If your band isn’t playing in front of hundreds of people overtime you go out on stage, you need to follow some basic rules. Here are the top three most important and common mistakes that we find at SoundBurst Studios that most bands are making today when they are trying to get their music to market.
3. RUNNING BEFORE WALKING
If the band your in isn’t playing in front of hundreds of people every time your out on stage, try to develop the following first. Release a Single or an EP instead of a full length CD first is a much better option. So many bands want to run before they walk. Yes, I get it your band has songs that need to get out there. But, it is hard to get exposure when you are asking people to listen to 14 plus songs. What you think is the best song on the full length CD often the consumer does not. This direction is a much more convoluted path. Build your fan base before going for the full length CD. Those are for bands that have big followings. It may take a few free releases before you are making money, but a steady movement forward is better than running as fast as you can head first into a brick wall. It is a hard business to crack into; steady growth is what you are looking for. The more computers you can land your music on the better. It takes time for people to become familiar with your band and your songs. The music consumer needs to hear your songs a few and sometimes many times before they start looking for more of your music. When your songs are in their music libraries it is usually forever, they could listen to your band for a year or two then decide to look for more of your music. Try to think of quality over quantity. Again, pick a single release it; get it on as many peoples playlists as possible, even if it means getting it out there for a free downloading. Join groups on Facebook and post it, and if it is recorded, mixed, and mastered properly they will download it providing it is written and performed well. Be professional on all levels.
However, unfortunately most bands practice a method that if it doesn’t sell in the first month they will stop focusing on it and move on to their next release all while making the same mistakes over and over again. It is a lot of work doing the promotion but give it time, there is a lot of music out there for the consumer to listen to, but be professional on every level.
2. NOT ENOUGH ATTENTION TAKEN IN THE RECORDING PROCESS
Not paying attention to background noises such as fans, cars, people talking, buzzes from fluorescent lighting, airplanes etc. All of this will find it’s way into your mix giving you a less than a professional overall mix. Recording is not a party, having lots of friends over to watch is nice but they often are walking around eating, sometimes drinking and getting loud in the background. I have had a live microphone on and listening to a friend of the band running a microwave from the kitchen at the same time I was trying to track the lead vocals! Yes, I did stop and wait so the microwave sound did not find it’s way into the mix. But, they just don’t realize what is being picked up by the microphone. Also very important, the least amount of distractions will always pay off, It is better to have the party when the recording session is over.
Read up on microphone placement and proper gain staging. If you are on a low budget a Shure SM 57 microphone (pictured) is one of the best values around for a good all around microphone. It can be bought for about $90.00 and nothing beats it for the money and versatility. Guitars, drums, vocals the SM 57 is a great microphone for the money. Also always use new strings on the guitars, new drum heads on the drums and a new battery for the guitars.
1. MIXING IT YOURSELF
You need a trained professional to do this. It is the biggest killer of new music out there. Almost every band has a member or a friend who has some recording gear, an interface and a computer. I get it you want free, and who doesn’t want to save money? However your band member or friend doing the mix most likely does not have the training, the proper listening environment, and skills to accomplish a pro-level mix. Ask your mix engineer this, are you familiar with
Sidechain Compression, or Mid/Side Equalization? Think, does your mixing engineer have the proper knowledge of the mixing gear that they are using to do the mix? Whether it is software based or hardware it takes training. You need a person who is not close to the band with an unbiased and a trained ear for this stage of the process to work. There are so many other very important techniques that go into making a solid well balanced mix too, but you get the point. If this stage of the process is unsuccessful then all of the work that your band has put into the release up to this point is usually wasted, the end product is now unmarketable. If you skimp on this very important process it becomes a nice demo that the band’s family members and friends will listen to, and that’s as far as it goes. The bigger more popular bands that have major releases dropping all know all this very well, this is why it can a couple of months of mixing and mastering before their music gets to market.
Don’t be a dreamer, I know of a bands that has tons of great gear, and the guitar player has six beautiful guitars. He tells me that they are going places and the new full length CD drops this weekend. I say great, then I listen to the CD and it was mixed by the bass player and he did a mix that simply will not make it. Plain and simple, having six guitars are nice, but getting radio play is far nicer and more important for the band’s success. Without media exposure it just not going to happen, this band is dreaming if they think that the music isn’t worth the investment of having it mixed professionally.
Once a song is released into the music market, if it is not recorded, mixed and mastered properly most likely it will need to be re-done then re-released on a later date. It is not good having multiple versions out there because this leads to a more convoluted path for your fans to follow you. You do not want some songs released that sounds like demos, and other versions of the same song released sounding pro-mixed, doing this is actually counter productive and not being professional on all levels.
The mixing engineer is as important as any member of your band. Your band members all play specific instruments tailored to their experience and expertise. Think of the mixing engineer as a band member, audition them much like a band member, they should have a mix portfolio for you to hear, if they don’t I would question their skills. Most likely you will have to pay for the mix engineers services, he is doing you an important service, also as your band climbs the charts the record labels supporting your band will likely use several different mix engineers. The bigger more popular bands can use ten or more different mix engineers throughout the entire process, it really depends on who is producing your future songs. So you will and should have to pay for the mix engineer’s services. But, it is well worth it, without a professional mix it is nearly impossible to get your music into the market. You need to gain market attention to get big label and Independent label attention. If you are releasing a larger quantity of self mixed songs with the strategy of hoping that something will stick, over a smaller amount of very high quality professionally mixed songs you are only shooting yourself in the foot. Think of being professional on every level, and hope is not a strategy.
Drew Puzia is a multi-award winning Mix Engineer at SoundBurst Studios in Las Vegas. Drew is certified in Audio Engineering from the world renowned Berklee College of Music. His experience spans over three decades in the music industry and he has recorded and mixed countless musicians in many genres of music.