By Stephen Wrench

I have been in the studio with many famous artists and many Indie artists. All have the tendency to make the same mistakes. Do you listen to the top 40 radio tracks and wonder “why can’t my record sound as good as this”? In my experience there are some common mistakes that you can control and make your record sound great.

Vocal Takes. The feeling was there and the players all fed off of each other. You nailed the vocal on first take. The magic was there. You know “the magic” when the hair stood up on your body and you knew the song had it, it was great. But you insisted “I can do it better”. Then 10 takes later you used the first take. The spontaneity was there,everyone was in perfect synch. The magic was created. So what if you had to punch in a few spots. Music is supposed to cause a strong emotion in the listener. If it did that keep it.

Overproducing. Once upon a time everyone recorded on tape and the number of tracks were limited. Today with Pro Tools and the ability to create unlimited tracks artists have the tendency to add overdubs, and numerous other filler tracks. Listen to tracks from the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s. The artists used a minimal number of tracks. But they created a melodic hook that you wanted to hear over and over again. Like “My Girl” or “Sweet Home Alabama” Both had the musical hook the listener anticipated hearing again and again. Use the minimal amount of tracks to evoke that emotion in the listener.

Go Back To Basics Before Pro Tools and multi track recording there was tape. When you recorded on tape everyone was playing at once. Everyone fed off of each other. When they were in the groove history was created. A track that would be played for generations to come. When you play live sometimes you have that one set that is just magic. The crowd is drawn in, cheering and dancing. They feel what the band feels , in total synch and the band can do no wrong. A lot of these old songs there are mistakes; A drum beat a little off time, A different note on the guitar that was not practiced and just came out, A vocal inflection that was not planned , Spontaneous creations that evoke emotions and reactions. If you accomplished this then leave the recording alone. Reason being that no amount of takes or overdubs can take the place of a artist and a band performing form their heart and soul. Music was never meant to be perfect. But it was meant to make the soul fly to places it cannot without music – Music made from the heart and soul.

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