How to Stop Making Demos and Start Making Records
We’ve all listened to a recording and thought to ourselves that it sounded like a demo. When I think of demos I think of a recording that is designed to show what a song is at a fairly basic level. On the other hand, records are fully produced. They usually sound expensive even if they weren’t. You could hear it on the radio or on t.v. and it would fit in with other tracks’ quality level.
However you arrive there, the mission is improving the quality of the recording. That’s a pretty broad statement I realize. There are several ways to make that leap from making demos to making records. Let’s discuss some of them.
The first thing you’ll want to do is tighten up your performances. Preferably that’s through capturing a better take. If that isn’t possible then it will need to be edited into a better performance. This of course is part of the power that working in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) gives you. Depending on the instrument or voice will determine what tools you use to make this happen. Be careful not to edit the feel right out of your performance. It’s easy to do. If you don’t know how to edit or don’t like to this is a job that can be outsourced. This is a service I sometimes perform.
Another tactic is to make sure that your song arrangement is in line with the songs you’re trying to compete against. For example, if you have long intros and other songs in your genre all have super short intros that is something you’ll probably want to fix.
Adding production elements is something that can be done to keep the song’s momentum moving forward and keep the listener interested. I’m talking about things like atmospheric synths, loops, risers, drops, samples, etc. Listen closely to some of your favorite modern records and you’ll hear often hear this type of stuff is being used. Percussion elements can help improve the feel of a part for instance. Anything that makes it feel more like a rollercoaster ride is fair game.
Of course, mixing by a pro will make your tracks sound like a record. Generally the difference between what I’m given by a band (rough mix) and what I give back to them (final mix) is dramatic. The lesson here is give your mixer great raw tracks and you’ll get back even better mixes.
Perhaps the most fundamental way to insure you’re recording doesn’t sound like a demo is to improve your recording skills. There’s a link to sign up for my email list below where I will send you free recording tips each week.
If you haven’t already, make sure you sign up for my email list. I offer exclusive content, discounts and other goodies for my subscribers. Go to rockmixingengineer.com to subscribe. You’ll also get a free guide on recording heavy guitars and a sneak peak at my new recording course The Sound Visualization Method.
Also, in case you didn’t know, I mix singles, EPs, and Albums for Rock and Metal bands. You can check out my work and get more info at mattclarkmixer.com as well as get prices, etc.
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