Remixing Guide: How to Remix a Song in 5 Steps

Last Updated on March 9th, 2020 at 5:27 pm

remix a song

Over the past few decades, remixes have become an important music production part.

What began as a DIY practice in early dancehall and DJ culture has become a worldwide phenomenon with its own category in the Grammys.

In this post, We will go through everything you should know about remixes and how to get began making your own remix to get more fans.

What’s a remix?

A remix is a different version of a song created by changing, altering, or expanding its original elements. A remix could be easy as changing the tones and textures or as radical as completely reimagining the harmony and rhythm.

As long as the raw material came from an existing track it could be considered a remix.

What can I remix?

Before we get into how to make your own remixes, there’s a big problem with remixing that needs to be addressed.

As soon as your song includes audio that is not original or properly licensed, your launch course will get far more sophisticated.

Normally, you could not get around utilizing copyrighted material if you are creating a remix—you need existing songs for raw material after all.

Your only hope is to get permission from the copyright holder to make an official remix.

However, the opportunities that you will get a high profile artist to approve your remix are slim.

And even then you might struggle to find a method to distribute your remix to the major streaming platforms because of copyright issues.

How to find songs to remix

find songs to remix

Despite all that, there are still ways to make remixes legally.

One effective option is to select remix material from an artist that you could feasibly get in touch with.

This can be somebody in your community or somebody with the same or barely bigger following online.

For 2 producers with similar traction, this kind of relationship could be mutually useful. You will expose your audience to their work—and their fans will get to listen to your take on it.

To benefit from this technique you will have to be active in the communities that cope with your genre online—and in the real world.

Keep an eye out for what artists just above your level of exposure are up to. When you are serious about taking on a remix, contact them and ask. The worst they could do is say no.

However, don’t go forward till you get permission—you would not want somebody to use your tracks unless you agreed would you?

The other simple option is to join remix contests.

Remix contests have become prevalent online because they show how different producers could make radically different outcomes with the same source material.

Contests could sometimes provide access to raw tracks from big-name artists at no cost. That is an amazing chance to get to find remix material you should not pass up.

Fair warning—even when you have gone to all that trouble, you still might encounter difficulties with digital distribution in terms of remixes.

Many distributors do not offer to license for remixes, so you can find yourself out of luck for getting your remix on streaming platforms.

How to remix a song

With the basics covered, let’s get into the details. Right here’s how to remix a song in 5 steps:

1. Get your source material

We went through how to select a track to remix above, however, when you have determined you will have to cope with the raw material.

Generally, you will be working with stems when you remix a song.

Stems are bounced files of the individual elements of a session.

In some cases, you may get stems of every single file on the timeline, however, more often stems will be exports of instrument groups with some tracks bounced down together.

That means you will likely be taking a look at a folder with individual stereo files for each instrument

2. Find the key and tempo

To create an original remix you will have to add your own parts alongside whatever items of the track you’re taking from the existing stems.

To hold everything in sync, you will have to detect the tempo.

There are different ways to accomplish this relying on which DAW you utilize.

Ableton automatically detects the tempo of a clip utilizing the warp function.

Simply set the master tempo of your session to the detected tempo of your drum stem and unwarp the original clip to get it in sync.

Finding the song key requires a bit more musical knowledge.

One simple method to do it is by playing along to the track with your instrument or MIDI controller.

You will get a clue if you find a note that sounds in tune with the rest of the song.

The next step is to decide which scale degree you have found. As you hear the song, attempt to identify the chord that feels most stable—the harmonic area that feels like the “home” of the track.

The trick to finding the key is to evaluate the musical interval between your note and the home harmony. You will have to experiment here too, however, you could always go back to your initial note when you get stuck.

When you do it several times you will get a handle on the technique and you will be able to do it more quickly.

However, don’t let the original key keep you back. A few of the best remixes take the source material wildly out of context.

3. Determine what to keep

The point of a remix is to put your own stamp on a song—not make something completely unrecognizable.

You will need to preserve at least a few of the defining features of the original track.

Distinctive instrumental hooks and recognizable lyrics or samples are simple choices for elements to keep.

You definitely wish to put your own spin on them, however, these features could help give listeners cues about what they are listening to.

Try to identify the part of the track you think is most essential and integrate it into your remix in a compelling method.

4. Decide what to leave out

The elements you determine to cut say just as much as what you keep.

You could be picky, or make broad sweeping gestures for effect.

Sometimes deleting an essential central element could refocus the track in a completely new direction.

Or just calling attention to the best parts by getting rid of the distractions could be the best move.

Making a negative space is a particularly fascinating choice. Minimal remixes could be extra powerful for how much they reveal.

5. Determine what to add

Right here’s where making a remix gets creative.

Including your own original elements is how you put your own stamp on your remix.

The best factor about making a remix is that there are no rules—follow your creative impulses and add something that feels right.

From left-field samples to expressive synth patches or new elements you record yourself, anything’s fair game.

Use the chance to showcase your creativity.

Remix and mingle

Remixes are here to stay.

It’s simple to see why this fun and prevalent production exercise has an essential place in the scene today.

Whether you are looking to put your own spin on a fresh tune or pay homage to a classic, making a remix is a great strategy

Now that you understand the basics of how to remix, it’s time to get back to your DAW and start to remix a song.

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