Isn’t your music getting reactions on social media and IRL? 3 tips to make you stand out from the masses
Wouldn’t it be nice if your music would get plenty of positive feedback along with comments about how unique your sound is? Why these comments are so rare? Isn’t your music getting reactions on social media and IRL? These 3 tips will make you stand out from the masses.
Today more music is made than ever and each band is fighting to stand out from the masses. Yet, few decades ago bands had original and unique sound. You do know the feeling when you recognize the song from the first bar. Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and Led Zeppelin’s When The Levee Breaks are great examples of such a classic sound. Wouldn’t it be nice if your band would have an equally original and recognizeable sound as they do?
1. Make the composition, lyrics and arrangement count
The first tip has nothing to do with the sound as we go to the source of giving birth to a song. Anyone can play Em, C and D chords, yet for some reason not many can make them work as awesome as Mr Steve Harris from Iron Maiden. How is it possible that someone can make those chords bring you goosebumps and the others cannot? I think music should always be composed from the genuine emotion and not because you just happen to own a laptop and a guitar. A genuine composition awakens emotions that the listener can relate to. Compose from the true feeling and you will see how your music will deeply touch people.
The melody line doesn’t necessarily need strange or unique notes. The most touching melody usually delivers the mood of the lyrics. Melodies on many classic songs are pretty simple and fit perfectly to the text, which leads us to the importance of lyrics.
The power of words
Musicians don’t usually pay attention to the lyrics as they tend to dig just the music. Does it sound familiar? Until I was 35 I too concentrated only on the music and not on the lyrics. But then again, how is it with the music consumers? The text is the most important element to them as it nowayds is to me too.
So then why do you write the lyrics as the last task of the song writing? Start with the text and write it straight from the heart. Be honest and genuine especially with the lyrics. Write about what is important to you and avoid settling for the “quite ok”. Consider that the words and music will live long after we’ve parished. Write with such emotion that it will touch people even after hundreds of years.
Arrange the arrangement
The bold and corageous arrangements seem to have gone extinct as everyone seems to only play it safe. On the old and also not-so-old classic albums bands and artists put a lot of effort in the arrangement. Bold decisions was the way to go so where did we go wrong? Go to the so-called source, get inspired and focus on the arrangement too. You just might get the inspiration to be brave and stand out!
Classic albums are great for arrangement inspiration too. At the moment I dig the arrangements by listening the original vinyl records from the mid 70’s Jethro Tull, King Crimson, The Carpenters, Blue Öyster Cult‘s Fire Of Unknown Origin and Suspiria movie soundtrack by Goblin.
The most horrible comment any artist can have for their art is “quite ok”. No-one wants to be in a band that’s “quite ok”. Or how would you feel if everyone told you your song is “quite ok”? It would be a nightmare to live a “quite ok” life with a “quite ok” girlfriend, drink “quite ok” coffee and to do all things “quite ok”. If you are not giving 110% for the composition, lyrics and arrangement, there’s a great chance that your music will turn out just “quite ok”. And by this I mean a colourless, tasteless and odourles music. Something that does not bring out any emotion and reaction.
When it comes to music too, all or nothing is your best option. Art in general is meant to raise emotions and to avoid the “quite ok” take a chance and be brave! Do something that no-one else does. Trust yourself and especially trust your instinct.
Write music with all you’ve got
Most hit songs thru-out the time have been composed pretty fast. Inspiration is the key for success when both writing the lyrics and music that will touch the masses. If you are stuck with a song or cannot compose, it’s better to wait for the inspiration to come. Forcing the art out of you very rarely leads to anything good and that includes music. When I want to get inspired I’ll listen the original vinyl records from the 60’s to 80’s. Spotify and other streaming services are only a shadow of the original recording. Once the inspiration comes you should write as much as possible. Then during “the dry season” you can work on those songs composed under the inspiration.
Do not compose for all the wrong reasons, like only to play a show or to go on a tour. Both the musician and vocalist must have something to say. The text has to be important enough to raise the interest of the listener. If you don’t have anything to say, then your better off silent. Put maximum focus and effort on your music and do it with great ambition. When writing music, give it all you’ve got! This will lead you to a very emotional and succesfull result.
2. Be original and be genuine
Using midi drums is unfortunately common and even on the latest Ghost album Prequelle on more than half the songs the drummer isn’t playing one single note. Tuning the vocals using autotune is a tempting and fast option. There’s a vast amount of Kemper profiles available and using them is both easy and fast. But is this really how classic albums are made?
If you use midi drums, it’s highly unlikely that you will have a genuine and original drum sound. The same applies for using drum samples and sound replacer. By using the same samples as everyone else it is impossible to sound any better than the rest. Surely you can sample the sound of your drums and sound replace with the very original sound that no-one else has. And in reality it will only take a lot of time to trig it good and while at it, it also kills the touch and the style of the drummer.
I highly recommend to spend time on the sound you are about to record. Take the time to both capture and keep the drums original and genuine thru-out the session. This way you are a huge leap closer to the classic albums and how they sound.
Read more from 4 tips for drum recording
Many bands put a lot of time and effort on cool promo photos and lashy music videos. Yet, the essence of the band activity; the music, rarely reaches the same level as the visual side. Band without music is nothing while a band who makes great music but has no promo photos and videos still makes great music. I am not saying that you should think less about the visual side, just put the most focus on the music itself. Make no compromise when it comes to the quality of your music.
If the vocals of Kurt Cobain were autotuned, I claim that Nirvana would never have become as popular as they did. With them the biggest appeal was the most important part of the art; being real and genuine. Kurt was in no way a technical vocalist, but he had important things to say and both his lyrics and singing touched tens of millions all around the world. You don’t have to like Nirvana to agree with me, yet you cannot deny the fact about Kurt’s vocals being genuine and getting a lot of reactions.
3. Stand out by recording on tape to get THE SOUND
Too many years music to me was tasteless, odourless and colourless as it did not touch me in any level. Everything was the horrible “quite ok” stuff. After comparing numerous times the sound of both the DAW and tape recording, I noticed how much more detailed music was when recorded on tape. All the small nuances were there even when listening the song as a poor quality mp3. Tape recording is a great way to deliver the emotion of your music without losing the colour, smell and taste.
Most of the albums that are considered the classics are recorded on tape. If you are disappointed with the sound of the DAW sessions or cannot get comments praising the sound of your music, I warmly recommend tape. Please do remember that the tape itself does not make your music sound great. No device or a plugin can ever do that. It all starts with the person operating the equiment and that’s why I recommend to trust the professional sound engineer. With just the right operator, in the correct facility and using the suitable hardware equipment your music can deliver a lot more detailed and emotional result. This will lead to your music getting reactions.
Plugins vs hardware
The more pluging you add to the insert, the more flat and further away from the listener the sound is. This is one of the best ways to get rid off any genuinity. Yet, I definitely do not mean that you shouldn’t use any processing. In rock and metal music the audio needs to be processed. I recommend processing with the original hardware. Modelling guitar amps are temptingly easy, yet they unfortunately do not sound like the real thing. So use the genuine amps as well. This will increase your possibility to succeed as an original artist instead of being a dime a dozen..
You can tweak the recording and mixing for years at home and in the rehearsal room. This rarely leads to the birth of a classic album, even though many seem to think so. Then again the computer dabbling is a way better hobby than taking drugs or doing scams, so in that sense you could spend your time a lot worse too. Luckily if you are disappointed with computer recording, you have a choice. If your music isn’t getting the response despite all the editing and digital processing, I warmly recommend the other end of the assembly line; tape recording with an experienced sound engineer.
If you don’t feel ready for the tape session, you can take the first step by recording in a studio where instead of plugins they use hardware. This is a great way to get to know the difference between plugins and the real gear. This can for example be easily done at our studio B using professional hardware in a top notch acoustical environment. You are warmly welcome to bring your engineer along or book Mr Miitri Aaltonen to record and produce your music.
Music getting reactions
I think everyone is entitled to have great sound and this is why I share my experience with you. If you like this post, please share it on the social media and help others improve their sound too. Have you read my post This Is Why Music Sounds Better When You Process The Audio During Recording. Learn tips for drummers on the three part post called How To Improve Drum Sound. The bass sound is thoroughly analyzed on post How To Improve Bass Sound. As a guitar player you’ll find lots of tips on How To Improve Guitar Sound. And as a vocalist you can improve the quality of you recording by reading my blog post called Better Vocal Recording.
Thank you for learning my tips on how to stand out from the masses. I cannot wait to read your comments and questions so please leave them below. You can contact me privately here. Have you read more sound tips on my other blog posts here? Thank you very much and all the very best!
Astia-studio is a full analog recording studio located in eastern Finland with 25 years of experience. Bands and artists from all over the world including USA and the furthest corner of Russia, Vladivostok have arrived to us for tape recording sessions.