One of the most common questions we get from students is ‘How do I know when my track is finished?”
We get it, it can be a frustrating as a producer. You can begin to question yourself after a while. Do I need to add more musical elements? Is my arrangement right? Is the vocal I have enough to carry the record through?
Here are 5 tips from Toolroom HQ to help you know if your track is finished and ready to send out…
When you’ve been working on a track for a while, a fresh perspective can be extremely helpful. Get another pair of ears to listen to your work. Avoid your best mate or your Mum, they will always tell you that your track is amazing! Send it to some other producers you know and get their thoughts on your production. They will be able to point out things you may have missed and help you get it across the line.
This highlights the importance of having a network of people around you. That’s something we advocate here at the Academy. We have a very strong Alumni network of students that all support each other to better themselves as producers.
Have you presented your idea to the listener in the best way you could? This is essentially what Music Production comes down to, it’s about convincing the listener that your idea is a good one.
Is your Hook apparent throughout? Have you tried experimenting with other arrangements? Have you had a play with your vocal to see what parts you could loop or cut up?
One of the most important parts of a dance record is the Hook! Therefore it’s imperative that this is translated in the best way it can be in order for your record to stand out.
9 times out of 10, you’ll be able to squeeze an extra 10% out of your record and it’s these little details that make a record stand out. This could be adjusting an EQ to remove certain frequencies, fine tuning some automation or adding little fills to aid transitions. Little details matter!
When you’ve ‘finished’ your record, go away from it for a week, then come back to it with fresh ears. Sit and listen to it away from the DAW and write down anything that comes to you as you listen. Trust your instincts, you’ll find things you can add/change within your production.
Pick out 4-5 tracks that are in the style of your record. Drop them all into the DAW and flick back and forth between them and your track.
Does your record stand up? Is yours missing any elements that the others have? Does the mix hold it’s own amongst these records?
It will be apparent very quickly if you need to make any changes to your record.
A good indicator that your track is finished, is when you can listen back to it with fresh ears; and not want to make any changes.
When you first listen back to it, it’s likely you will find little things to change, For example – add a snare fill here or change the automation there, but when you can listen to the record in it’s entirety and comfortably say there isn’t anything you’d change, it’s a promising sign that your record is near completion.
“I think experience really helps with this as you tend to know if it’s ready after you’ve been doing it for a long time. However, I believe there is no better test for it than playing it out in a club environment. The crowd will instantly give you a very honest reaction to how good it is, they won’t lie. You might play it to your mates and get a bit of a distorted opinion of it based on your relationship with them. We are lucky as DJs to have an opportunity to road test our records week in, week out, use this to your advantage!
You want to get to a point where you can say ‘I can’t get any more out of this record’. I often play them out, then head back to the hotel afterwards and make notes based on what I think was wrong. For example, the kick is too loud, the hats need turning up, this section is 8 bars too long etc. I’ll then wake up the next day with a fresh head, make the changes before playing it out the following night and repeating the process again. It’s a great advantage to have!
I understand not everyone is in the position where they have regular gigs, if this is you, then use every tool you have to your advantage, if you have a mate that DJ’s, get them to play it, maybe stick it on at a party, don’t tell anyone what it is and see the reaction. Get creative!”
Why not try one of our online programs! In these courses you’ll get taught how to create records from start to finish using a tried and tested method from many top industry heads.
Toolroom Academy was invented to help nurture & create the next generation of talent in House, Tech House, and Techno.
We’d love to help you get to the next level with your productions!