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Richard Tracey

(UPDATE) Producer or no Producer - that is the question?

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Richard Tracey    289

Okay, I am still in a dilemma - I don't know whether to try and produce my music myself or go with a producer, which could cost upwards of £200 to £1000 depending on how far I want to go.

That money could probably go to better use, but I am starting to doubt whether anything I produce is going to sound good enough for release. I could pay £25 an hour and get the use of the studio to record all my vocals correctly and away from the distraction and noise of the house and £25 an hour for advice on the production and mix of my tracks and hope I could get all that advice and recording done in an hour:huh:

 

What does everyone think? How would they approach this if they were going to release their music to the world?

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MonoStone    917

Richard, If you're well off... I mean if you can afford to spend a grand and not miss it... why not have fun in the studio with a professional, you might learn things and you'll enjoy yourself.

 

BUT... if you don't have spare grands to chuck around, as I and I guess most don't, then you really have no excuse not to produce your own music. You already own Logic, you have a good mic, monitors etc...you're all set to do it yourself. The ONLY thing stopping you is that you can't see a song through from concept to finished production because you get bored or lose focus for some reason.

 

2 hours ago, Richard Tracey said:

How would they approach this if they were going to release their music to the world?

 

Many of us already do release our music to the world... You need to be realistic, you've not completed a song (or maybe you have one I've not heard?), your next step is to just finish one, and then produce it. And be realistic in terms of what it's worth spending... As I say, many of us already release our music to the world but that barely goes beyond Soundcloud or Bandcamp or CD Baby.... let's be honest, you could pay for a month at Abbey Road but unless you happen to have Macca join you there the quality of the studio production above homemade productions won't make an ounce of a difference to your appeal or reach, especially when you're making very electronic music that doesn't benefit at all from the kind of recording conditions, gear and even session players, which you might get from spending a fortune in a really top end studio.

 

You can easily make your own productions good enough for small radio stations (I have mine played by a local station) or internet stations, and you can easily make your home productions good enough to demo to a label IF you want to go that route, and you can easily make your home productions good enough for anyone who downloads them to enjoy listening to.

 

Also keep in mind that just because you pay a pro producer (if they even really are) then there's no guarantee you'll complete your songs unless you have them totally complete except for production before you go to the studio. It's possible the studio guy will help you finish but not guaranteed (unless that's the deal).

 

My opinion - Finish a few songs yourself before you do anything else... studio, website, and all of that can wait..... finish some songs first. And AFTER that, maybe a studio will be good for you since you don't like singing at home... but if you go to the studio with several finished songs, inc guide vocals, then you'll get them recorded and mixed very quickly. No reason why you can't record several in one day, then just have the guy touch up your mix.

 

In all honesty, I think you're going the wrong way around stuff. Songs come first. Finish a few. Studio time is for recording stuff you already have written UNLESS you're a millionaire and can afford to just sit around with a producer for weeks knocking ideas around.

 

 

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Richard Tracey    289
40 minutes ago, MonoStone said:

Richard, If you're well off... I mean if you can afford to spend a grand and not miss it... why not have fun in the studio with a professional, you might learn things and you'll enjoy yourself.

 

BUT... if you don't have spare grands to chuck around, as I and I guess most don't, then you really have no excuse not to produce your own music. You already own Logic, you have a good mic, monitors etc...you're all set to do it yourself. The ONLY thing stopping you is that you can't see a song through from concept to finished production because you get bored or lose focus for some reason.

 

 

Many of us already do release our music to the world... You need to be realistic, you've not completed a song (or maybe you have one I've not heard?), your next step is to just finish one, and then produce it. And be realistic in terms of what it's worth spending... As I say, many of us already release our music to the world but that barely goes beyond Soundcloud or Bandcamp or CD Baby.... let's be honest, you could pay for a month at Abbey Road but unless you happen to have Macca join you there the quality of the studio production above homemade productions won't make an ounce of a difference to your appeal or reach, especially when you're making very electronic music that doesn't benefit at all from the kind of recording conditions, gear and even session players, which you might get from spending a fortune in a really top end studio.

 

You can easily make your own productions good enough for small radio stations (I have mine played by a local station) or internet stations, and you can easily make your home productions good enough to demo to a label IF you want to go that route, and you can easily make your home productions good enough for anyone who downloads them to enjoy listening to.

 

Also keep in mind that just because you pay a pro producer (if they even really are) then there's no guarantee you'll complete your songs unless you have them totally complete except for production before you go to the studio. It's possible the studio guy will help you finish but not guaranteed (unless that's the deal).

 

My opinion - Finish a few songs yourself before you do anything else... studio, website, and all of that can wait..... finish some songs first. And AFTER that, maybe a studio will be good for you since you don't like singing at home... but if you go to the studio with several finished songs, inc guide vocals, then you'll get them recorded and mixed very quickly. No reason why you can't record several in one day, then just have the guy touch up your mix.

 

In all honesty, I think you're going the wrong way around stuff. Songs come first. Finish a few. Studio time is for recording stuff you already have written UNLESS you're a millionaire and can afford to just sit around with a producer for weeks knocking ideas around.

 

 

 

Yeah, definitely not rolling in it, which is why I am kind of hesitant about going the producer route. I have one guy in mind that I am going to meet up with. He seemed really interested in the tracks I played him and even after 8 months or so, he still remembers them. I played him 'Broken' and he loved it.

 

I'll meet up with him and see what he thinks he can bring to the table and roughly how much it's going to cost. If it's not going to be a lot of money, I might just go with him for a song or an EP and then look at doing my own production.

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MonoStone    917
17 minutes ago, Richard Tracey said:

eah, definitely not rolling in it, which is why I am kind of hesitant about going the producer route. I have one guy in mind that I am going to meet up with. He seemed really interested in the tracks I played him and even after 8 months or so, he still remembers them. I played him 'Broken' and he loved it.

 

Again being honest, I predicted you'd say that... and that I'd say 'well... he will say he's into it... it's how he makes money' ... Not to knock your tunes at all, he may or may not be really into it, but he's not likely to say he's not.

 

If you're not rolling in it then I personally think it's the wrong route. You easily have the ability to mix your own stuff... so it's only about writing it to the finish now. And if you desperately want someone else to produce for you, you'll find a whole load of amateurs who are extremely good and willing to collaborate if they like your stuff... Soundcloud is full of them, get into the SC community.

 

EDIT - All that said, I have a good friend who is a genuinely successful songwriter and he will not even consider producing his own stuff because he finds it gets in the way of the writing.... so he uses a producer... but... until songs are ready and complete enough to be recorded proper, he uses a demo producer (a student he thinks is very gifted)...which to my ears gives results like you'd expect from a very good home recording (no 'studio' involved). So it's easy for me to say 'produce your own' because I enjoy doing my own...but that might be wrong for you personally and a producer collaborator might be great for you....BUT still, there's just no need to spend money on studio time at this stage.

Edited by MonoStone
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HoboSage    1,997
1 hour ago, MonoStone said:

BUT still, there's just no need to spend money on studio time at this stage.

 

+1.  Website development, producers and studios - these are carts before horses taking you off needed courses (I gotta use that rhyme) . . . the courses to finishing your songs. :)

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Jenn    259

Very interesting read..

I was wondering.. @MonoStone would you be able to explain to me how being signed to a label changes things? Do they pay for some of the studio time? Or is it just a contract saying that you need to make music? Much appreciated..

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Richard Tracey    289
51 minutes ago, Jenn said:

Very interesting read..

I was wondering.. @MonoStone would you be able to explain to me how being signed to a label changes things? Do they pay for some of the studio time? Or is it just a contract saying that you need to make music? Much appreciated..

 

Jenn, being signed gives you access to better recording facilities and producers, which the label will normally pay for up front, but your contract will stipulate that you will owe them this money. So even if your sales do not cover the cost, you still owe them.

 

A lot of successful bands were caught out by this years ago and even though they sold a lot of records, their studio time etc was astronomical. 

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Jenn    259

Ah ok that's what I thought.. just wasn't sure

 

why the hell is it so expensive 

 

..... seems like a good career if you're on the other side

Edited by Jenn

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Richard Tracey    289
16 minutes ago, Jenn said:

Ah ok that's what I thought.. just wasn't sure

 

why the hell is it so expensive 

 

..... seems like a good career if you're on the other side

 

Don't think it is to be honest. Unless you are regarded as one of the best in the business, I don't think you make a lot of money. There are producers out there who are now putting themselves out to work with anyone who will pay them as most labels have their own producers that they want the artists to work with.

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Jenn    259
10 minutes ago, Richard Tracey said:

 

Don't think it is to be honest. Unless you are regarded as one of the best in the business, I don't think you make a lot of money. There are producers out there who are now putting themselves out to work with anyone who will pay them as most labels have their own producers that they want the artists to work with.

Do you know anything about sound engineers? Or anything else like that

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Richard Tracey    289
25 minutes ago, Jenn said:

Do you know anything about sound engineers? Or anything else like that

 

I am sure there are more knowledgable persons on the boards who can give you more information regarding sound engineers, but I think they will be in the same boat as most producers now.

 

As Dek has mentioned, most new artists seem to be doing all of this themselves, unless they have the money behind them. Where as years ago, the sound engineer and producer were almost a pre-requisite for making an album due to the complexities of the studio, new technology has almost made them redundant.

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MonoStone    917
29 minutes ago, Jenn said:

Do you know anything about sound engineers? Or anything else like that

 

Jenn, sadly...unless you make a name for yourself and get the best work...being a sound engineer in a regular recording studio isn't a ticket to riches. When I used to use recording studios back in the early 90s we'd pay about £150 per day for a cheap studio, and maybe double that for one considered to be something special. And guess what... nearly 30 years later the average local studio around here charges about £150 per day. That's a long day and still overheads to deduct. 

 

There will be other ways to make sound engineering skills pay I imagine... but one thing is certain - Unless you're at the top of your game and get some lucky breaks it's just another job that can be tough to make pay, and few jobs/lots of candidates is never a good thing. Although things might be different in the USA, I'm not sure.

 

But your best bet will be to ask engineers and producers. I'll PM you something.

 

 

 

 

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john    1,459

A big part of the cost is the studio itself. All that gear is expensive. So is acoustically treating and soundproofing the studio. All that gear also means a fairly large power draw. Then there is using studio downtime to learn new tech, the latest bit of gear. Buying new gear, planning stydio changes etc. Just like rehearsal time, gear, transport and a bunch of other costs are hidden costs to fans, bands still have to pay them.

 

Dek is right about costs not going up. High end studios are more expensive... and the further up the ladder you go the more people sit in the control room. One of the studios I worked with would sometimes see 3 or 4 people (Head Sound Engineer, Assistant Sound Engineer, GoFer, and a Producer, though the GoFer was usually free, working for experience) in demo studios it is more common to have a single sound engineer who is often the studio owner. Changing tech has made the assistant sound engineer role almost redundant in many studios. Even more so in this period of lower musical income. Pre-automation, in large desk studios, more hands were needed to manage faders and mutes on the desk, during mix down, with the engineers and even producer having to rehearse a mix, just like another performance. Not needed in 99.9% of studios now..

 

As a sound engineer, there is a more steady income from television and film. Freelancing Engineers (not bound to a specific studio) often get a mix of live, studio and film and TV? Whatever is the paying gig. Touring gives good rates, but there are periods without work and of course the inconvenience of touring.

 

Many studios have closed their doors and many sound engineers and producers have left the industry. Piracy and the Google and streaming/sharing site's war on the music industry has resulted in the loss of so much talent, and a lot of full-time people going part-time. Sad. It has had an impact right across all aspects of the music industry.

 

@richard you know I am very cautious about you using a producer, especially before choosing your songs for the project. Afterall, you have the technical and creative capability to finish songs, but you lack focus. You are too easily distracted by what is new. That new patch. Effect. Chord change or discovered melody.. You are always impatient to move forward, and possibly find the detail stage of editing less engaging and less stimulating than the exciting brainstorming stage. Combine that with not being sufficiently motivated to get across the finishing line.

 

Largely I think you lack  confidence in what you do. You question it (which is healthy) but your lack of confidence means you are plagued by self-doubt. I think it is for this more than anything that you are looking for someone else to contribute, yes, but equally important I think you need the verification and validation that someone you believe in can give you.

 

Very I mportantly, it not an issue with your music. You have strong opinions about music, but when it comes to your own music, doubt robs you of self-belief.  I am sure you know all this.

 

Part of this, in my experience, is often a degree of fear. Fear of making a statement and being judged. Fear of settling for what you have when 5 minutes more experimenting might yield that one bit that really makes that song work. Fear of carving it in stone. Sadly, in experimenting, shiny paper syndrome gets you as you discover something new and exciting and... off you go, a new song evolves, while the current song languishes, unfinished,  pushed aside, cast off. After all, if you never finish, your music cannot be judged, because whatever people hear, it is not the finished article. It is a very, very common issue for songwriters. For creatives in general.

 

Carved in stone? We'll sort of. Songs are re-written, rearranged, re-recorded, remixed, all the time! Mistakes? So what. As long as you learn from them, all will be well.

 

You share songs here, where it is safe to make mistakes and learn, where issues are not perceived as "permanent". That threshold you cope with well.

 

That said, if you have budget and view it as chance to learn, asking for explanations, watching what is done, it could be a great (though expensive) way to learn. That will only work if you are open to learning, and can gain enough confidence from the process, the producer and the result, to overcome your fear of possibly missing that vital ingredient that will make your song perfect. Still, it remains, that for you, working with a producer might just be enough to help boost your confidence that your music, that your song, really is good enough. Certainly a good producer will help you cross that finishing line. If nothing else, it is a huge part of their job!

 

So for you, perhaps it is the answer. At least for one song.

 

You seem willing to learn from others on the boards and elsewhere, and your songs do evolve and improve. However,  I can't help thinking that if you could only complete a couple of songs largely on your own, even with bits of guidance on specific issues from people you respect, the confidence you would gain would be massive. There would be no stopping you. You work at your music. You grow. You enjoy hat you do. Completing a song is an important psychological step.

 

Whatever you do, I am sure you will create some great finished songs (unless you choose not to finish them!) and some day soon, this dilemma will be in the rear view mirror. We will still support you and cheer you on. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jenn    259
2 hours ago, john said:

Completing a song is an important psychological step.

Nothing feels better than finishing a song that you're proud of..

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HoboSage    1,997
Just now, Jenn said:

Nothing feels better than finishing a song that you're proud of..

 

 

You poor kid.  There are MANY things that feel A LOT better - trust me!  <heh-heh>  :)

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Jenn    259
1 minute ago, HoboSage said:

 

 

You poor kid.  There are MANY things that feel A LOT better - trust me!  <heh-heh>  :)

you're right... getting it approved by HoboSage on songstuff.com

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Richard Tracey    289
1 hour ago, Jenn said:

you're right... getting it approved by HoboSage on songstuff.com

 

'Wouldn't know, he is still black balling me;)

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starise    403

From what I've heard you do Richard. I think you could pull it off well with no outside  production help.

 

 

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HoboSage    1,997
20 hours ago, Richard Tracey said:

 

'Wouldn't know, he is still black balling me;)

 

 

Hey now.  I am not blackballing you.  I"m merely boycotting your new works in progress by not commenting on them until you finish a previous one.  There's a big difference. :)

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Richard Tracey    289
7 minutes ago, HoboSage said:

 

 

Hey now.  I am not blackballing you.  I"m merely boycotting your new works in progress by not commenting on them until you finish a previous one.  There's a big difference. :)

 

I went back to Charon again and looking to go back to a couple more over the next week, so that's a start.

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Richard Tracey    289
On 08/08/2017 at 0:19 PM, john said:

 

@richard you know I am very cautious about you using a producer, especially before choosing your songs for the project. Afterall, you have the technical and creative capability to finish songs, but you lack focus. You are too easily distracted by what is new. That new patch. Effect. Chord change or discovered melody.. You are always impatient to move forward, and possibly find the detail stage of editing less engaging and less stimulating than the exciting brainstorming stage. Combine that with not being sufficiently motivated to get across the finishing line.

 

Largely I think you lack  confidence in what you do. You question it (which is healthy) but your lack of confidence means you are plagued by self-doubt. I think it is for this more than anything that you are looking for someone else to contribute, yes, but equally important I think you need the verification and validation that someone you believe in can give you.

 

Very I mportantly, it not an issue with your music. You have strong opinions about music, but when it comes to your own music, doubt robs you of self-belief.  I am sure you know all this.

 

Part of this, in my experience, is often a degree of fear. Fear of making a statement and being judged. Fear of settling for what you have when 5 minutes more experimenting might yield that one bit that really makes that song work. Fear of carving it in stone. Sadly, in experimenting, shiny paper syndrome gets you as you discover something new and exciting and... off you go, a new song evolves, while the current song languishes, unfinished,  pushed aside, cast off. After all, if you never finish, your music cannot be judged, because whatever people hear, it is not the finished article. It is a very, very common issue for songwriters. For creatives in general.

 

Carved in stone? We'll sort of. Songs are re-written, rearranged, re-recorded, remixed, all the time! Mistakes? So what. As long as you learn from them, all will be well.

 

You share songs here, where it is safe to make mistakes and learn, where issues are not perceived as "permanent". That threshold you cope with well.

 

That said, if you have budget and view it as chance to learn, asking for explanations, watching what is done, it could be a great (though expensive) way to learn. That will only work if you are open to learning, and can gain enough confidence from the process, the producer and the result, to overcome your fear of possibly missing that vital ingredient that will make your song perfect. Still, it remains, that for you, working with a producer might just be enough to help boost your confidence that your music, that your song, really is good enough. Certainly a good producer will help you cross that finishing line. If nothing else, it is a huge part of their job!

 

So for you, perhaps it is the answer. At least for one song.

 

You seem willing to learn from others on the boards and elsewhere, and your songs do evolve and improve. However,  I can't help thinking that if you could only complete a couple of songs largely on your own, even with bits of guidance on specific issues from people you respect, the confidence you would gain would be massive. There would be no stopping you. You work at your music. You grow. You enjoy hat you do. Completing a song is an important psychological step.

 

Whatever you do, I am sure you will create some great finished songs (unless you choose not to finish them!) and some day soon, this dilemma will be in the rear view mirror. We will still support you and cheer you on. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@john - it's nice you have that kind of confidence in what I am capable of - I think deep down I feel the same, but my mind works on so many different levels that I find it difficult to concentrate on one thing at a time - this is why I am very good at multitasking. I need to learn to focus and put blinkers up. To do that, I need to be away from the constant distractions that come from being a husband and father and as I am not willing to leave them for the sake of my music, I need to come up with another option. Hence, the producer and studio might be what I need, until I can learn to target my focus.

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MonoStone    917
53 minutes ago, Richard Tracey said:

I need to learn to focus and put blinkers up. To do that, I need to be away from the constant distractions that come from being a husband and father and as I am not willing to leave them for the sake of my music

 

A tip - Don't focus on things like mixing or arrangement too much until you have a near complete song. You shouldn't even (too often) be posting initial ideas for feedback on how the mix sounds etc (many of us do sometimes but it won't help you focus and complete). When you get an idea for a verse, record it fast and then immediately try to think of the next part...the chorus or whatever...while you're still very into the song. Write the bones of the song quickly, if you can. Once you have the bones of a complete song, you can keep dipping in as time allows to work on the arrangement and production... and the final vocal when you get chance.

 

If you have a verse... and you feel stuck... a good next step is to check a key chart and try the other chords from the key...see if they (either alone or mixed with some of the verse chords) make a good chorus..

 

I underlined 'while you're still into the song' because I think that's the main thing. If you're really into a song then you should have a desire to complete it.... now and then everyone gets a bit of an idea and gets really into it but gets stuck...but the real keepers are often the ones that just seem to write themselves, and often it's about the magic you feel when you make the chord change out of the section you've been going round for ages. So again, if possible, if you find you've got a verse you love...get straight onto thinking up the next bit. Writing needs focus... so spend your 'me time' wisely... you can work on arrangement and mixing in bits n bobs in your headphones whenever you find bits of time.

 

I sometimes find it hard to do... I get bogged down in the same bit... but I know from experience that the good ones come when you find the next part quickly (or when the progression and groove just feel complete and you love it... if it's not going to have a typical chord change chorus etc). Occasionally you might find an old verse and invent a new part for it months later...but... if you lose focus on a track and wander away before completing it then that usually means you're just not THAT into it! Otherwise you'd return to it once your distractions are out of the way. And you have to be into it for it to turn out good and get finished.

 

 

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Richard Tracey    289

Okay - thought I would post an update regarding this.

 

I have decided to go with the producer for one song to see how it goes. I played a shit load of my songs to him and have narrowed the list down to 15 that I have sent to him so he can get a feeling for which one to go with first. He has a starter package which is £175 and this includes all the studio session time, mixing, production, anything that goes with making the song sound and feel right, advice on where we should start and how to get it out there once it is finished. He will not be doing the mastering, but then it is never a good idea to get the same person to do it. We have worked out it will probably be 4 1/2 day sessions to complete one song and he is going to take into consideration the stage my music is at, instead of what he is used to (someone turning up with a lyric and guitar part). I don't want to lose too much of my 'sound', but I am realistic that I probably throw too much in there.

 

If I am happy with the result, then we can look at just the studio time and mixing after that, which should hopefully lighten the cost to me.

 

He played me a track he is working on at the moment with a Scottish musician. It has kind of folky elements with electronica. The track sounded excellent and it sounded better than some of the professionally produced tracks you get on the radio. It made me realise I am so far off with my stuff, but I hope to learn a lot from how he approaches music with arrangement, drums and vocal, as well as mixing.

 

And just for Dek, he said he really liked the tracks I played him, especially a couple in particular that he was really keen on;)

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MonoStone    917
8 hours ago, Richard Tracey said:

And just for Dek, he said he really liked the tracks I played him, especially a couple in particular that he was really keen on

 

I'm sure he does like them... 

 

Which two? Are they complete? And if not will you write new parts in the studio? I'm only asking out of interest... plus it would be very interesting to hear a before and after wouldn't it?

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Richard Tracey    289
2 minutes ago, MonoStone said:

 

I'm sure he does like them... 

 

Which two? Are they complete? And if not will you write new parts in the studio? I'm only asking out of interest... plus it would be very interesting to hear a before and after wouldn't it?

 

It wasn't just two and he feels that there probably isn't a lot we need to do, probably just the arrangement, making sure the drums are programmed properly and doing the vocals again. He will then look at the mix, creating space and depth, making sure everything fits in the correct place.

 

I don't think we will be looking to write new parts in the studio, he doesn't seem to think that is a need for my tracks. He agrees with what I think my weakness is, although he complimented me on the mix/space I managed to get on some of the tracks, as well as how clear and crisp my vocals were on some as well.

 

I will post my version and the completed version once it is finished, but given how nice the track he played me sounds, then I think it will be like night and day.

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