The first step in getting a great mix is to capture a great performance of a great song.
The recording / tracking stage is critical because that's when we actually get to make music.
Assuming your song is solid, the goal now is to capture a clean recording of you and/or others performing it. Forget about all of the things that can go wrong and focus instead on a few small things that can go a long way in getting better-sounding records you can feel good about and that your audience can get excited about.
Making music is supposed to be fun—at least that's why most of us get started in the first place—but recording your music is not always easy, and getting great tracks that convey the right amount of energy and emotion for the song is often something you have to work for, even years after your first recording experience.
Ideally, a knowledgeable engineer can handle the technical side of things while you focus instead on making the music. If you have to wear both hats, at least be mindful of which role you need to play and when. If the red recording light is on, do everything you can to just be the music guy or gal in that moment.
Whether you're tracking in your home studio or in a professional space, you want to come in prepared without being over-rehearsed. You always want to leave some room for the magic to happen and you definitely want to be ready to capture it before it's gone.
Sometimes we have to make adjustments to our gear, to the song, or simply to our thought process in order to get around whatever's preventing us from getting the sound we hear in our heads but can't seem to conjure from the recorded tracks that day.
Some changes may not be so little, depending on your workflow, mindset, or resources. Nothing about making art applies to every artist, and that's the fun part of being a music-maker.
Some of the items below can be considered production choices while others might already be a no-brainer for some. Since more and more artists are taking a DIY approach with making their music, it never hurts to be reminded of what is possible and to always be open to discovery. Sometimes one little change can be what elevates an otherwise average recording.
If you find any of these helpful, please share on social media or within your musical circles. I'd love to hear about any other little changes you've discovered that really helped your tracks. Tell me about your music!
get thoughts on music-making & making music thoughtful
we respect your privacy