For the independent musician, sounding amazing isn’t a luxury only available to major label artists anymore – it is essential. Music sales may have diminished, but that doesn’t mean that recorded music is on its way out. Far from it. More music is being consumed on more devices by more listeners 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. Simply put, there is no excuse for an artist to put out poor recordings.
For some people, audio engineers are still an enigma. To others, they are ‘evil’ manipulators of sound, creating phony, auto-tuned, drones out of untalented artists. This, however, is far from the truth. Every recording, no matter the type, gets taken care of by a recording engineer, mix engineer, and mastering engineer. The recording engineer utilizes a plethora of microphones and technique to accurately capture and record the artist’s performance as it occurs in the recording studio. The mixing engineer takes all of the separate music tracks and crafts the music to sound correct and convey the song’s emotion. He sets correct levels, panning, EQ, compression, and adds creative effects where needed to enhance the musician’s vision. Lastly, the mastering engineer uses unique equipment and highly trained ears in an acoustically accurate room to subtly polish and prepare the production 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 tool for artists and labels. The big dough 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 group grows in popularity, their music may be chosen for sync placements in movies and TV, which not only provides great exposure, it also pays well. To make it to this stage however, it all begins with a great song and polished recording.
The rise of DIY recording has led to more artists releasing music than ever before. With a powerful computer, some mics, a digital audio workstation, and a little know-how, anyone can record and distribute music. One area where many musicians fall short is failing to recognize their weaknesses in mixing. An experienced mixer has the right tools, but most importantly the knowledge to make a recording reach its full potential. Though it can be hard for an artist, letting go and trusting your mixer will take your recordings to the next level and help you stand out from the crowd. Fans are instantly attracted to a well-written and performed song that sounds like a hit.
Spend a good amount of time in pre-production, ensuring your composition and arrangement are as strong as possible. Then and only then, get into the best studio you can afford to lay down your basic tracks. Hire a local or online mixing engineer within your budget whose work and personality you connect with, and tweak the mix until you’re happy. Finally, send the songs off to mastering for that final touch. Once your recording is completed, you can get the music into multiple outlets and into the ears of your listeners and fans.
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Scott Horton is the ultimate example of the cutting-edge mixing engineer/producer/songwriter. Scott has worked with countless recording artists from around the world in all musical genres ranging from Pop, Pop-Rock, Hip-Hop,RnB, Urban and more. His online mixing and mastering service, Virtual Mix Engineer, delivers musicians with superb sounding mixes which make impressions that count. Visit Scott at www.virtualmixengineer.com
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