Arts & Entertainment

Independent Groups: Stand Out From the Rest by Sounding Better

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For the independent artist, sounding amazing isn’t a luxury only available to big time artists anymore – it is a must. Music sales may have went down, but that doesn’t mean that recorded music is on its way out. Far from it. More music is being consumed on more devices by more fans than ever before in history! Artists are making their music available on internet and satellite radio, online music streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, and YouTube, selling on direct-to-fan sites such as CD Baby, Bandcamp, and ReverbNation, and still pushing sales through ‘traditional’ online retailers such as iTunes and Amazon MP3. Let’s face it, there is no excuse for an artist to put out sub-par recordings.

For some people, audio engineers are still an enigma. To others, they are ‘evil’ manipulators of sound, creating fake, auto-tuned, drones out of untalented artists. This, however, is far from the truth. Every record, no matter the genre, gets touched by a recording engineer, mixing engineer, and mastering engineer. The recording engineer utilizes many of microphones and technique to accurately capture and record the artist’s performance as it happens in the recording studio. The mixing engineer takes all of the separate audio tracks and crafts the music to sound convincing and convey the song’s emotion. He sets correct levels, panning, equalization, compression, and adds creative effects where possible to enhance the musician’s vision. Finally, the mastering engineer uses unique equipment and highly trained ears in an acoustically sound room to subtly polish and prepare the production for final release and ensure the music plays back well on a variety of playback systems. “While many audio techniques can enhance the final production, we engineers are not magicians and can’t replace a poor performance or terrible recording,” says Scott of Virtual Mix Engineer.

Recorded music is more often used as promotional vessel for artists. The most income these days is in live shows, publishing, sync placements, and merchandising. When a listener connects with a band’s music, they’ll listen to their music, tweet, and share the music with their friends. The fans want to help the artist and buy tickets to their shows, purchase apparel, and follow and interact with the artist through social media. As the musician grows in popularity, their music may be chosen for sync placements in film and TV, which not only provides great exposure, it also pays well. To make it to this stage however, it all begins with a great song and quality recording.

The rise of do-it-yourself recording has led to more bands releasing music than ever before. With a powerful computer, some mics, a DAW, and a little know-how, anyone can create and distribute music. One area where many musicians fall short is failing to recognize their weaknesses in audio engineering. An experienced engineer has the right gear, but most importantly the skills to make a recording reach its full potential. Though it can be hard for an artist, letting go and trusting your mixer will take your recordings to the next level and help you stand out from the crowd. Fans are instantly attracted to a well-written and performed song that sounds like a hit.

Spend the proper time in pre-production, ensuring your song and arrangement are as solid as possible. Then and only then, book time in the best studio you can afford to record your basic tracks. Hire a local or online mix engineer within your budget whose work and personality you like, and tweak the mixdown until you’re happy. Lastly, send the songs off to mastering for that final touch. Once your record is completed, you can get the music into multiple stores and into the phones and computers of your listeners and fans.Scott Horton is the definition of the contemporary mixing engineer/producer/songwriter. Scott has worked with countless music groups the world over in all musical genres ranging from Pop, Pop-Rock, Hip-Hop,RnB, Urban and more. His online mixing and mastering service, Virtual Mix Engineer, provides recording artists with superb sounding mixes which make impressions that count. Get in touch with Scott at This article is copyright protected.