For the independent recording artist, sounding great isn't a rarity only available to big time 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! 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 put out poor recordings.
For some people, audio engineers are still conundrum. To others, they are ‘evil' manipulators of music, creating false, auto-tuned, robots out of untalented artists. This, however, is far from fact. Every record, no matter the type, gets taken care of 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 happens in the recording studio. The mix engineer takes all of the separate audio tracks and crafts the music to sound great and convey the song's emotion. He sets correct levels, panning, equalization, compression, and adds creative effects where possible to complement the musician's vision. Finally, the mastering engineer uses special tools and highly trained ears in an acoustically sound room to subtly polish and prepare the song 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 musicians. The big dough these days is in converts, publishing, sync placements, and merchandising. When a listener connects with an artist's music, they'll listen to their records, tweet, and share the music with their friends. The fans want to help the artist and buy tickets to their concerts, purchase t-shirts, and follow and interact with the artist 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 very well. To make it to this stage however, it all begins with a great song and polished recording.
The rise of do-it-yourself recording has led to more artists releasing music than ever before. With a powerful PC, some mics, a digital audio workstation, and a little know-how, anyone can record and release music. One area where many musicians fall short is failing to recognize their weaknesses in mixing. An experienced engineer has the right gear, but most importantly the skills to make a production 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 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 strong 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 connect with, and tweak the mixdown until you're satisfied. Finally, send the songs off to the mastering engineer for that final touch. Once your recording is finished, you can get the music into multiple retailers and into the phones and computers of your listeners and fans.
Scott Horton is the ultimate example of today's contemporary mixing engineer/producer/songwriter. He has collaborated with an endless number of music groups 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, provides artists and record labels with industry standard sounding mixes which make impressions that count. Get in touch with Scott at http://www.virtualmixengineer.com
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