In this blog I wanted to share some thoughts and advice about remixing, something I get asked a lot about by my students.
So, what’s the deal with remixing?
Once you've established yourself as a producer or made some good connections, another artist may ask if they can remix one of your tracks. If you agree to this you will need to send them audio ‘stems’ (an audio mix down of every track) via a file sending service such as we-transfer or drop box. Or another producer might like your own music and ask you to remix one of their tracks in your style.
Remixes can also work as an ice breaker for collaboration work - You can remix another artist’s track to see whether you have compatible styling’s and as a bonus you’ll also promo each other’s material. If you’re signed to a label, they may commission you to remix another artist* (usually also on the same label) or send the stems of an original piece to be remixed as I did for the EP below.
* Check your contract details for this as some labels will offer a lower percentage of royalties for remixes!
I’ll sometimes add real instruments to my electronic material (something we cover in EMP and EM & DJ practice courses here at SSR), which I did on my latest Cassini Division track, adding my own guitar and bass recordings. The remixes are by fellow label artists.
You can of course remix tracks you like without the stems, using EQ and other effects to isolate parts of the track and using a DAW sequencer to loop, chop and edit the track and maybe add your own parts to make it into something new. Working without stems can make life more difficult but this can be a fun way of doing a remix.
There is also the re-edit, which is the art of taking a track, looping/extending various parts and chopping it up or removing sections you might not like to create your own version of the song. Re-edits are also popular among DJs, working with tracks that might not be perfectly in time to make them easier to mix, or extending an intro/outro for the same reason.
Remixing is a great way to get you noticed as you may remix a commercial track or a favourite artist already listened to by a large audience, and can also give you fresh ideas or inspiration in writing your own material.
As well as remixing for labels and other artists I sometimes enter remix competitions. They’re often worth the effort with prizes of software and hardware as well as label signing opportunities. A good place for finding remix competitions is Beatport Play.
Beatport is the largest online resource for electronic music, sample packs and remixes.
There are of course many other sites for remix competitions. Just typing ‘remix competitions’ into Google will list a massive amount of results, so the key is to check the sites and the competitions themselves for quality of track, audio and prizes.
FOEM (Music Communication Agency) have a good site where you have to have an account and they release competition details by forum and e-mail.
You can also find lots of remix competitions on the website Remix Comps.
Make sure you read the competition rules before entering as they can sometimes differ. Some will allow you to showcase your remix on music promotion websites such as SoundCloud and MixCloud where as others will disqualify you from the competition if you do so.
Add your own style!
I always listen out for originality in a remixed piece. A good remix will include the core elements of the original track but with the personality of the remix artist clearly heard.