How to produce and give everything space in the mix

When I started out as a music producer one of the most foreign concepts was mixing. I never knew what it was all I cared about was making music. As long as it sounded good to me I was ok. But as I developed my skill set and was exposed to the artist there was something else that was missing. Knowing how to create a good mix and to make a beat that an artist can write to and his vocals fit well with the beat.

6 things you need to know before producing your first album

Producing an album can be a scary process if you don’t know what you are doing. It can also get expensive without looking at the bigger picture.

In this post, are 6 things to consider when producing your first album.

  1. How many songs are going to put on the album

The first thing you need to determine is how many songs you want on the album. This will affect the production process as well as the final song selection. This can be decided by a number of factors.
How many songs do you plan to write before picking the final set? Will it be 15, to pick 8. 10 to pick the best 6. Or 30 – 40 songs to pick 12.

Another factor is, how long you want the album to last. 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes to an hour. You can use this to break down how many songs you will need to reach this goal.  This can contribute to the overall experience for your listeners.

The final factor is how long do you plan to spend on producing the album. If your timeline is short don’t do a lot of songs. If you’re working on a longer timeline then you can do whatever you want.

  1. What style of music are you going for?

This will determine how you promote your music, and the fans you want to target. A question to ask yourself is,  what is the genre are you working with? Could it be reggae, hip-hop, pop, EDM, country music, soca, and others. This will help narrow your focus and make your writing process easier. It should also blend with your musical brand and sound.

Identifying the genre you are doing helps to narrow the focus for where you will perform live, and the types of events you will do to maximize on the promotional aspect.
You don’t want to perform at a reggae festival singing country music. Unless you blend country with reggae.

  1. Which producer(s )do  you plan to work with

Now that you know what sound you’re going for, who is the best person to help you achieve that. This is the time you where you start to look for producers to work with. Not all producers are the same. Some work with specific types of music.

The other option is working with a band. If you have a band that can play the music you want you can direct them to achieve that.

The last option is buying beats. This involves purchase premade instrumentals from producers and writing and recording your songs over them.

  1. Where do you plan to do the recording

Do you plan to record all the songs at home? That’s if you have a home studio. This will work if you get tracks premade or buy beats and have a home studio to do all the recording.

The next option is to rent studio time and do everything there. This can get expensive really quickly if not managed properly. But you’ll get access to a variety of equipment that the studio has. That’s if its a commercial facility.

The final option is to record everything at the producer’s studio. This is great because the cost for recording will be built into the cost to produce the song. In the long run, would work out cheaper.

  1. Who is going to mix and master the album

Do you plan to work with an external engineer to mix and master the album? Well, you will have to consider costs, depending on the engineer you want to work with. the end should result in high-quality mixes. The downside is that if the engineer is well booked, chances are it may delay your project. The producer should advise you on that.

Some producers mix and master as well. So when choosing your producer, ask if they mix as well as master.

The next part of the process is choosing a mastering engineer. They will put the final touches on your album before you release the entire project for sale. Choose carefully because this will make or break your album.

  1. How much money you plan to spend on producing the album

How much money do you plan to spend on the entire album? At this point, costs should be worked out.  All the details like studio time to do recording, mixing and mastering and also how much the musicians charge to play the backing tracks. Look at the producer’s cost as well.

Once you know all these costs, you can decide how you will approach the album production process. It will also help to make a budget, and you should stick to it, and see where you can save money.

Conclusion

Taking the time to plan out your album can make the process easier. It will also help you save time and money, hence creating a set that best represents you.

How to record vocals if you don’t have a vocal booth

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The ability to record vocals was one of my greatest dreams as a producer. Because I didn’t want to be guy lock away in a room, making beats on his computer without seeing the light of day or interacting with anyone. I wanted to make full songs with artist and I wanted to have a space  I could call my own.

So the most logical step was to build a vocal booth and record artist. But there was one problem, I didn’t have the space to build the booth. Also, I don’t have a dedicated room to build a recording studio. So all the fancy videos of people showcasing their own space with panels on the wall and dedicated voice room just seem out of reach for me.

At that time I was still living in my parent’s house. I had limited space in my bedroom but I had a closet I could use, so I started researching on ways I could achieve my dream of recording vocals.

While researching solutions one of the main themes that pop up is an acoustic treatment for the room that will be used to record vocals. The larger the room the better was the recommendations by most persons on forums such as gearslutz and recordings.com among others.

For vocal recording to be effective the room has to be treated to reduce the amount of reverberation inside the room. So when you record the song, the vocals sound as dry as possible. The most recommended solution is that have a duvet or a thick rug behind the singer. This will allow for the audio bouncing off the walls to be absorbed. So these and other solutions were taken into consideration in my pursuit in 2010.

In order for you as a producer or singer/songwriter to record vocals, there are solutions available to you. From the DIY to the super expensive. All of which are geared at solving the acoustics issue when recording vocals in a small bedroom. Here are some ideas.

Closet with lots of clothes

This solution is free because once you have a closet with lots of stuff in it you can use it to record vocals. When I started recording, I used my closet to produce 3 – 4 compilations and lots of singles. When I released the tracks no one could tell that I used my closet.

To try this out, place your mic stand inside your closet with your condenser microphone. Ensure that behind and in front the singer that you have enough of your shirts and other garments that will be used to absorb the sound going into the microphone.

Sound Reflection filter

A recent option is the sound reflection filter. A lot of companies have their own variation which makes perfect sense. The device wraps around the microphone, it has acoustic foam secured inside a plastic which is secured unto the mic stand. The idea is when the singer sings, the sound going into the mic is absorbed and sound coming from the side and the back of the microphone is reflected away thus creating a dry vocal recording.

Gobo or portable partition

The last solution I want to share is the GOBO or portable partition. This is basically a moving acoustic panel. Recording studios use these panels to create a drum shield or to block band members from each other to do recordings.

You can build your own or buy one if you so choose. This involves creating a partition, placing acoustic panels on the partition and when you are ready to record you can pull it out set it up live a V, record your song and then pack it up when your done.

These 3 solutions are ideal to start with if you don’t want to build a full blown vocal booth. Hope these ideas help you in your recording pursuits.

Why Rehearsal is Important before recording



Vocalist and musicians are true to their craft. They work day and night practicing to getting better at singing and playing their instrument. If you incorporate practice into your daily routine you’re well on your way to mastering your instrument.


When approaching a recording project same dedication should be taken. That’s why rehearsals are important. They are not only for live performances. They’re for studio recordings as well. Here are some ideas on how to use  your rehearsal time before going into the studio


Work on song arrangement. It’s the best way to work on the fine details of the song. Work along with your producer to fine-tune the arrangement of lyrics and parts to make singing and playing the song easier and more in sync. Doing this saves you both money and time in the studio.  Also, it will help to bring more focus to the song.


Ensure all song sections complement each other and are not fighting for attention. Make sure no instruments are not playing in the same range to mask other parts. Meaning each instrument should play in their own range as well as leave room for vocals.


Test out ideas. Rehearsals should be both fun and technical. Don’t be static test ideas that you want to try, whether it’s a new melody line, a harmony section in the verse, a different drum beat. These ideas should either make the song sound better or worse. Keep a note of all the ideas you want to add to the song. It will be good to have a voice recorder to keep all your ideas together.


Best way to learn songs.  Practice is the best way to learn the song or songs by heart. Mastering it will give you more time to focus on the performance. If you practice like you’re on stage chances are when you get into the studio you already know how the song should sound, so singing it and playing the parts will be easy because you worked so hard on it during rehearsals.


Get better at playing them. Rehearsals help with your musicianship. The more you perform the better you get. The better you get the more confident you’ll feel. Confidence helps you give your all while recording because you know how to get the sound you want.

Knowing how to use your instrument takes practice. Practicing your songs makes you a better performer and a better professional to your craft. If you take rehearsals seriously and give it your all you’ll save both money and time.