For the independent musician, sounding great isn’t a rarity only available to major label artists anymore – it is a must. Music sales may have tapered, but that doesn’t mean that recorded music is going away any time soon. Far from it. More music is being consumed on more devices by more fans than ever before in history! Musicians are making their music available on internet and satellite radio, online music streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, and YouTube, selling on direct-to-fan sites such as CD Baby, Bandcamp, and ReverbNation, and still pushing sales through ‘traditional’ online retailers such as iTunes and Amazon MP3. Let’s face it, there is no excuse for an artist to release poor recordings.
For some people, audio engineers are still mysterious. To others, they are ‘evil’ manipulators of sound, creating false, auto-tuned, drones out of terrible artists. This, however, is far from fact. Every recording, no matter the genre, gets touched by a recording engineer, mixing engineer, and mastering engineer. The recording engineer uses many of microphones and technique to accurately capture and record the artist’s performance as it happens in the recording studio. The mix engineer takes all of the separate audio tracks and crafts the music to sound correct and convey the song’s emotion. He sets correct levels, panning, EQ, compression, and adds special effects where needed to enhance the musician’s vision. Finally, the mastering engineer uses unique tools and highly trained ears in an acoustically sound room to subtly polish and prepare the music for final release and ensure the music translates to a variety of playback systems. “While many audio techniques can enhance the final production, we engineers are not magicians and can’t replace a poor performance or terrible recording,” says Scott of Virtual Mix Engineer.
Recordings are more often used as promotional vessel for artists and labels. The most income these days is in touring, publishing, film and TV placements, and merchandise. When a listener connects with an artist’s music, they’ll listen to their music, comment, and share the music with their friends. The fans want to help the artist and buy tickets to their shows, purchase apparel, and follow and interact with the group through social media. As the band grows in popularity, their music may be chosen for sync placements in movies and TV, which not only provides great exposure, it also pays quite well. To make it to this stage however, it all starts with a great song and polished recording.
The rise of do-it-yourself recording has led to more musicians releasing music than ever before. With a powerful laptop, some microphones, a DAW, and a little know-how, anyone can record and distribute music. One area where many artists fall short is failing to recognize their weaknesses in audio engineering. An experienced engineer has the right tools, but most importantly the skills to make a recording reach its full potential. Though it can be difficult for an artist, letting go and trusting your mixer will take your recordings to the next level and help you stand out from the masses. Fans are instantly attracted to a well-written and performed song that sounds like a hit.
Spend the proper time in pre-production, ensuring your song and arrangement are as solid as possible. Then and only then, book time in the best studio you can afford to lay down your basic tracks. Find a local or online mix engineer within your budget whose work and personality you like, and tweak the mix until you’re satisfied. Lastly, send the songs off to a mastering house for that final touch. Once your record is completed, you can get the music into multiple stores and into the ears of your listeners and fans.
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Scott Horton is the epitome of the modern mixing engineer/producer/songwriter. Scott has worked with multitudes of recording artists the world over in all musical genres ranging from Pop, Pop-Rock, Hip-Hop,RnB, Urban and more. His online mixing and mastering service, Virtual Mix Engineer, provides recording artists with industry standard sounding mixes which make impressions that count. Visit Scott at www.virtualmixengineer.com
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