The title says it all. I’ll start with a short story, 10 years ago I was asked to create a song for a TV show in Tel Aviv. After sending the song back to the network the response
I got back was “we like it, but something doesn’t feel right.” There’s not a lot you can do with comment like that, but I had the same feeling before I sent the song and couldn’t put my finger on the issue.
Then it hit me; I went back to the studio, opened the project and raised it by 2 BPMs and sent it back to the network. They now loved it. I think this was the first time in my career I started to focus on BPM and key changes. Don’t get me wrong – you need to have a good song, production, recording, and mix first. Key changes and BPM changes are not going to solve all of the above, but they can make a good song flow better. In the case of key changes, they can make a song sound and vibe entirely differently.
I suggest you check your BPM and key pretty early into the production – maybe an hour into the production.
The more you wait, the harder it is to change the key later without re-recording some of the vocals or instruments. For example, if you raised the key, the singer may need to belt or sing in falsetto, if you lowered the the key, they will need to move into their lower register. Keep in mind when you raise or lower the key, the recorded audio might sound weird and unnatural, so you may need to re-record some of the parts. This makes it even more important to determine the key early on if possible. On the other hand, a shift of 1-3 BPMs can generally pass smoothly with the stretching technologies built into modern DAWs.
Another note to remember, key and BPM changes will affect the dynamic response of a mix, especially key changes: Raising the key will usually sound brighter, while taking the key down will make the track sound deeper. Raising the BPM will make take away some of the low end, while taking the BPM down will create more room for low frequencies.
Last but not least, how fast or slow a song sounds to you also depends on the system you’re using and your state of mind. For example, late hours can make songs sound faster and the use of substances can make big changes to how you perceive a song as well, so it’s best to sober up before you do your final export.
I’m writing on this topic because often when new artists come into a studio setting for the first time, they’re confused about the differences between music producers and engineers. It’s essential that artists know the difference between the two so that they can manage expectations and know the right questions to ask when calling a studio or producer. Artists also don’t want to be in the position to waste time or money, or worse, not get the result they are after.
asian popular DJ working in radio broadcasting studio or music producer working in recording studio
A music producer’s job is pretty broad, but in short a music producer is the person responsible for either creating the beat/track, or the instrumental/arrangements around your existing song (“song” = your melody + your lyrics). A lot of music producers are also composers and\or songwriters, and can assist in the creation of melodies and\or writing lyrics, though that’s not necess
arily a role a producer fills. If an artist requires assistance in songwriting, they should ask before booking a session to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of their respective contributions to the songwriting process.
A recording engineer is the person in charge of recording the instruments and vocals, they are not there to help write melodies, lyrics, or help with the production or arrangements, though most engineers these days in the digital era are both music producers and recording engineers.
A mixengineeris responsible for mixing songs (obviously) and that basically just means taking the stems from an existing final production and processing them – blending all the parts to get them working together to make the song sound as good as possible. Stems are the individual tracks from a recording sessions, for example the kick drum as a separate track, the snare as a separate track, separate tracks for bass, guitars etc…) More separation is usually better for a mixengineer since a good engineer will use their processing abilities to create a professional-quality recording that is ready for radio, licensing, and digital distribution.
Mixengineers are the ones applying compressors, EQ, reverb, delay etc., though these can be also be used as part of the production. If you’ve ever been in a session with a music producer, you probably saw them use plugins like EQs and reverbs compressors.
Not all processing is created for mixing purposes, there are 2 types of processing:
–Mixing (as discussed above)
-creative purposes, for example, a producer will EQ to create a radio effect or will use a lot of reverb to create a huge sound as part of a creative decision vs as a mixing decision. Extreme processing can change the sound from a creative point of view, whereas a mixengineer is not charged with changing an artist’s sound creatively. Mixengineers are focused on getting your stems sound better together to match broadcast quality. Producers will often export the stem to include creative plugins, otherwise the mixengineer might not know it was there or how to recreate it.
Producers can also create a demo for the mixengineer to help him/her with a reference. In 2019 with all the new available technology, a certain degree of mixing is part of the production process, most music producers have basic knowledge on how to mix. Producers use that knowledge to help the mixengineermake the right decisions by providing a reference track for the eventual final mix. It’s easier for the mixengineer to have the reference and mix in a way that mirrors the reference, but with a focus on a final, cleaner broadcast-quality recording.
Another important fact you should be aware of is that a lot of people these days can be music producers, recording engineers and mixing engineers, or a combination of all three, though a lot of people think they are equally skilled in all of the above but may not be as skilled at all roles. Producing music requires a lot of talent; with a few years of experience you can be a pretty good music producer if you have the natural talent. Being a mix an engineer, however, requires a different set of skills; the ability to mix a song to a point where it is balanced correctly and sounds clean requires years and years of experience working with the right equipment and the right acoustic
environment. It’s extremely difficult for younger or inexperienced music producers to hear where they went wrong on a mix. Therefore, for many producers, it’s imperative that they or the artist hire a differentmixengineer to get the best sound possible.
Before an artist picks their next music producer \ recording studio \ engineer, it’s important that they be aware of the differences and ask the right questions. It’s even more importantly to listen to a producer’s work ahead of time and investigate if they were the ones producing and mixing the works they liked as sometimes producers will showcase work they didn’t mix and vise-versa.
“I Can’t Be Drowned” is a dynamic anthem that empowers the listener to stand up for themselves, to not let anyone take what is rightfully theirs. Featuring powerful, forceful vocals by Mia Mormino, “I Can’t Be Drowned” is sung with the type of fury that’s relatable to anyone that’s faces obstacles head-on. Hamster’s style of dexterous, cinematic production adds strength to Mia’s resolve. Indie-electro beats compliment Mia’s melodic vulnerability as she finds her inner determination and power.
“Can’t Be Drowned” was produced recorded and mixed by LA music producer Raz Klinghoffer
Although he appeared in the LA music scene in 2016, Hamster has been bubbling up in the music industry for nearly a decade as a respected producer. Hamster’s songs are an organic, groovy mixture of experimental electronic, indie and pop genres overlayed with gorgeous vocals. Hamster’s debut music video, “City Limits,” went viral, peaking at #8 on Spotify’s US Viral Chart (#46 globally) with over 1.4 million views on YouTube. His last single, “Invincible,” was heavily supported by Spotify including landing on the following official curated lists: New Music Friday Norway, Hits Don’t Lie, New Music Friday Denmark, Uuden Musiikin Lista (NMF Finland), New Music Friday Canada, and New Music Now.
Hamster has also received 14K+ Shazams from his recent TV placements (Netflix ‘Insatiable’, NBC’s ‘Shades of Blue’) and was also recently featured on Apple Music’s “Best of the Week” playlist.
It seems like everyone and their husband are music producers these days. Since there’s no accrediting bodies for music producers, mix engineers, or recordings studios (which means certificates of training are not required), unfortunately for all of us, it’s perfectly okay to go around claiming you are one even when you lack the expertise and experience. Unlike other professional fields (e.g. lawyers or doctors) that need to be accredited and certified, working in the music industry requires nothing of that sort. The challenge is figuring out where to invest your money.