Some things can be corrected using technology, we call this process “fixing it in the mix”. It can be tempting to ask the producer to use his technological wizardry to fix small issues as it can save time recording more and more takes.
But, there are things that should not be fixed in the mix. Chopping up small audio parts within a guitar solo for example will take a long time and rarely sounds natural. Fiddling with vocal timing issues is another example of a 'fix' that can easy turn into a very time consuming task which rarely sounds natural. Moving syllables and time stretching a human voice rarely sounds authentic.
The simple truth is that you can't fix everything in the mix. Practice until you can nail it in the studio and avoid post recording fixes!!
Knowing the right people is extremely important, but unless your music is stupidly good they won't be able to help you. It'll cost about £1m for a major label to launch a new band and no matter how friendly they are with your contact, they're not about to blow a million!
That said, without having access to the decision makers you have almost no chance of being spotted in today’s over crowded industry. The internet has spawned a million “musicians” seeking exposure. If you are trying to separate yourself form the crowd we would suggest using a professional song pitching platform likewww.audiorokit.co.uk
3. A Rough Demo Will Do
It is very easy to think that a record label will hear potential in your music and make arrangements for you to go into a big studio and record it with a talented producer that they would recommend. This may indeed happen, but I have never seen it. My experiences with several publishing companies has taught me that they want finished tracks, even if they don't admit it.
So why would this be? Well, my best guess is that until a song is fully produced it is impossible to know if it will have that “something special” that'll make it a hit. In other words, a song that sounds great as a rough demo doesn't necessary mean it will sound awesome when produced. So, at the end of the day, music companies need to hear the finished product to limit risk and uncertainty.
With that said, I still believe that talented A&R will spot a great song in rough demo form. It's just a lot safer to spend some money on your best songs and make sure they are fully finished and fully produced before sending it to industry.
4. Modern Technology Can Make Anyone Sound Good
That is a myth. Modern technology can auto-tune anyone, but great singers have much more going for them than simply singing in tune. Currently there is no software that can adequately enhance a singers tone. I have always said that a great tone is way more important than singing in tune because the later is so easy to correct in the mix!
Other human qualities that can not be fixed include air behind the notes that you sing, presence and control of the notes as well as timing. I have spent hours trying to make some singers sound half decent using every bit of technology at my disposal, but not been satisfied. Conversely, I have worked with singers who sound great straight away with absolutely no enhancement needed.
5. Bigger Recording Studios Produce Better Results
Bigger recording studios typically have more gear, but great gear doesn't make music sound good, the producer does! Having more space, more microphones and a receptionist is neither here nor there, you should ask yourself who the producer is and what he/she can do with the gear. Understand your equipment inside and out is vital to getting the best results in the studio.
Put simply, there are some top producers could do more with a single old keyboard than other producers could do in a £1000/day studio. If I were advising any musician I would say your priority list should be;
1. Develop your voice
2. Get a great song
3. Find a great producer
4. Network and play your song to anyone who'll listen
6. Chart Music Is Rubbish
Many people feel that chart music is rubbish. But, very often when you try and create something similar you'll realise that there is nearly always something good about it. In other words, there is some talent needed at some point!
Rather than disregard any song as rubbish, it can be a great learning experience to try and find something that you respect about a song. I may hear a song that has awful lyrics, very average vocals and an annoying bleeping sound that's too loud, but it'll have fantastic energy or a great little idea that is catchy.
It's very rare that I hear a commercially released song that has absolutely nothing going for it at all. Sometimes it's just the mood of the song that works, technically and creatively it may be crap but the “feel” of the song is very distinctive.
7. Recording Is Always Expensive
Recording can be expensive, but that it typically because musicians and bands do not prepare in the right way. If you practice a song over and over before booking a studio everyone in the band should know exactly what they are playing.
Once in the studio you are paying by the hour so will be glad of all the prior practice. You should be able to nail your parts in one or two takes because you've practiced thoroughly. In theory an hour or two is enough to record all the instruments and vocals. Mixing should take about an hour.
This is highly ambitious I know, but it is possible to record a song from start to finish in much less time than is typically expected in a recording environment, especially if everyone is focused and the producer is aware that you intend to move very quickly from instrument to instrument.
8. My Manager Will Take Care of Important Things
A good manager will indeed take care of important things. But all too often music managers do little, if anything at all for their clients in the amateur circuit. It becomes obvious why this is the case if you look at it from the managers point of view. An unsigned band will struggle to make much money, so the manager is effectively working for free.
Managers who work for free tend to be amateur or hobbyists who want to learn the ropes. There is nothing wrong with this but it's very common for an enthusiastic manager to quickly get bored of not making any money (which is understandable) and therefore render themselves useless to the cause. My advice, don't rely on anybody to take care of the important things, not even a “manager”.
9. Industry Professionals Don't Care About Grammar
I have sat in A&R meetings and heard industry professionals comment that an artists cover letter has bad spelling. I have also been with producers who have received emails from singers with such poor grammar that the producer didn't bother replying. You may not think it, but grammar is very important.
Why? Bad grammar and spelling shows laziness and poor attention to detail. Unfortunately, to have any success in this industry you can not be lazy or ignore detail. I receive emails everyday from aspiring singers and rappers and poor grammar grates with me I must admit. I feel that if a person can not be bothered to spell check or format a letter properly then they are not taking themselves or their career seriously.
I received this via email yesterday;
i wnt to record n think u shud get onbord as my mate n me have something specal what. can you do for 2morw fro studio let me no . yeah Not befor 3 but my mate know.
This is an extreme example but shows that English classes at school can (in some degree) help your music career!
10. You Can Do It All Yourself
There is good reason why all the famous bands you know have record company backing, a PR company, a manager, a tour manager, a booking agent and many more experts in their team. You simply can not do everything and compete on a professional level.
Moby is a multi-platinum recording artist and a great talent, but not so great as to say that he has an exclusive right to musical success!
In fact, there were many talented emerging artists around at the time Moby was trying to develop his music career. So, why did Moby achieve so much success whilst his peers achieved none?
Moby once said that he believed his success over his peers was due to the fact that he recognised he can not do everything himself. Whilst other bands were handing out leaflets, booking their own gigs and releasing their own records, Moby concentrated on building relationships with experts in each field (managers, booking agents etc).
A year on, he had a team who were willing to help him whilst his peers were still handing out flyers and trying to get their own gigs.
The key was knowing where to put his energy and Moby decided that a DIY approach (doing everything himself) was not the best way to move his career forward.