So you’ve got a track you want remixed, but what is a remix pack and how do you make a good one?
I’ve been doing a lot of remixes lately which got me thinking: “What is it about a particular track that makes me want to add my flavor to it?” and “What makes me lose interest in a production?” I’ve come up with several ideas, and want to share them with you. As remixes become a popular way to gain notoriety and respect in the growing online producer community, many various types of packs become available for you to play with. Some packs are good, some are bad, and some are just outright ugly. I am sure many have various opinions on the subject and the role of this article will be to examine some thoughts I’ve had, and to open the flood gates for commentary.
In my experience, I’ve always desired to remix work which reaches out to me in one way or another. Most of the time, for me, its the melody. My remix style is generally an ‘overhaul’ style, as I like to call it. I like to take one or a few elements from a track and make them into something new, while maintaining the motif and allure of the original. For the purpose of this article I’ll focus on this style of remix as it is, in my opinion, one of the more comprehensive styles of remix.
When creating a pack its important to keep in mind that there will be a large variety in production styles for those willing to remix your track. Also keep in mind that different producers use different tools to work on music.
I propose these postulates of the remix pack:
* In my opinion, the best remix pack should be composed of all – or most – of the original elements which you used in your track.
* The pack should always be in .wav format, for universality purposes and to provide the highest quality of sound.
* The samples in the pack should be rendered as separate channels, in full or cut length of the track.
* You can include a melodic or bassline variation of something you used in your original. This will let people add an element to the remix which wasn’t available in the original production.
* Don’t forget to include some or all of the fx you used in your track. This will allow the remixer to maintain a similar transition style which compliments the original. While not everyone likes to do this, its a nice thing to have, particularly if you used some really interesting fx in the original production.
* The pack should feature two versions of some or all of the samples. One version is the ‘wet’ version, meaning rendered with all of the effects which you used in the original. One version is the ‘dry’ version, which provides the original elements without any of the effects.
My personal preference is to always get ‘dry’ samples, particularly when dealing with vocals. If all of the samples are ‘wet’ this limits the amount which can be done to them significantly. This mostly applies to delay, reverb, glitching and filters. ‘Wet’ samples do have a unique place as well, however, since they allow the remixer to have access to the exact sound you used, which they may not know how to, or not have the tools, to recreate themselves.
* Sometimes [if the track has a complex melodic or bassline structure] its nice to include a MIDI of your bassline or melody. Personally, if I don’t write and entirely new one, I like to use elements of an original bassline, change the instrument, and write a new variation. Adding a MIDI gives the remixer a glimpse into the structure of your track and doesn’t limit them to using your sample, solely.
Some faux pas of remix packs, which I have observed or experienced are:
* Including samples in a pack to which you don’t have the rights, like commercial loops or parts of others’ tracks. This should never be done, as it can get you and your remixer in trouble. Always include only original samples in your remix pack.
* Providing a limited amount of samples greatly hinders the ability of and interest for someone to remix your work. When creating a remix pack, think about whether this is something you personally would be interested in spending your time working on.
* If you are not, in one way or another, compensating the remixer, and you have not provided a deadline for the remix, try not to follow up with them on completion timing excessively. Putting pressure on someone to finish a creative project usually leads to a messy, partially-finished project or complete loss of motivation and interest. A lot of producers have full-time jobs, families and other responsibilities and don’t always have time to spend hours in the studio working on a project every day.
Remixes are intended to be fun, so let the remixer have the freedom they need to complete the project to the point where they are 100% satisfied in presenting it to you. If you need the remix for a promo or an event, be sure to let the remixer know of your time constraint request before they agree to take on a project.
* Do not ask the remixer to see a work-in-progress. A lot of producers take great pride in their work and may be offended by such a request, or they may not feel confident in providing you with something they are not completely happy with.
* Not providing terms for the remix is a big faux pas. Whether it sounds pointless or not, always give at least some general guidelines to the remixer(s), in advance, on how the samples can be used. Are they copyrighted to you or your label? Will you allow the remixer to post the track for download, streams, at all? Be sure to specify how this remix can be used by the remixer, and how you plan to use this remix. Try to be fair to the remixer for their effort, after all, they are investing their time into helping you gain exposure.
* Don’t provide a mid-quality limited sample pack for free and then ask the remixer(s) to pay you for better quality samples, or more of them. (I’m wagging my finger at you Fedde Le Grand’s label) If you want someone to remix your work, be diligent in extending a courtesy to the remixer for spending their time in working on your project.
That’s all I can think of as far as remix packs go, and I hope this brings some conversation out, as I am interested in hearing your opinions on this as well.
Thanks to all of the iDJ members who have given me remix packs to work on over the last few years, you’ve helped contribute to this article to a large extent!