Imitate, Assimilate, Innovate.
This time our tips & tricks post is about getting your tracks to sound as good as ‘the professional’ tracks you hear on iTunes, Spotify, Beatport or the radio, that are released by your favorite artists. These are not as much technical tips but are focused more on the mindset, and the creative process, to get to that level. This is helpful for total beginners but for more intermediate and expert producers as well and can be applied to any type of art, where a creative process is required to make something. So without further ado, let’s talk about the phrase ‘Imitate, Assimilate, Innovate’.
As somewhat of a golden rule of thumb; a successful track almost always has the following characteristics. It’s similar enough (to other tracks) to be recognizable, but it’s different enough to be unique. This is why often remixes / covers of older recognizable songs do so well. It’s a new and unique interpretation of something people recognize. That’s why you see a lot of producers releasing bootlegs (unofficial remixes) in the hope to gain some support from their favorite artists and get their own name out there. But this applies to original tracks as well. If you listen to last years most popular tracks, you’ll notice they all have parts in common (which are recognizable to the common listener), but still have their own unique sound as well. Now how do you get to that point?
Imitate – Recreating your favorite tracks
This is what I always recommend people that ask me how they can make their tracks sound as good as ‘track X’ or ‘artist Y’. Recreate these tracks from scratch. On every single specific sound, style and quality. Listen to the songwriting. Think about how they did the songwriting, and why they did it this way. Then recreate the song, the melodies and the arrangement. Try to get as close as possible as you can get. Then try to recreate the exact sounds used. Create your sounds from scratch, or tweak presets, as long as they are sounding similar to the original. Once you’ve got the musical part going, it’s time for the technical part. Try to match the frequency spectrum of the tracks. Try to get it to sound as similar as possible in the mix-down already. The mastering is for later. This is basically a matter of grinding until you are satisfied. Or not, in which case I’d urge you to start all over again. I won’t lie; this process can be both time-consuming and downright annoying. But it’s something you’ll need to get through until you’re ready for the next step. Which is Assimilate.
Assimilate – Getting good at that style or type of sound
So, you’ve got the basics down of the style you want to do. It’s starting to sound similar to your reference tracks. Good job and well done! But now it’s time for the next level. You need to get good at this. There’s only one way to really get there; practice, practice, practice. And maybe some theoretical knowledge as to why you make certain decisions. Reading some material on the subject (there are seriously good music theory or audio engineer books out there) or watching tutorials can really help you out. Once you integrate this knowledge into your workflow, you’ll notice you will start to hear a real difference in the quality of your tracks. Continue until you feel your tracks sound really similar to the ‘professional’ reference tracks you have used, or even better. Once you’re there, it’s time for the next step!
Innovate – Taking you’ve learned and making it your own.
So this is where all the hard work of the previous steps really pays off. You’re now able to make really good tracks, but it’s time for the next step. Differentiating yourself and your music from others. This is where you can let your creativity roam free. If you’re aiming for the commercial market, just try to keep the ‘golden rule of thumb’ in mind. Similar enough to be recognizable, different enough to be unique. This is where you can really determine your own sound as an artist. This is going to be YOU!
Now needless to say; following these steps requires hard work and dedication. It’s not something that you’ll be able to do within a couple of weeks. But if you’re really set to take your production skills to the next level, this is the way to do it. However, if you want to speed things up a little, taking your musical career to the next level a bit sooner, luckily there’s a solution for that. It may not come as much of a surprise, but that solution is a…. (shock)… Ghost Producer. And accidentally, you appear to be one the website of one! Now that can’t be a coincidence can it?
That’s it for now. Hope this information helps you with your tracks. Happy producing! And if you need any help, you know where to find me!