A couple of nights ago a rapper contacted me quite abruptly. This guy wanted me to have a listen to his music. As usual, I obliged. I listened through his music and made a few mental notes. I was convinced he would be impressed that I broke his entire song down and gave him comprehensive feedback. I was so very wrong… After leaving a detailed summary of what I enjoyed, didn’t enjoy and areas where I thought he could improve, he gave me an answer that left a very sour taste in my mouth.
‘but do you like it?’
My jaw dropped and I threw my phone on my bed. He then went on to explain that he wasn’t looking for constructive comments and criticism. What was important was whether I liked it. In my state of fury, I gave him a very lukewarm answer. He then proceeded to tell me that the track is ‘fine’ and that it doesn’t need changing.
The sour taste is still there and I’ll still listen to tracks provided it’s not random spam in my inbox, but please excuse me if I ask you whether you want me to comment or critique. I just don’t want to get disappointed like that again for a while.
If an artist wants a hype man, it’s not me they’re looking for
If an artist wants approval, it’s not me they’re looking for
If an artist wants a one line remark after I hear their new song, that’s not me either.
The difference between a serious artist and a fly-by-night artist is that one will be happy to (together with the producer) release the preliminary mixdown as the main version while the other will have different versions of the mix. Ones that have been worked on and improved upon. That feedback that you ask for is what you’re supposed to use to gauge what really needs to change in the mix.
I watch how J-Lawless works and he is basically on the other end of the scale to the artists I see that aren’t really serious about their music. J will record, mix, send out to his team, listen to it on everything from car speakers to earphones and then rerecord. He’ll mix it again and again until his team is cool with it. I watched him do that very same thing on the Balance track from the RevelationEP. Now I’m not saying that you need to do this to get good sounding songs, you just need to mix or have it mixed more than once. Another alternative is to listen to the mix on everything that you can to make sure it’s going to sound good everywhere. I like this method because it allows me to hear the mix on the devices that the song will be played and it doesn’t require me to contact the artist too many times.
Anyway, I know this topic sort of changed halfway through, but both themes are quite important; be careful when dishing out requests for people to listen to your work as well as knowing that your 1st mix is (more often than not) not your last mix.
For more tips for artists and rappers in particular, click here