Writing music can be difficult, and just as no two songs are alike, the process to create a song is different every single time. There are no right or wrong ways to write music, the end product is all that matters.
Here are a few tips when writing songs:
- Write often and write everything down; A bad idea this week can be inspiration for an amazing idea next week
- If you are stuck at a section just move on to the next and come back to it
- Demoing songs prior to hitting the studio can be extremely helpful
- Collaborating with other writers is a fantastic way to find new writing tools and inspiration, even if all you learn is “what not to do”
- Writing your songs in the studio or punching freestyles in line by line is generally very time consuming, expensive, and often degrades the writing and performance quality…. and it COSTS A LOT!
Creating instrumentals is only one small part of being a “Producer”. A professional producer is a creative specialist that uses musical expertise and creativity to oversee the development of a song from start to finish.
When you hire us Derek Benjamin Music for production, we will always strive to do what’s best for your project. We can provide a wide variety of production styles depending on the project, such as:
- Full spectrum of production services from writing assistance to mastering and distributing
- Studio musician hiring and organizing (we have a long list of fantastic local musicians to cover almost any instrument!)
- In house instrumental production
- We work with a number of freelance beat-makers that we can bring in for your project
NOTE: Production is a creative service. Our staff do not have to take on a project if it doesn’t align with their sound or vision. Artistic chemistry between an artist and producer is important and if either party doesn’t feel that it will be a beneficial arrangement, a different situation should be sought out.
Once your song or project is ready, it’s time to track!
Recording demo versions of your song prior to booking a studio session is always helpful. Whether you have recording equipment, use a cell phone, or have us come record a rehearsal, having a demo that you can evaluate before committing it to a recording is extremely helpful.
When it comes to the recording process, everyone does things slightly different. It can take a few sessions for your engineer to get to know your sound, recording style and communication style. You can find more details in our Booking Guidelines, but here are a few tips to brush up on:
- Recording time is generally booked by the hour or by the day
- Book in advance and make sure that your material is properly prepared and rehearsed
- Make sure that your instrumentals and recording content is prepared and deliverable via USB stick or by email (prior to the session)
- Show up on time; The session time you book is the time you are billed for. If you are late, you will lose that time
- Bring a hard drive with you to take any RAW recordings. We backup all of our work as a courtesy, but in the case of data loss, we are not responsible for the loss of recorded audio files
- Before your session, try not to consume any dehydrating drinks or substances. Being hydrated will help reduce mouth noises and preserve your voice
Once you hit the studio, there are a few things to keep in mind. Picking the right microphone and signal chain is extremely important. Plan for at least 20-30 minutes of mic shootout, setup and adjustment time.
Editing is an often overlooked, but extremely important part of music production.
Engineers are often editing rapidly during recording sessions, which the artist can be unaware of. As an artist or client, it’s important to understand that an engineer is always multi-tasking. They will be analyzing your style, timing, pitch, performance, tone and much more. All of this information guides the engineer on how to edit and compile your recordings.
When it comes to tuning & pitch, there can be vast differences stylistically between genres and individuals. Some artist’s use natural pitch correction, some use auto-tune, some use both and some use none! We are often hired to do vocal tuning freelance work. If you are interested, let us know!
When editing timing, Some people prefer their doubles and layers to be as tight as possible, and some prefer natural timing. There are plugins like Vocalign that assist with quick alignment, or the editing can be done by hand.
Breaths can be subjective! Breaths need to be controlled, but removing them completely typically leaves the vocal feeling unnatural. A good engineer will control the breaths, without removing them completely.
Background noise is generally always stripped away when possible, although some elements may require the background noise as an effect, like a phone conversation, etc.
Instrumentals can also be edited and improved upon. Whether you are self-producing and need editing assistance, or the instrumental you purchased needs re-arranging or edits, we can help you get it to where it needs to be. Generally trackouts/stems are required.
If you have a particular tuning, timing or editing style that you want to achieve, make sure to provide your engineer with examples!
Mixing is the practice of working with the individual elements of the recording to turn it into a cohesive, clean and balanced song that’s provided to the Mastering Engineer as a stereo audio file
The main elements of mixing:
- Balancing volumes between elements
- Gain staging; adjusting plugins and track gain to properly situate volumes relative to the master track
- Equalizing (EQ); adjusting tone and balancing frequencies for a natural, clean or effected result
- Compression; controlling dynamics both on individual elements and bus tracks or effects
- Automation; using programmable changes to parameters over the length of the song
- Effects; plugins applied to tracks or busses like reverb, delay, chorus, stereo width, distortion, etc.
Mixing is a very creative service. An engineer will have their own ideas and tendencies that may or may not align with the artist’s vision. Part of being a good mixing engineer is the ability to analyze the artist and adapt the mixing strategy to their style and preferences. Sometimes the first mix version can feel off, but that’s a normal part of the process. If proper reference material is provided, the amount of revisions can be reduced and the perfect mix can be achieved much faster.
When we send our first mix versions, we supply revision guidelines that walk you through the process, making the revision process easier and more enjoyable!
Mastering can be a dark art to some. It is in fact a critical step in the process. The stereo mix provided by your mixing engineer is adapted to a loud and properly formatted final audio file.
Main elements of a Master:
- Compression & limiting; Make the recording LOUD, while preserving the intended dynamics
- Overall Equalizing (EQ); Shape the overall tone and clarity of the song
- Stereo Imaging; making sure that the song is in phase and will represent well in the stereo field
- Start/End of the track and fade ins/outs
- Project or Album loudness balancing and tone matching
- Labeling & Codes
Perhaps the most important part of mastering is the “second set of ears”. When a mixing engineer works on a song for hours on end, they can start to lose the ability to hear the song clearly or with a fresh perspective. Having another trained ear go over your work can be a very beneficial process.