Everyone is always excited about their latest recording. To listen to a finished product is a great feeling, but how do you know that your final recording is doing its job? Did your song recieve a truly professional mix that industry professional will recognize as high quality content?
After spending the past fifteen years of my life producing music professionally, I began to notice some trends when it came to analyzing whether or not an artist’s recording was doing them any good in furthering their musical career.
Below are the top five signs that your recording is not as good as you think it is, plain and simple. This information is best used when evaluating your own recordings from the outside looking in.
If you see the signs of bad production in your music, don’t worry! Indie Rock Inc offers a free consultation to see if we can help you fix the problem with a professional mix.
1. Rival bands are not asking about your production team
Being a music artist means being a business. Just like any business, competitors (other bands) are always looking to beat each other out. When one business finds something new and innovative, you better believe the next is not far behind.
For example, Apple releases the iPhone and their competitors come out with similar devices months after. In music, a new producer comes along and has a hit record with a new band and then suddenly every major artist is releasing songs by that producer.
Think back to the last time a fellow musician asked you to listen to their music. What was your response? “Oh, that’s so great!” or “I really liked it!” But did you really like it? Was it really so great?
Now imagine the same musician sits you down to listen to their latest recording. They play it and this time, you truly believe its awesome. If you’re honest with yourself, you may even admit it tops anything you’ve recorded thus far. The icing on the cake is, you find out the musician will be using this new recording to apply for a slot in the upcoming summer music festival…maybe the same one you’re looking to book a slot in. At this point, I bet you’d like to know who that guy’s working with.
The same thing happens when someone hears your music and thinks it’s really phenomenal. They don’t tell you pleasantries like “oh yeah, that sounds great.” No, they ask who you worked with because they want a piece of that action for themselves. Bottim line. When musicians hear a professional mix, they take notice.
2. Your fans are not eagerly sharing your recordings with their friends
So you’ve convinced a great group of guys and gals from work or school to follow your band on a social network. They may even come out to your shows. Just like your musician friend above, they tell you how great your music is. Well, I mean, what exactly are they supposed to say? They have to say nice things, because to do otherwise is to be overly critical or unnecessarily opinionated.
So how do you know if they really like your records? Easy. They aren’t embarrassed to share your music with their friends.
Let’s reverse it again and turn the situation the other way around.
Envision the guy from work who’s trying to make it as a stand-up comic. Everyone from works goes out about once a month to have some drinks and watch him do his routine. He may even make you laugh a few times. But what happens when he sends out his latest “kinda funny” video as a facebook promotion. Do you quickly share it with your own social network like it’s the funniest thing ever? Probably not.
If your “fans” are not sharing your music, then it’s just not good enough. Fans share new music they love because they want to be associated with the artist. People like to say “I know that guy!”
Your support network will not be embaraced to share a professional mix of your latest single.
Once you’ve changed who you are or who you’ve portrayed in your music, the fans, they’ll catch it. Once I feel like the world knows me for anything else but my music, then I feel like I failed.
3. Promoters are not booking you when you submit your demo recording
There’s a lot of factors that come into play when a promoter looks to fill a live performance bill, but your music certainly plays a major role… especially if you’re a new band on the scene.
What’s the first thing a promoter does when he receives your EPK submission? Does he look at your pictures and think how much “the band looks like rock stars” or “their fashion sense is just so coooool” or “I need to book them right away because these pictures are amazing.”
Does he read your biography and think “WOW, this guys been playing guitar since he was three years old, that totally qualifies him be to be on stage (by the way, if you have included how long you’ve been playing your instruments in your bio, it reeks of amateur hour. Your band is expected to be full of professional musicians, you’re entertainers after all).” But I digress.
Let’s get real. The first thing the promoter does is hit play on your recording. You’ve got all of about 10 to 15 seconds to impress this guy or gal enough for them to keep listening and check out the rest of your EPK.
The purpose of a professional mix is to trigger the listener’s ear to immediately pick up on the fact that your music should be listened to.
4. You have not received a review of your recording by a national publication
Music journalists are fans just like you and I. No matter how many submissions they receive, when they hear something that peaks their attention, they write about it.
The journalists that go down in history are not the ones that just wrote about Jimi Hendrix or Radiohead, they were the ones that discovered them and wrote about them first. Great journalists are always on the lookout for great new talent. Being an independent artist without a huge following is not an excuse for not receiving reviews from major publications.
Music journalists receive hundreds of songs each day. Besides your presentation needing to be on point, your music can not have the slightest twinge of amature production.
While top journalists want to introduce the world to an artist they’ve never heard before, that artist’s recordings must also be ready for primetime. There is nothing that exemplifies these characteristics more than a high quality recording.
Here’s the simple formula for getting reviews with major publications:
Great Song + Great Production + Professional Mix + Great Presentation = Media Coverage
5. Your recordings have never been licensed to film or television
It’s been open season for independent artists to license their recordings to major film and t.v. productions for years now. It seems like every musician you meet has placed their music with a licensing company or has some other scheme to put their latest recording in a popular t.v. show.
This may have you thinking the market is so crowded that it is unrealistic to expect any sort of success and definitely not a normal source of income from music licensing.
Here’s the truth. The sea of low-quality recordings pushing themselves on music supervisors actually helps the artist that has really great material. It makes it easy for music supervisors to distinguish what artists they should be working with and which to trash.
Unfortunately for the music supervisor, they don’t get to place only the songs they like in the commercials, films, and t.v. shows they represent. There are actually many variables that come into play for each song that is to be licensed for the screen.
To name off a few of the big ones, you have the director’s input, the music editors temp track, and of course the available budget. The music supervisor’s job is to find recordings that put a checkmark next to all the variables of the particular project.
For example, the video content for a new movie about some hip young kids in the suburbs has just finished being edited. The director likes an indie rock/punk vibe for a particular scene. The music editor placed a song by Queens of the Stone Age (I know, neither indie rock or punk, but this type of thing happens every day) in the temp track. The director has fallen in love with the temp track and tells the music supervisor to go license that Queens of the Stone Age song for the movie.
Here’s the problem; the total music budget for the film is $100,000. There are 20 songs that need to be licensed. That averages out to $5000 a song. Well, the people that represent the Queen’s music (record label and publisher) are not flattered by the $5000 offer and refuse.
What is the music supervisor to do? You guessed it! License an independent artist who’s music has a similar vibe and feel to the Queens of the Stone Age track… and by the way… our friend the music supervisor better be quick about it because he needs to deliver fully licensed songs back to the music editor in less than two weeks.
After pouring through a library of submissions, crap recording here, crap recording there, the supervisor thinks, “WOW, none of these recordings can be held up against the Queen’s track.”
That is until your recording is found. It’s obviously leagues above the rest of the indie amateur hour artists, so the supervisor reaches out to you with an offer… and $5000 sounds pretty good to you!
After all is said and done, a few months from now, you can walk into a movie theater and listen to your music on the silver screen.
Moral of the story, the market is not saturated because most of the recordings out there are low-quality. If you have the high-quality recordings completed with a professional mix, your music will eventually get licensed.
Is it time for a Professional Mix?
You now have the top five signs that the quality level of your recordings is not up to professional standards.
Your music is the first thing that represents you to the world. If you don’t take a professional approach to it, how can you expect the outside world to view you as a professional?
The good thing is, with modern technology, you are able to send your song’s multitrack to a professional mixing engineer instantly!
In most of the cases I’ve been involved in, I have been able to deliver back to the artist a version of their song that has been taken to another quality level, production wise, entirely.
Why not review your current recordings with a professional mixer who can help determine if your music career could be drastically advanced by a professional mix of your material.
Click here to schedule a time to chat with me, Matt Salazar about your music and what’s needed to get your recordings to a place where they can actually benefit your career.