What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?
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Old 18-09-2011, 02:20 AM   #1
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What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

I'm currently working on a song and I am really confused on how to make it sound really professional. Some of it must be from mastering, but I feel like music made by professional artists have a distinguishing trait. My melody is there, but it's still missing something.

Anybody know what it is? Is it effects? Transitions?

here's a visual to convey my point. the one on the left represents me, and the one on the right represents really good artists

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Old 18-09-2011, 03:09 AM   #2
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

Lots of things. Thousands of dollars on equipment and professional audio engineers for one.

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Old 18-09-2011, 03:12 AM   #3
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

Record labels. People that do some of the work for them.

I would kill to have an engineer, producer and mixer all helping me out!!!
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Old 18-09-2011, 03:15 AM   #4
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

did you draw that yourself?

also i completely disagree with Vlantis. expensive equipment and professional audio engineers are not necessarily relevant any more (especially in electronic music). it's just about developing a bag of tricks and failing over and over and over until eventually you do something right. funny thing is you will never be good enough for your standards, but some day you'll listen to something written by yourself when you were just starting out and you'll think "damn, my stuff sounds pretty good compared to this".

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Old 18-09-2011, 03:21 AM   #5
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

Well, I wasn't speaking strictly about electronic music. But it still applies to some extent.

IG88's newest sounded EXCEPTIONAL. When I asked him how he got it sounding so good, he told me he was lucky enough to have access to a studio and an engineer for this release.

$100 mastering VST's and guys who master your tracks for $50-$100 aren't enough to get it sounding as professional as the big boys.

That being said, my Izotope Ozone 4 vst works good enough for me.

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Old 18-09-2011, 03:57 AM   #6
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

knowing your sound design and mixing helps. its like all the shading and detail in that picture.

the melody is like the line drawing you did, the content is there.

"needing" an engineer and "pro studio" to write tracks that sound "pro" is the kind of cop out that people make who don't have the skills to do it themselves.

could you hire someone to color and shade your picture?? sure. would you be better off if you could do it yourself?? most definitely.

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Old 18-09-2011, 04:02 AM   #7
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

Unless you have down syndrome. Just doing the lines is hard enough!

/politicallyincorrect/
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Old 18-09-2011, 05:27 AM   #8
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

I'd say it has alot to do with having an expert brain available in a production capacity to work for you, i.e. an AE or a producer.

With today's technology the gear isn't as important as it used to be but the choice of sounds are. If you're a kick ass musician and know your stuff obviously you'll fare better in a studio with the right peeps working with you on production. Always helps to have a second or third set of ears to get different perspectives.
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Old 18-09-2011, 05:45 AM   #9
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

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Originally Posted by chasedestroy View Post
"needing" an engineer and "pro studio" to write tracks that sound "pro" is the kind of cop out that people make who don't have the skills to do it themselves.
Like I said, I wasn't speaking only of electronic music.

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Old 18-09-2011, 06:05 AM   #10
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

There's no simple answer. It's many things. I agree with what has been said above. Tools, team, skills, etc.
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Old 18-09-2011, 06:20 AM   #11
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

mixing and mastering plays SUCH A BIG PART. you wouldn't even realize.
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Old 18-09-2011, 06:52 AM   #12
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtregoat View Post
mixing and mastering plays SUCH A BIG PART. you wouldn't even realize.
This more than anything.

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Old 18-09-2011, 06:54 AM   #13
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

There's no magic button, it's a complicated combination of...

arrangement
composition
sound selection
balance, clarity, and tone of the mix
quality of the Master
monitoring environment
experience
patience

Mastering is not THE answer, its just small variable in the equation. Trust me.

Work on your song writing skills, crafting your sounds, and perfecting your mix downs. Small, minute tweaks (1 to 2 dB here or there) go a long way so try to improve your listening skills and train your ear.

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Old 18-09-2011, 07:00 AM   #14
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

it's not gear alone. If you stepped into (insert famous artist here)'s studio you wouldn't make a gold or platinum album, even if you had the same audio engineers and mastering.

First and foremost is composition, anyone who's made it (and is not the front man for a songwriter) is going to be a very good composer or at the very least knows their genre/sound well and continues to make catchy or "good" music in that genre. As an example Solja boy (love him or hate him) produced his first hit single with a trial version of fruity loops. Now say what you want about his lyrical content, he became the youngest person to ever write, produce and perform a platinum album. It was a very catchy song and showed a lot of creativity for a 17 year old

I would say composition is king, if you can make a great song compositionally, you can hire the folks to clean it up mix and master it. However if you try to clean up a terrible song it will never work. I don't think composition can be taught as easily and not everyone has "it".

Then there's a huge component of luck, timing, marketing, image etc. There's plenty of folks with PHD's in composition who you've never heard of and never will. the majority of them can probably lay down really good tracks too, but it takes more than being good to make it.

Now adays with several years of practice it's possible for a home composer to make an electronic release that is on par with commercial releases. The cost is falling rapidly, but there will still be a difference between a very good composer with a good technical team behind them, and you working by yourself.

that being said many classic and famous IDM songs had no audio engineer or mastering guy, just one person. Composition will always trump a polished turd.
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Old 18-09-2011, 07:01 AM   #15
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

I may have gotten off on the wrong foot with this thread. I didn't mean to imply that ONLY spending lots of money to have other people mix and master your tracks for you will immediately make you sound like a professional.

I mean, of course the song itself is extremely important. If you've been making music for two weeks, you probably won't be making songs that are as good as people who've been doing it for five plus years (there are exceptions, so nobody jump on me about that! ), but just in terms of "sounding professional" a lot has to do with the gear and engineering going into it.

I've got some songs of mine I like, that sound pretty good to me in terms of mastering and such, but I'm sure the songs would sound much better if I had access to a real studio and people who really knew what they were doing.

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Old 18-09-2011, 07:44 AM   #16
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trace Elements View Post
It was a very catchy song and showed a lot of creativity for a 17 year old
That's not right in the least bit.
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Old 18-09-2011, 07:55 AM   #17
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

Mischjok has some things to say:

-Itīs not the gear, but the know how. You donīt need to spend millions on analog devices in order to have a great recording. Some great albums have been produced on a tight budget and some bad sounding ones in great studios. Metallicaīs "Death magnetic" is a great example of what can happen at a professional studio, with a professional producer on board. It sounds terrible, itīs too compressed and clips all the time. Not even an amateur would have produced something like that. On the other hand, this song was produced at the guitaristīs bedroom and it sounds great:


-A great producer alone wonīt get you a good album, you need good sound engineers backing him up...guitar techs, probably a vocal coach...as far as electronic music is concerned, some people will engage producers to master a finished track. The results wonīt always be spectacular. Refer to Front Line Assemblyīs "Artificial Soldier".
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Old 18-09-2011, 08:20 AM   #18
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

Was Death Magnetic the one with all the tin sounding drums?

Ugh, I hate vocals that sound like the ones in the song you posted
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Old 18-09-2011, 09:53 AM   #19
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

Years of experience being a real musician will help a lot.
You don't need expensive gear as long as you know what you're doing, and have a basic set of tools.

"What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?"
Is kind of a question that can't have a defined answer though, it's like asking "give me a formula for beauty"

I get a lot of tracks sent my way and it's not hard to tell the more experienced producers from the newbees.
How? is hard to define

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Old 18-09-2011, 09:54 AM   #20
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Re: What seperates professional songs and songs made by amateurs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rewriter View Post
Was Death Magnetic the one with all the tin sounding drums?

Ugh, I hate vocals that sound like the ones in the song you posted
I also hate whiny vocals, but the production is very good, considering it wasnīt recorded nor mastered at a professional studio, but as previously said, at the guitaristīs bedroom-cum-studio.

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