Today we are talking about 1o truths of the music industry! I have seen a few of these points on other channels as separate 15 or 20 minute videos, and I have covered a couple of them myself, but I wanted to compile them all into one place for you.
All of these tips are also available as a cheat sheet for you to download! Click here to download the 10 Truths of Recording & Mixing Cheat Sheet!
1. Yes, volume makes a difference!
For those of you who are old enough to remember the old tuners, that you would play a record player through it, you will remember that there was a loudness button on it, and what that loudness button did is it would boost the low end. This button was particularly useful at low volumes because when you listen to a signal really quietly, you don’t get the low end and the frequencies seem out of balance.
The reality is, that when you turn a signal up, it is perceived as sounding better. When you turn a signal down, you hear the high mids, and high end, but when you turn it up it starts to get a little fuller and more exciting. Volume adds to a perceived improvement in the sound.
2. There is more than one way to create drum sounds.
I have recorded drums using only 1 mic, but also with 2 or 3 or 4, all the way up to 13 mics or more! However, in my experience, you can have any amount of mics, in any room, but it was the drummer that carried it the whole time.
When you are dealing with a few instruments, a small amount of microphones can do an amazing job. But when you have a very dense recording, layering keys, multiple guitar parts, bass, strings, and everything else, you will want individual control over the kicks, snares, overheads, etc. You want to have multiple mics on your drum kit so that you can have that control so you can shape the drum sound for different parts of the song.
Just because you can record drums with only 3 mics, and it sounded great on one song, doesn’t mean it is the only way to do it, or the right way for your track.
3. Just because you know one way to record, doesn’t mean that’s the only way.
Just like how we were talking about how there is more than one way to record drums, this principle applies to your whole recording.
I know a lot of people who are really great at doing one thing, and then they want every band/artist to fit into that one way of working. However, having only one way of working really is doing a disservice to the client. You need to be flexible and know how to record a wide variety of sounds.
If you only have one way of working and the artist you are working with doesn’t fit into that, you are going to have a lot of tension and you won’t get the results you want. Your artist will end up being very dissatisfied with their recording! You need to learn and adapt and be accepting of many different techniques, not just the easiest and quickest solution.
The beauty of having access to digital technology is we can do anything, and mimic any sound we want. So take advantage of all this wonderful technology and learn how to create different sounds and produce different genres so you can bring out the best in your artist and your recording.
4. There is more opportunity now, not less.
The music industry I came up in was either feast or famine. It seemed like you were either making a lot of money making music, or you were making nothing. Some people say that the music industry sucks now because people aren’t making as much money as they used to. But the reality is that up until about the 1990’s, although producers and engineers may have been making more money per project, there were only a handful of people making that money!
Budgets for bands were bigger, and a producer or engineer may have made more for that project, but unless you were a part of the small, elite group that was working with the big bands, chances are you weren’t making anything from music.
Today, however, with DAWs, and all the new technology and the rise of home studios, making records is much more accessible. People who would never have been able to make money making music before, are now able to make a living from it! The accessibility of recording equipment and technology has levelled the playing field and really helps you be competitive in the industry.
The industry may have changed, but there is a lot of opportunity out there!
5. There is more than one way to mix drums!
If you are going to mix drums, you need to mix them for the song, for the artist, and for the genre, and remember there is no one way to do it. Learn all the different techniques and make sure you know how to get the sound you are looking for.
Also, don’t be afraid to use samples! Some people will say that you should not use samples, but the reality is, sometimes no amount of EQ, compression, or anything else will shape your drum sound into what you are looking for, and you need to add a sample to get it to sound right!
At the end of the day, the people who buy the records are not going to complain about whether or not you used samples, all they hear is the end result!
So learn a variety of different techniques for mixing drums and do what you need to do for that song, artist, or genre!
6. The best gear is the gear you know.
You are better off getting to know the equipment you have than buying all the newest and “best” gear. It is so much more important that you know how your mics sound and all the subtle differences between them, than to constantly be buying new ones because you think that one might be “better”.
Get to know your gear so you know which mic is the best vocal mic, which one might be best for a specific singer, and how to use the gear you have to produce a great song.
And the same goes for DAWs! If you know your DAW inside and out, it doesn’t matter which one you are using.
We know that the best music ever made really has nothing to do with the gear that was used to make it. It is the song, the performance, and the production behind it that make it great. It doesn’t matter what DAW it was mixed through or how expensive the mics on the recording were!
7. Creativity is King!
With all of the artists that we have been looking up to for decades or all the great artists of today, what makes each of them stand out is that they are creative. They sound different from anything we have ever heard!
Every time a new artist walks in the door, they are bringing in a new perspective, and your job is to capture that. Through the entire session, work with your artists, help them develop, and let their creativity flourish!
8. The performance is more important than the recording process.
The performance will always beat any recording quality.
When the Beatles were recording their albums, they were putting out an average of 2 albums a year, so they did not have time to sit and play with a bunch of different mics. Instead, they just used what was already plugged in and it is the performance and the creativity that is most important and what made their music so great!
Sometimes the best performance is the one that is slightly distorted or has some clipping, but that performance is more important than whatever issues the recording may have or the gear you are using. It is more important to capture the performance than to spend an hour or longer auditioning a bunch of different microphones. If you have time, then this is great, but if when you’ve got a bunch of artists in a room and they want to put their ideas down, you just use the microphone that is plugged in, and capture that fantastic performance!
9. You need to work with intention and focus.
When you start to record, think about the sound you are trying to record, and the end result you are trying to get to.
Use references if you need to! Find something that you are inspired by, and it will keep you focused on what you want to do. Remember that creativity is still king, so if along the way you deviate from that original reference, that is okay, but just hoping that you find the direction along the way is not a good strategy.
Follow the muse and let yourself follow where the artist is taking you, but start with intention!
10. The song always comes first.
I have some videos coming out about some really great songs where the production is amazing, and that production has taken the song and elevated it. With those songs, though, you could also just give that artist a piano or an acoustic guitar and it would still be a great song.
And, on the other side of this, production can just as easily ruin a song!
Either way, you need a great song to start with, so all of your attention should start with that and work your production around the song. Production can make a song into a smash hit, but it had to be a great song in the first place!
Watch the video below to learn more about these 10 truths of the music industry!