For the independent musician, sounding good isn't a rarity only available to well-funded artists anymore - it is a requirement. Music sales may have tapered, 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 fans than ever before in history! Artists 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 release sub-par recordings.
For some people, audio engineers are still conundrum. To others, they are ‘evil' manipulators of sound, creating phony, auto-tuned, machines 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 a plethora of microphones and technique to accurately capture and record the artist's performance as it occurs in the recording studio. The mix engineer takes all of the separate music tracks and crafts the music to sound convincing and convey the song's emotion. He sets proper levels, panning, EQ, compression, and adds special effects where needed to enhance the musician's vision. Lastly, the mastering engineer uses specialized gear and highly trained ears in an acoustically accurate room to subtly polish and prepare the track for final release and ensure the sound plays back well on a variety of speakers. "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 real money currently is in touring, publishing, sync placements, and merchandise. When a fan connects with a band's music, they'll listen to their records, comment, and share the music with their friends. The fans want to help the artist and buy tickets to their shows, purchase t-shirts, and follow and interact with the group through social media. As the musician grows in popularity, their music may be chosen for sync placements in film 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 convincing recording.
The rise of DIY recording has led to more musicians releasing music than ever before. With a powerful laptop, some microphones, a digital audio workstation, and a little knowledge, anyone can create and release music. One area where many musicians fall short is failing to recognize their weaknesses in audio engineering. An experienced engineer has the right equipment, 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 productions to the next level and help you stand out from the others. 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 solid as possible. Then and only then, book time in the best studio you can afford to record your basic tracks. Hire a local or online mixing engineer within your budget whose work and personality you like, and tweak the mix until you're happy. Lastly, send the songs off to the mastering engineer for that final touch. Once your record is complete, you can get the music into multiple sites and into the phones and computers of your listeners and fans.
Scott Horton is the ultimate example of today's cutting-edge mixing engineer/producer/songwriter. He has collaborated with countless music groups world-wide 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 great sounding mixes which make impressions that count. Get in touch with Scott at http://www.virtualmixengineer.com
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