The idea of developing a signature sound that is all your own can be daunting because it seems near impossible to carve out a bit of sound space that is all yours. The good news is there are many ways you can do this! This can also be a tad overwhelming but I’ve broken down the key approaches over 4 posts.
This post focuses on how production can help to define your sound.
There are also these points to consider:
Vocal Ability & Nuance
So here comes my disclaimer – when you have areas that aren’t within your knowledge base or comfort zone, it pays to outsource! These tips are my observations of what I have needed to do, have seen done & would recommend you do! I have produced vocals for myself & others but leave the music production, mixing & mastering to the experts!
Firstly for your voice – find a vocal coach if you need help with your singing technique, styling & performance or studio delivery & a vocal or music producer to help you define the sound that you are looking for when recording your music.
Your producer should have some insights & in roads to the mixing & mastering process.
You need to be able to work with someone that you trust has your best interest & vision at heart plus you like what they have done with other artists.
So we go back to that crucial listening step. Research a few different producers & get a list of your top 3. Budget, availability or involvement interest means you need options! The one you want most may just not vibe on your vision so you’ll need to keep looking.
Doing your own production is fine also, especially if you have done your research & know exactly what you want. I would still advise you get a team of people or industry professionals that are experienced & you trust to listen & give feedback in the demo stage before you lock anything down.
So, what makes a song or album’s production stand out?
Layers, Effects & Space
You can experiment with layers (on vocals & instruments), effects or even sparseness. Look at what has been done in the past & think about how you can refresh the sound in a new way.
Highlight or feature one thing – the voice, lyrics, an instrument or unique sound. Be careful of gimmicks though. Think of some of the ‘one hit wonders’ you make have encountered in the last ten years (i.e.; Macarena, What does the fox say, Crazy frog). These have used gimmicks to spotlight their music (even though they are well done & clever!) so you may need to look for a stand out moment in your songs that are more lyric or message driven.
Work with a vocal producer & arranger to help you with the stylistic delivery of your songs & the backing harmonies or layers that you can add to get the sound you want. This can be a real game changer to make you sound your best, or deliver your story in a way that connects with the audience better.
Make Great Demos & Tweak Lots!
This is really important so you can get an idea of what you are going for & then you can review or pass on to your trusted insiders to give feedback on. You want demos to capture, as best you can, your ideas so that you can present them confidently. A solid foundation will make it easier for trusted industry folk to see you vision & give you helpful feedback to improve or shape the tracks positively.
You can also more easily reflect on your work after a few days outside of the studio to see what could be tweaked.
Playing your songs live before you hit the studio can also help you solidify the sound that you want once you do start recording.
There are many more layers to the production process & you can check out some of the masters at work like Greg Wells or Max Martin if you want to get an insight into the inner workings of the top pop producers.
If you are thinking, “how on earth does this relate to me as a singer?”, I really believe singers should have a basic understanding of all elements of the entertainment industry to have a long & engaged career plus a clear idea of the bigger picture & how we all fit into it!
Just letting you know that this is as production heavy as I will go! I do however know how to set up & mix my own sound, which we should really go over in another post!!
If you have questions, post them below & let me know, who are your favourite vocal & music producers? What ground breaking sounds/albums stand out for you?
It’s good to know all things singing!