s not the best way to make money on your music, but that goes for all streaming.
When you go into it with the mindset of enhancing a music piece with your style and flavor, results usually become great.
Remixing is a very popular way of creating music.
And honestly, collaboration in music is probably the most fun you’ll ever have when making music.
So go out there and make some remixes!
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Thanks for reading, and see you in the next article.
About the author
Pelle Sundin is a Swedish music producer and writer, active with his chillout project PLMTRZ. He also produces psytrance. When he's not producing, he surfs, skates, and chugs coffee.