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alkis says

Hi there AudioJungle people, I hope you’re having a great day.
I’m quite new to this and have just uploaded my first full-length track. It’s a motivational track called “Clear Weather” and I’d love to hear your feedback.

I’m overall ok with it, I just think I haven’t done the best job with the structure and length of the song. Do you think more variations of a motif/riff are needed so people using it on their project can choose from them, or should I keep it short and simple so that the final preview clip and final song is compact and interesting/not-boring?
Do you find the dynamics and the arrangement ok, or a bit exaggerated and crowdy?
How about the mix? I had some trouble getting the drums’ sound to naturally blend with the rest of the mix (I think the snare drum played the most important part to this, I’m not quite sure though).

Anyway, whatever feedback you can provide is welcome, and by that I also mean negative feedback and constructive criticism.

Thanks a bunch for the great community you have here, I’m really happy to be a part of it.

alkis

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TimMcMorris says

Hey Alkis,

Welcome to AJ :) , awesome to have you onboard :)

Well, in my opinion, you actually did quite well with the track, and I think your description does a good job of describing what the piece is all about. My personal taste is that I like bright snares, that is the only thing I could pick out that if I did the track I maybe would have done differently….a little more high end on the snare because it sounds just a touch too muffled to me…but that being said, that is nothing that would necessarily make the track sell more or less, just my personal preference :) ..... you are going in the right direction and the length is good.

Other then that, let me tell you things I keep in mind when writing for AJ. I try to look for categories and genres that are more empty rather then focusing on the popular ones like a lot of artists. Finding your own niche is very important. For example, I notice when I started writing music here (only a short time ago) that overall there were hardly any vocal tracks….so I started producing vocals tracks more often, and it is beginning to pay off!

- Find out what your strengths are and stick to them until you are comfortable with other areas.

- Take time to develop high quality tracks over quantity. It’s better to have 20 tracks that sell well rather then 500 that don’t. Some authors (and this is not always bad) like to upload a lot of their tracks at one time so they, in a sense, cover the homepage for a day or two….but I notice sometimes that for some of those authors all of their tracks have become mediocre. Authors and buyers around here will start to notice if you write good music, and they will see you when you release a song, even if its just one icon…because they will begin to associate your avatar with quality music….so again, focus hard on producing high quality, creative tracks and you won’t go wrong!

- Be patient….VERY patient. Sometimes you write an awesome track, and for some reason or another, it doesn’t catch traction right away. This doesn’t mean it’s not good or that it won’t end up being a high selling file. Sometimes the time just isn’t right,...but again, if the track is good, it will eventually be found and sell, don’t you worry!

- Work on a creative Avatar. I like the one you have now, but continue to improve. Work on something that you can keep for a long length of time so people beging to connect it with your music.

- Listen to music that is being used in productions where your writing strength is. So for example, if your good at corporate style tracks, search the web and watch some good examples of commercials and videos where that type of music is used….and look at the big companies. See what their tracks sound like, and why they are attractive…instrumentation, mixing, etc. Also keep an eye on the top sales here to see what people are buying :)

- Last but definitely not least – BE ORIGINAL AND CREATIVE . Your ability to sell largely has to do with your ability to continually come up with new material that isn’t dull, boring or the same as other authors. Find something that inspires you to write, don’t just write to write. Get your passion for music to show in your music, and you will do well.

Music is the tangible audible form of emotion…..its what emotion sounds like.

Hope this helped you, and good luck with writing and sales!!

-Tim

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alkis says

Hi Tim,

First of all, you can’t imagine how grateful I am for this detailed and thorough answer. Great feedback and tips! Thanks!

I agree about finding your own niche, being as unique as possible and producing fewer tracks with lots of quality. That’s my goal, and I’ll try to stick to that. The “Glitchy Logos” on my portfolio already seem to pay off a bit, and I found that a bit unexpected – but it seems to fit with your theory! I definitely first write something I like, and then think of it as an AJ item. I don’t want it to become a pure money-chasing process.

Yes, I’m working on some alternatives and improvements on the avatar, the first one was plain black-white with my name on it. Do you think the one I have now is too simple or not noticeable/memorable?

I will keep in mind all the great tips you gave, and stay as creative as possible! :-) Thanks again for your help, highly appreciated!

-alkis

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unseenbattle Volunteer moderator says

Hello Alkis and Tim.

Thanks for this post and the feedback. It has been invaluable to me as well.

If either of you or anyone else could tell me what makes some tracks “crisp” (or “pop” as photographers like to say about photos) I’d be forever in your debt.

For some reason I cannot seem to get any of my tracks to sound this way and I’m not sure if it’s just me being so critical of my own work or something I am missing in the mixing process.

And you can be as critical as you need to be. In this one http://audiojungle.net/item/synth-style/123564 did I get it (the “crispness”) or am I still missing something?

Thank you, John

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TimMcMorris says

Hey John,

By looking at the wav form, the track looks like it has some compression on it, however how well do you understand how to use compression? Do you use compression on individual tracks, or just the piece as a whole?

Keep in mind that each genre has a particular way to create that “crisp” sound you’re looking for…each technique is not the same, and especially when it comes to mastering, each genre is handled differently. Hip hop beats and electronic music can handle a lot more compression without noticeable quality loss because of the nature of the sounds. When you are working with live instruments more, they contain greater dynamics, and compression has to be handled carefully to avoid “pumping” or clipping. Live instruments usually require longer attack and release times to keep their natural flare…but this isn’t always the case..you always have to take into account the speed and volume each instrument is being played.

If you are new to compression and mastering, I would say start there. They are the two most important tools in a producers arsenal in my opinion (other then song writing creativity)....They are what separate the “basement tape” from the professional recording.

There are many many good tutorials online about both. If you want specifics, I use Isotope Ozone 4 for mastering my tracks. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it can be quite overwhelming at first, but as encouragement if you don’t know it already, I learned simply by doing a lot of reading and listening. Other then compression, the multi-band vocal exciters and stereo imaging really help my mixes.

That leads to my second suggestion. When I am making the final adjustments on my tracks, I pull up a list of songs that I already created and compare pieces of my track to other professionally recorded and mastered tracks…I mean the best of the best in the industry. I have an itunes playlist for different genres depending on what I am writing. Often times I will listen to a whole track first to let my ears adjust, and then only play a section of my audio. Try to get your track to sound like a top of the line produced album.

Another good thing to do is to let your ears “rest” for a day or two on your track before uploading. When we record and listen to our track over and over we start to lose sensitivity to our own music…this is why some people prefer others to master their tracks. If you don’t listen to your song for a couple days (I know it’s hard with the new tracks!) you will many times find that when you come back to it you can immediately identify changes in the mix you want to make and do it much more efficiently.

You may know a lot of this already, but in case you don’t, I thought I would list my thoughts :)....and at the end of the day, we’re all still learning to improve no matter what stage we are at!

Keep up the good work!

-Tim

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unseenbattle Volunteer moderator says

Wow, thank you Tim. That was invaluable information. Thank you so much.

I did learn within the last year about compression and use it on individual tracks as needed, not the whole mix. I went through the faderpro.com “the art of the remix” Detailed_Summary”>http://faderpro.com/v2/courses.php#The_Art_of_The_Remix-_Detailed_Summary course which took me to the next level. Highly suggested!

Do you have any suggestions for courses online to learn more in detail about compression and mastering? I learn best by video tutorials rather than all written.

I don’t do any live instrument recording as of yet simply because of a lack of equipment, but I will be adding an electric guitar to the list soon.

I looked into the iZotope Ozone 4 product and it looks really helpful. Do you use it as a VST plugin or stand-alone? I’d be using it in Logic Pro 8 as a plugin. Also, do you know of any coupons out on the wild web to bring the price down a bit?

My biggest problem is getting enough volume out of certain instruments, like the piano without distortion and clipping. By using compression and learning about how to not cause masking in certain frequencies when mixing I feel like I’ve stepped up to a new level, but from your statements it sounds like there is still much more that can be gleaned from the areas of compression and mastering, so thank you so much!

This has helped me realize what I need to focus next, so thank you again. :)

Any other suggestions; anyone?

- John

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alkis says
Do you have any suggestions for courses online to learn more in detail about compression and mastering? I learn best by video tutorials rather than all written.
I guess there’s a lot out there on the web, but I really find Joe Gilder’s Home Studio Corner website/blog a fantastic music production tutorial place, he keeps it quite simple and to-the-point.

I also enjoyed this basic iZotope Ozone mastering tutorial, to maybe get you started, although it may be used a bit too heavily in this video (and it depends on the type of tune you make, always).

I can’t add anything else actually, Tim has covered the topic really well.

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unseenbattle Volunteer moderator says

Thanks alkis, I’ll check out those pages.

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robGD Volunteer moderator says

Great advice, Tim.

Sleep on it, listen with fresh ears. That always helps. Keep a list of your highly regarded songs that you would like to emulate. When I was doing live sound I would warm up my ears with a CD and set up the mains to make those songs pop in the room. Then I would set up the band’s mix based on that. Also, in your mastering suite there’s probably some presets to get you started. Then i would highly recommend reading up on signal flow and how time based and dynamics processors work. That should keep you busy. Good luck!

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