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Who doesn't like a good remix?
Sometimes a remix is even better than the original!
But why should you care about remixing when you can go right into making originals? Why remix, and where did it start from anyways?
As a music producer, you might want to consider starting your journey by remixing rather than producing originals.
The process will be more straightforward because you have some starting elements: vocals, drums, FX, structure, and ultimately building blocks to work with rather than a completely empty canvas.
Some people remix songs to make them sound different, and others remix songs to make them their own. When you remix a song, you grow and flourish as a producer by experimenting with an existing idea and adding your own vision through new sounds and elements. It also helps improve your workflow, arrangement skills, and sound design abilities.
How can you remix a song without making it sound too close to the original piece? Where do you start? It's hard to be authentically creative without experience. But all you have to do is try. Try different ideas, instruments, techniques, and samples until you find something that works for you. There are endless creative ways. You can make it as simple or complex as you want. The most important thing is to have fun with it and see where your creativity takes you.
Then, the notion of copyright always seems to come up. You must ensure you have the legal right to remix the song before you start working on it. Remixing a song without permission from the artist will make it hard to distribute and share your track with the world. Worry not — this is where we discuss the difference between official and unofficial remixes (bootlegs).
Finally, there are so many remixes online—how does yours get heard? There are ways to promote (distribute) your remixes, such as sharing them on social media and music streaming platforms, submitting them to online radio stations and music blogs, and giving them away for free.
At the end of this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about remixing, from start to finish.
What is a remix, and how is it different from an original song?
A remix is a musical piece that alters from its original version.
Think about electronic music originals. These tracks are typically multilayered, with drums, vocals, bass, synth, and vocal tracks.
Let's say you enjoyed the melody. Take that as the original idea. You can now deconstruct the original mix and reconstruct your remix using your own sample sounds, synths, and rhythmic elements.
The difference between a remix and an original song is that a remix is based on an existing song, while an original song is created from scratch. Remixing allows producers to experiment with different sounds and styles, and it can help them learn how to produce their own songs.
Sometimes, remixes can inspire original productions. That's because the remix gains so much notoriety that the original producer may want to capitalize on it. In that case, they'll create a track with a similar feel to the remix or sign it to their record label and add the prefix "official" to the word remix.
We'll cover a few case studies later in this article.
📖 A brief history of remixing
Remixing has been around for almost as long as music has been recorded. In the early days of recording, artists often reused parts of other songs to create new tracks. This practice was known as sampling, a way for artists to create new music without starting from scratch.
You can say it all started in the late 1960s when Jamaican producers such as King Tubby and Lee "Scratch" Perry began experimenting with reggae tracks, adding new and removing instrumentation and vocals to create "versions" of the original. This style of remixing, known as dub, became hugely popular in Jamaica and later spread to other parts of the world.
Here's an example: Paradigm Shift Riddim Version (Dub/Instrumental) produced by Cally B from Small Axe Entertainment. Here's the same riddim, with all the artists that voiced the riddim.
Versions became hugely popular in the late 1990s early 2000s. Dancehall producers started releasing riddims with an instrumental track called "version," where multiple artists could voice their tracks. These tracks would often be played on the radio and in clubs. They helped introduce a new generation of listeners to dancehall music, especially when Vybz Kartel, Movado and Bounty Killer came to the scene.
Then came the 1970s, when remixing took off with the advent of disco. DJs would often extend the length of a song by repeating the chorus, adding a new verse, or lengthening the break. This allowed them to keep dancers on the floor for longer and create a more dynamic experience.
In the 1980s, hip-hop producers began using samples from other songs to create new tracks. This practice became so commonplace that it led to the development of a new genre known as rap.
In the 2010s, the electronic music community underwent a similar initiative. We've seen the rise of electronic dance music (EDM) and the popularity of DJs such as Skrillex and Diplo. With the help of computer software, DJs have created their own versions of existing tracks, leading to the popularity of remixes.
Today, remixing is more popular than ever. With digital technology, anyone can create a remix with just a computer and an internet connection. You don't need expensive equipment or a record label to get started.
🕺 Why make a remix?
Now that you know that remixing isn't new, why should you even bother? Why not start from scratch? Why use someone else's idea?
For one, it can be a great starting point. If you're new to music production, it can be tough to know where to start. Remixing is a great way to get your feet wet and learn the ropes of music production.
It can also be a fun challenge to see if you can improve on someone else's track. Can you make it sound better? Can you add your own personal touch?
And, of course, there's the fact that remixes can be massive hits in their own right. Some of the biggest tracks in recent years have been remixes. So if you're looking for a way to make a name for yourself in the music world, creating a killer remix is a great way to do it.
Remixing is a skill to learn
Like any practical skill, remixing is a part of music production that you can learn and get better at with time and practice and ... the sooner, the better.
Just think about how many ways you can take a vocal and chop it into different parts and how many ways you can arrange your track. Then there's the whole world of sound design to get into.
Think about the creative input you need not to sound too close to the original.
What's the point?
The point is that remixing is an incredibly powerful tool for creative expression.
It's a way to take someone else's musical idea and make it your own. It's a way to put your own spin on things and create something new and fresh.
It's not something easy to do well, but it's worth learning how to do.
Remixing builds your network
You might be aware of this, but when you create a remix, you tap into different genres, which ultimately means different markets.
For example, imagine taking an early 2000 pop song and remixing it into a deep house track. By doing so, you expose yourself to people who like that original pop song and those who are interested in deeper, more underground sounds.
This is an opportunity to build your network: it allows you to have a conversation with people in the pop and underground worlds and reach record labels in both spectrums of the industry.
In other words, it allows you to network.
Networking in the music industry is key, and by building a strong network, you are increasing your chances of being heard, working with other artists and labels, drawing a fan base and ultimately making a name for yourself in the industry.
It all comes down to numbers: the more people you know, the more likely it is that one of them will be interested in what you do.
It's a great way to get your name out there and be heard by new people.
Remixing can be easier than making original music
A lot goes into making original music: from coming up with ideas to arranging and producing them, it can be a heavy weight on your creative flow.
With remixing, on the other hand, you're starting with something that's already been made, which means you can focus more on the creative aspects of the process.
This is not to say that remixing is easy: it still takes a lot of time, effort and skill to do it well. But it can be a great way to get into music production without starting from scratch every single time.
Plus, it's always good to have remixes in your portfolio: they show that you're versatile and can work with different sounds and styles.
❓ Can you remix a song without permission?
It depends on what type of remix and what you intend to do with the final track. If you're looking to create an official remix, then the answer is no, you absolutely need the artist/label/publisher's permission before you can distribute and release your version.
However, if you are simply producing a remix as a private work, then it may be permissible under certain copyright laws, such as Fair Use or Transformative Use. Ultimately, however, it is always best to get the necessary permissions and licenses before distributing a remix to ensure that you are not infringing on someone else's copyright. Additionally, some countries have laws in place to protect songwriters from derivative works, which can also require permission from the original rights holders.
Now you might ask, how are all these people remixing music on social media like Tik Tok and Instagram reels and getting away with it? Well, most streaming platforms have agreements in place with labels and rights holders so that users can post their remixes without fear of legal repercussions. However, if you are looking to monetize a song or make your own official release, it is always best to seek permission from the artist/label/publisher before doing so.
Similarly, remix competition websites such as Splice and Indaba Music often have legal agreements in place with the artist/label that allow users to submit their remixes without fear of being sued. So if you're looking to make an official release, it is definitely worth checking out those services.
In short, while it may be possible to remix a song without permission in certain situations, it is always best to get the necessary licenses and permissions before you distribute a remix. Doing so will ensure that your work is legally sound and that you won't be liable for copyright infringement.
Ultimately, the best course of action is to consult with a copyright attorney or music industry expert if you are unsure about your remixing project. They can help you navigate any legal issues that may arise and provide advice on how to properly obtain permission for your remix.
What are the Different Types of Remixes?
There are four main types of remixes:
✌️ Official Remix
This type of remix is commissioned by the artist or label that owns the copyright to the original song. An official remix usually has the artist's blessing and is often released as part of the original song's marketing campaign. To start, you must obtain a stem pack from the artist or label. Original stems or stems pack is a collection of the individual tracks (or stems) that make up a song. These tracks can include drums, bass, guitar, vocals, and other original recording elements. You will then use these tracks to create your version of the new song.
💃 Unofficial Remix
This type of remix is not commissioned by the artist or label that owns the copyright to the original song. They differ from bootlegs and fan remixes because they don't use unlicensed or leaked material but rather work with legitimately acquired tracks and stems. Unofficial remixes are also not released on the artist's record label but may be widely distributed and promoted by the creator.
The legality of unofficial remixes is murky, as there is no explicit permission from the copyright holder to create and distribute the remix. In some cases, unofficial remixes have been embraced by the artist and labels and gone on to achieve commercial success (examples include Danger Mouse's "Grey Album," Tiesto's "Flight 643," and Kygo's "Cut Your Teeth," "High For This," and "Sexual Healing").
🎨 Fan (Cover) Remix
Fans of the original song create this remix. Fan remixes are usually produced for personal use and are not meant to be sold or distributed. They are made to show appreciation for the original artist and their work.
Covers are usually made by artists who enjoy the original song and want to perform it themselves. There are two types of covers: live and studio. Live covers are recorded in front of an audience, while studio covers are recorded in a professional studio.
Both fan remixes and covers are made for personal or commercial purposes. If you plan to sell your remix or cover, you will need permission from the original song's copyright holder.
🥾 Bootleg Remix
A bootleg remix is a remix created without the permission of the artist or label that owns the copyright to the original song. While bootleg remixes are not officially sanctioned, they can still be widely circulated and enjoyed by many people. If you want to create a bootleg remix, you can find the individual tracks online or sample your own.
Here's a classic example of a bootleg made by Swedish House Mafia that has been playing for over 10 years:
❓ Question: Can you remix music legally?
For the legal remix of songs, a user must contact the song's author or producer and obtain permission. If a collaboration for an official remix is accepted, a signed contract will be required to describe the distribution of royalty payments. Otherwise, the artist may release the song under a Creative Commons license, allowing the work to be used without permission. This license means you can use the song for free if you give appropriate credit.
How to remix a song
When you are remixing, you already have a starting point, a point of reference, with ideas and elements you can use rather than composing everything from scratch.
You can keep the original melody and chord progression yet still have a unique remix. Yet you can also edit the melody and general composition of the track and simply keep the vocals.
Why create something completely new when you can build on what already exists? If there's a chord progression that you like, use it as a foundation and build on top of it.
For that reason, to remix any song, the first step will be to gather the appropriate material for your project.
🪵 Gathering material
Before jumping into production mode, you must search and organize the essential components you will use. This includes the original song and any samples or loops you want to use in your remix.
If you're not using sound samples, you might want to look for an acapella (a track with only the vocals) of the original song.
Acapellas are great because they give you a lot of flexibility: you can change the tempo, pitch, and arrangement without affecting the vocals. This means you can create a completely new track while keeping the original vocals.
You can find vocal acapella online, but be aware that they might not be the best quality. It's always best to get them directly from the artist or label through stems (discussed below) or resort to a more traditional sampling method.
Choosing the right song
The first step to remixing is choosing the right song, genre, samples and inspirational direction.
Choose something interesting. Something that jumps at you. Something you can chop and edit and use creatively.
You can choose a genre you're somewhat familiar with and enjoy. You'll also want to consider the key and tempo of the song as starting points. These will dictate the difficulty of working with vocals and other loops. The timing of the samples is everything.
And finally, pay attention to the lyrics of the song. Make sure they don't contain any lyrics that are difficult or impossible to change.
Now that you've found the perfect song to remix, it's time to start working on your remix. You'll first need to listen to the original track and note all the different elements. Ensure you pay attention to the drums, bass, melody, and lyrics. Once you understand the original song well, you can start experimenting with different ways to change it.
Finding (or extracting) stems
What are stems?
Stems are the individual tracks that make up a song. For example, the drums, bass, and vocals are all stem tracks.
Why do I even need stems?
If you want to create a proper remix, it's important that you have high-quality, original studio-type stems to work with. This will make it easier for you to change the song creatively and produce a professional-sounding result.
Without stems, you'll be limited to working with the original track, making it difficult to create a completely new version of the song because you don't have access to the individual parts of the track. You'll have to resort to sampling, which can be time-consuming and difficult to do well.
Ok, now that definitions are out of the way, the next step is to actually find stems.
Start by going to your favourite artist's website. For example, here's Gareth Emery's website, where he supplies stems to help you build your remix.
Practical advice: If the stem pack is not organized, you should take the time to do it yourself. relabel the sample, and organize the folder structure.
Many artists, record labels, and other online music platforms will distribute royalty-free or paid song stems. Run a few Google searches and see what comes up.
You can also look at SoundCloud and YouTube. Artists and producers are constantly posting their works on these platforms. Use the search function and look for terms such as "Acapella," "Stems," or "Multitracks."
Once you find a song, you want to remix, check the description to see if there are any links to download the stems. If not, reach out to the artist or producer and ask if they have any stems available.
Begin by listening to the original track and brainstorming some ideas on how you can change it.
Don't over-listen to the song.
You want to avoid getting too familiar with the melody and arrangement to stay creative and experiment with different ideas. Getting caught up in trying to recreate what's already been done is easy, but that's not the goal here.
The point of a remix is to put your own spin on the song and make it your own. So give yourself some space from the original track and return to it later with fresh ears.
Remember, you are not starting from scratch.
The original song was written on a specific scale (harmonic key) that had been predetermined. You could decide to keep the same key or transpose the pitch up/down. You can also leave the key untouched and match the rest of your elements to that base key. Then you'll need to find the root note of the song and work around it.
Practical advice: Use your DAW's tuner on the bass or chord track to find the root note of the track.
So the takeaway point here is that when you are building your original track, you decide on the key based on your chords, melody, or certain sample selection, whereas when you're remixing, that key is essentially predetermined for you, and you have the option to keep it or change a few semitones.
Similar to the key, the tempo is predetermined by the original track you are working with. However, changing the tempo could be slightly easier than changing the key.
Practical advice: Use the tap feature of your DAW to find the root BPM of a track.
The tempo can likely dictate the genre of your remix and the feel. A slower tempo is usually more relaxed (think RnB, Hip Hop), while a higher tempo is more energetic (EDM, Trance, Drum and Bass).
Again, you can choose to keep the original tempo or change it to suit the genre you are going for.
Do you know the number one reason producers have for giving up on projects?
They get stuck.
They get stuck into the endless 8-bar loop and never proceed further.
The bottomless 8-bar loop that drains the living soul out of every producer. You keep playing that loop, hoping something new will jump at you, only to be left less creative than when you started until you ultimately give up.
The arrangement is the key to success.
Your track's arrangement will dictate whether you finish your project or not. You will always know what to do and where you're going. It gives you direction to proceed forward.
Now, since you are working on a remix, it's up to you: do you want to alter the original arrangement of the track or keep it the same? Do you want to shorten it or make it longer?
We recommend adding markers to your project. You should add markers for the original track at different timings to get a visual idea of where each section begins and ends. This will help you understand how the track was put together and give you ideas for changing the arrangement.
Once you understand the arrangement, you can start to get creative with how you want to rearrange it. Start with considering each section of the song: the intro, verse, chorus, beak and so on.
What do you want to keep? What do you want to change?
Practical advice: Start placing markers for your rearranged version.
You can also start proposing different transition points between sections. Transition points are impacts, FX sweeps, swells, atmos, etc.
They help the listener understand where one section ends and another begins. They also help you as a producer connect different sections of your track together so it flows better.
Now that you have all the starting workflow points, we can get into the fun and creative stuff we can do to spice up originals and turn them into fully-fledged remixes.
🎨 Creative Approaches
Although there are endless ways to be creative with your remix, we're going to focus on 3 main approaches:
- The conservative approach
- The destructive approach
- The innovative approach
The first two approaches are more about working with what you have, whereas the third is about being completely original.
The Conservative Approach
This approach is all about working with the original elements and manipulating them in a way that doesn't stray too far from the feel of the original track. TO go about this, you need to consider the following:
- The key
- The tempo
- The arrangement
When working with the arrangement, you want to consider each section of the track and how you can manipulate it without straying too far from the original feel. For example, you might want to remove a certain section or repeat another.
As for the key and tempo, you want to consider keeping them the same or changing them slightly. Changing the key might alter the feel, so we recommend keeping it the same. Tempo is a different story; you can experiment with changing the tempo slightly and see how it affects the track.
A great example would be Flume's remix of Disclosure's "You & Me."
He took the original parts, reworked them and added his own elements, but at its core, it still feels like a Disclosure track. He achieved this by using the same chord progression and some of the main melody.
"My remix of "You & Me" was an exercise in minimalism for me. I wanted to see how few elements I could use from the original and still have the track make sense."
So, the conservative approach is about working with original elements and manipulating them to create your own version while keeping the feel of the original track. Think minimalist. Think about how you can use less to achieve more.
The destructive approach
The destructive approach is the polar opposite of the conservative approach. Carefree and all about reducing and removing the elements of the original track. Change everything you possibly can. Really the opposite of minimalism because you have so much to add to achieve change.
The destructive approach is about being very creative with sound design and arrangement. You want to consider the following:
- Sound design
You want to think about creating your own unique sounds using VST like Serum, Massive or Sylenth. This might involve using different oscillators, wavetables, and heavy effects such as EQs, reverbs, and delays to achieve your desired sound.
For drums, get creative with different kinds of percussion and drum sounds. You can also experiment with sidechaining, panning, groove/swing, and other effects to change the drumming of the track.
And for synths, you want to consider creating new melody lines and chord progressions. This is a great opportunity to be original and come up with something that sounds completely different from the original track.
A great example of the destructive approach would be Sabb ft. Rafa Barrios - "Illusiones" who took the acapella track from 1973 Cecilia Todd - Canto De Ordeño.
The original vocals were chopped and reduced, and then all new and original elements were added to create a completely original track. They changed the tempo and key. The final product sounds nothing like the original Latin track.
Rafa Barrios said:
"Whenever I prepare new material, I do it as if I was dancing on a dancefloor."
Another great example of this approach would be Basement Jaxx's remix of "Romeo." They took the acapella from 1978 Cloud One feat. Margo Williams - "Don't Let This Rainbow Pass Me By" and built an entirely new track around it. The only recognizable element is the vocal.
So, the destructive approach is about being creative with sound design and changing everything possible about the original track. This is where you tear the original track apart and rebuild it from the ground up. You might only keep a few elements or samples; the rest is completely original.
The innovative approach
The innovative approach is a mix of the first two approaches. You want to be both destructive and conservative. This means you want to keep some elements the same while also changing others.
The elements you want to consider keeping are usually the vocals, chords and melody. These are the most important parts of the track that will help listeners identify your remix. If you change these too much, your remix might lose its identity.
A great example would be Calvin Harris's remix of "Promises." He took some of the original parts, added his own style and elements and completely changed the genre from dubstep to a mainroom EDM club banger.
Calvin Harris said
"I was sent the stems to 'Promises' with the intention of me doing a remix for club play. I liked some of the parts, but not all, so I decided to see what would happen if I took just the bits I liked, changed the tempo slightly and rewrote everything else."
The innovative approach is about balancing the destructive and conservative approaches. You want to change some elements while keeping others the same. This is where you can be creative and come up with something that sounds unique but retains the original track's feel.
Applying the approaches
The approach you take is entirely up to you. It depends on your vision for the remix and what you want to achieve.
You might find that you mix all three approaches depending on the track you're working on.
There's no right or wrong answer; it's all about what sounds good to you.
Now that we've gone over the different approaches, let's explore some techniques you can use to make your remix stand out.
🎛️ Creative Techniques
Let's break down some of the most commonly used techniques in remix production and how to achieve some of them in your project.
If you're just starting, try picking one or two techniques and practice using them in your remixes. You can start incorporating more techniques into your workflow as you get more comfortable. It's important not to get overwhelmed; focus on quality over quantity.
One of the most popular techniques in remixing is resampling.
This is where you take a small section of the original track, usually a phrase or one-shot sound, and loop it. You can then process it with effects like reverb, delay, EQ and so on.
This technique is often used to create impactful build-ups and drops.
The use of the one-shot phrase from the Steven Spielberg movie Hook, featuring Robin Williams, in Skrillex's "Bangarang" remix is an excellent example of resampling. He resamples the phrase "Bangarang," which he then places before the drop. That same sentence is chopped up and processed like crazy throughout the track. You can barely notice the difference between the original and resampled version.
So why is resampling such a popular technique?
Well, it's an excellent way to show versatility while simultaneously being creative and destructive.
You can take a small section of the track, process it and turn it into something completely different. Or use the sample unadulterated while adding some light processing to mix it in your track.
*Explainer video coming soon*
Chopping is another technique used in remixing.
This technique is commonly used on vocals.
The idea is to take a phrase from the vocal track and chop it into small pieces. You can then rearrange those pieces however you want.
This technique gives you a lot of creative freedom. You can create new rhythms, melodies and harmonies that weren't there before.
A great example of this technique is in Tchami's remix of "Go Deep." He chops up the vocals from Janet Jackon's "Go Deep" and arranges them into a new melody, a synth-like sound that works perfectly with the track. It created the melody topline and allows the track to move forward with great energy levels.
You can hear the chopped vocal into the drop starting at 0:45.
Practical advice: The key to making it work is to be creative with how you chop up the vocals and arrange them into something that sounds good with your track.
Don't just randomly chop up the vocal and hope for the best.
Take your time, experiment and see what sounds good.
*Explainer video coming soon*
Filtering involves using a low-pass filter to remove the high frequencies from a sound. This effect helps introduce elements in a subtle way. Sometimes, filters can remain on a sound the entire track to help them fit the mix.
We'll use Purple Disco Machine's "My House" to demonstrate filtering and resampling. The original sample came from 1968's Judy Clay, and William Bell's "Private Number," an incredibly tasteful and timeless riff introduced using a filter up to the break and then filtered for the drop.
The effect starts in "My House" at 1:30 using the filtered riff from "Private Number," looped over and over, while the filter opens up till the second verse at 2:00. Then low-passed again till the break at 2:55.
The groove in that track. Just wow.
A great example of only filtering is well used in the "Lean On" track by Major Lazer and DJ Snake. The lead synth has a low-pass filter applied to it throughout the track. This helps it cut through the mix without being too harsh.
Filtering is essential in any type of mixing or remixing. It allows you to shape the sound of your track and make it fit well with the rest of the elements in your track.
Pitching a sample (transposing semitones up or down) will change the key of that sample.
What does this mean?
It means if you're producing a track in the key of A and your sample is in C, well, you will need to pitch that sample all the way down to A (3 semitones). Now that your sample is in the same key as your main track, it will sit properly and sound good with everything else.
Practical advice: Use the transpose feature in your DAW and activate complex pro. This will shift the key but retain the formant frequency of the vocals. In other words, if you pitch up, it won't sound like a squealing squirrel.
Let's start with a first example: Avicii in "Le7els" sampled Etta James' Something's Got A Hold On Me. Etta James sang this song in the key of C#. Avicii had to pitch her vocals by a single semitone to get it to C# minor. He, of course, chopped the vocals and rearranged parts of them to make it more consistent with an EDM genre track rather than a 1962 R&B/Soul, Blues track.
Another excellent example of pitching would be "Faded" by ZHU. In the first verse at 1:13, you can hear the unpitched vocals making up the main melody (although the vocals probably have pitch alteration and heavy processing). Then, in the main chorus/drop at 1:46, you can hear a heavy pitch down of the vocals to give it that moody, deep range that fits well with the kick and bass and propels the track forward.
This technique is often used in remixing and even original production. It allows you to take any sample and change it to fit the key of your own track. You can get very creative using pitching. Use it to create interesting melodies and rhythms.
Something interesting to note is that raising the pitch can make a track sound happier and more positive. It can also make it sound higher in energy. Lowering the pitch can make a track sound darker and moodier. It can also make it sound lower in energy. This can be used to create tension, excitement or anticipation.
Go ahead— why not try it on your next track?
One of the most common changes made in remixes is the tempo change.
This involves speeding up or slowing down the original samples without changing the pitch (key)
Take California Girls from NoMBe, which has an original 78 BPM. The remix by Sonny Alven had a 20% tempo increase to 98 BPM. Again, this tempo increase didn't affect the pitch. It only accelerated the track slightly to give a new groovy, chill house vibe.
The tempo can also be dramatically increased to completely change the genre of the track.
The original sample of "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd is at 108 BPM, but with the Martin Garrix remix, the tempo was increased to 127 BPM. This took the track from Pop Disco to a mainroom EDM Dance/Electro genre.
The tempo can also be decreased to create a more laid-back, relaxed vibe.
The tempo doesn't always have to be changed in remixes, but it's a good technique to remember, especially when you want to change the track's feel.
It can really help you create unique sounding tracks that stand out from the original.
One of the most drastic things you can do to a track is to change its genre.
This involves taking the original parts and manipulating them to fit a different genre.
Let's look at Drake's "Look Alive" hip-hop/rap track playing at 140 BPM (or 70 BPM, mathematically the same, but feels different). And to illustrate this example, take the Godly Lofi Remix, which plays at 70 BPM and feels slow. Notice how the key and vocals were not pitched up or down in the remix and that the tempo of Drake's vocals remained at the original 70 BPM even though the original hip hop track felt faster.
This remix completely changed the genre from hip-hop to lo-fi/chillhop while still keeping some of the original elements.
To change genre, you need to be familiar with the target genre. This will help you know which elements to use and manipulate the original parts. For example, if you're changing a pop track into a dubstep track, you'll need to add elements like wobbles and drum & bass drums. You'll also need to change the tempo to around 140 BPM. You'll need to add elements like growls, wobbles and so on. Likewise, if you're trying to turn a rock track into a house track, you'll need to add elements like a 4/4 beat, hi-hats, etc.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to genre changes.
You can even combine multiple genres to create something completely unique.
So, next time you're stuck for ideas, try changing the genre of your track.
Interpolation means taking a section of the original track and repeating it at different points in your remix. A fairly common technique used in remixes to create a catchy hook or melody that people can remember. It's a great way to add new elements to a track without creating something from scratch.
How does it differ from resampling?
Well, with interpolation, the original sample is not changed or altered.
It's simply repeated at different points in the track.
With resampling, you're taking the original sample and manipulating it to create something new.
Take Hans Zimmer's Cornfield Chase, which is now a staple of science fiction and "What memories sound like" Tik Tok videos, remixed into a club tech house for the track by Time - Not Alone.
Notice how Time interpolated the same melody, almost the same sounding instrument even to give that exact feel, that exact musical phrase we all know and love from Cornfield Chase to a completely different genre. It completely touches the listeners. It makes them feel something familiar.
Imagine a track originally designed to play in a Sci-Fi movie (Interstellar) now bangs in clubs. Imagine the feel people have on the dancefloor hearing that!
Interpolation is a great way to create a new track that still has elements of the original without being a direct copy.
Find a soundtrack staple, something emotional that people recognize, and try interpolating a section of the original track and see where it takes you.
*Explainer video coming soon*
Addition, removal and change in elements
Very basic here. Simple to understand. As with any type of production, you can add, remove, or change elements. This could be anything from adding new vocals, changing the drumbeat or even removing the bassline.
You can do whatever you want to change the track.
It's your remix, after all.
Make sure it sounds good — ensure that any new elements you add complement the existing ones.
For example, if you're adding new vocals, they should fit well with the melody and lyrics of the original track. And if you're adding new instruments, they should work well with the existing ones. You don't want to add elements that clash with the rest of the track.
Also, make sure that any changes you make are in keeping with the overall tone and style of the original track.
For example, if you're remixing a pop track, you wouldn't want to add death metal growls (unless that's what you're going for, of course).
So, play around with the track elements and see what you can come up with.
Another creative approach is changing the original track's structure and arrangement.
This could involve anything from changing the order of the sections, adding new sections or even removing sections.
This is a great way to create a completely new track from an existing one.
For example, you could take the chorus of a track and make it the verse, or vice versa. Or you could add a new section in the middle of the track.
You could even remove the bridge and have the chorus repeat twice instead.
It's up to you.
Just make sure that any changes you make don't ruin the flow of the track.
Ultimately, you want to think about structure and arrangement early on. You should use markers in your DAW to map out the arrangement before you even start. Otherwise, without structure, you will get stuck down the line and find it hard to finish your remix.
A great example is Steve Angello, AN21 & Max Vangeli's remix of "The Island" by Pendulum. They completely changed the order of the sections, added a new drop for the chorus, and created a new break. This approach can often make a track sound more exciting and dynamic. It also gives a fresh perspective to the listener.
So, if you're looking to create an entirely new track from an existing one, this could be an interesting technique.
If you're experiencing artist's block, try getting inspiration from the style of another song.
"Good artists copy, great artists steal" — Pablo Picasso
And not to steal in a literal way, but through inspiration. Music sampling and reimagination have been done for centuries.
The perfect example to study is by David Guetta Ft. Baby Rexha - I'm Good (Blue), a complete rework of Eiffel 65 - Blue (Da Ba Dee).
Let's break down the track and take a look at the inspirations taken:
I'm blue was written in 1999 by Eiffel 65 — Jeffrey, Maury and Gabry explain how they wrote the hit track "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" in the 1990s, starting with a simple melodic arpeggiated progression of three different sets of lyrics. The song used a simple four-chord progression (Em-D-C-Am) that repeats on a four-on-the-floor drum rhythm. The lyrics were written in a very literal and straightforward manner. The genre of the track would be classified as Eurodance/Pop, which instantly became a huge dancefloor hit across the globe.
Now take the 2022 rework by David Guetta. He slightly reworked the melody and harmony while keeping the same four-chord progression and added Baby Rexha's new lyrics that say "I'm Good" instead of "I'm Blue." The overall genre of the song hasn't changed— it's still considered pop music with a hint of EDM.
"I'm Good (Blue)" now serves as a modern remake of the 1998 club anthem, "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65.
"Guetta brings a biting bassline to the chorus of this iconic jam while maintaining the original track's unmistakable signature qualities, starting with its instantly recognizable piano-driven melody."
As you can see, inspiration can come from anywhere — even other songs. By understanding the elements that make up a track, you can start to see how to use those elements in your own tracks.
Inspiration is all around you. You just have to be open to it.
You can use this approach to change the vibe of a song from a primetime banger to a calm, chill vibe kinda song. Or the other way around.
Take Kygo, for example, when he was starting out, he remixed much calm, vocal-only tracks like Firestone and Cut Your Teeth and made them into tropical club tracks that played during prime time.
But later on, as he grew as an artist, he released original tracks played during primetime. These tracks had high energy levels and were extremely danceable.
Then he decided to return to his roots and create remixes of these more chill and relaxed tracks. This gave his fans a whole new perspective on his music.
Energy level matter because they dictate the feeling and emotion of a track.
To make people dance, you need to have high energy levels. If you want to make people relax and chill, you need lower energy levels.
There are a few key things you can do to change the energy levels of a song:
1. Change the tempo
One of the easiest ways to change the energy level of a song is to simply change the tempo. Faster tempos generally make a song feel more energetic, while slower tempos make it feel more relaxed.
2. Change the instrumentation
Another way to change the energy level of a song is to change the instrumentation. For example, adding more drums and percussion will generally make a song feel more energetic. On the other hand, adding more strings and piano will make it feel more mellow and relaxed.
3. Change the mood
The mood of a song can also have a significant impact on its energy level. Songs with happy and upbeat melodies will tend to feel more energetic, while those with sadder and slower melodies will tend to feel more relaxed
4. Change the structure
The structure of a song can also affect its energy level. For example, a song with a lot of build-ups, drops, pauses and changes in dynamics will tend to be more energetic than one that is more linear.
It's all about finding the right balance for the song you're working on. Produce what you like, not what others want you to make. Learn the basics, and then experiment with what you've learned.
And that's the power of music production. You can take a track in any direction you want.
Super interesting approach here that requires a little bit more research. Like generational leverage, however, this technique requires you to dig much further through past music catalogues from the '70s, '80s, 90's even 2000s.
Find an acapella, riff or melody that stands out to you from an older song.
An idea on how to get started, say your watching a TV show— pay attention to the music. You'll notice that the show's producer sometimes chooses soundtracks from two or three decades ago.
The best example to give here is how the Netflix Original Stranger Things. Netflix's popular sci-fi series first debuted in 2016. It became so popular that its new season shattered Netflix viewership records.
In Episode 4, Kate Moss' track from 1985 Running Up That Hill appears near the end of the episode, during a key development in the story. Max, one of the show's protagonists, has been kidnapped by Vecna, a creature resembling a human who feeds on those emotional wounds. The song was used at a critical moment and created a sensation of hope and nostalgia.
The producers of Stranger Things chose to use a song released more than 30 years ago to create an emotional connection with the audience. The show's creators, The Duffer Brothers are only in their early 30s, so it's likely they grew up listening to '80s music.
What's interesting, according to Spotify research, the track has seen a huge spike in its listenership and streams because of the show.
Bam, there you go. Emotional scene. Fantastic soundtrack that fits the emotion of the scene. Nostaligic synths. Heartwarming vocals. Internet exploded. Only means opportunity for music producers to create a generational comeback. ONY9RMX, Samuel Kim and many more took a stab at this classic, and both received over 2M streams! Similarly, on Instagram and Tik Tok, the track exploded and was applied to many creative videos to give it a new identity.
Besides TV shows, to find a song for a generational comeback, listen to top songs from [date].
Take Madonna's Frozen, for example, released in 1998. Fantastic vocals. Iconic artist. Sickick, a modern-day Canadian producer and famous Tik Toker now, took a stab at remixing the track. It went viral on TikTok. Madonna and her team decided to team up with Sickick to create a vocal rendition of the new "Frozen (Remix)."
It's a win-win for both Sickick and Madonna. She added another twist on one of her timeless tracks, and Sickick got the exposure and notoriety of a lifetime working with such an iconic artist like Madonna.
"It’s absolutely insane to me to see the journey this song took from a simple fun remix I posted on tiktok one night to the movement that it started with the help of the army to get Madonna’s attention and now to this!"
And here's what one of the comments says:
"You just brought multiple generations together like it was a regular Sunday activity bruh. Well done. Can't wait to hear more of your work. This is Fire."
And that's what you're aiming for. You want to tap into that nostalgia and give a track a modern touch. You don't want to do a carbon copy of the original track. You want to put your own spin on it and make it your own.
Even Madonna in her 2005 Hung Up Original ,used samples of 1979's Abba's Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) which is today remixed more than once by producers like Cerrone, Steve Angello, Madeon, and others even in 2022.
2004's Mario's Let Me Love You, remixed in Deep House remix by Sllash, or EDM club banger by Calvo and Dazz. 1936 Samuel Barber's Adagio for String was remade by Tiesto in 2004, which became a modern-day Trance Anthem staple.
These are all great examples of taking old tracks and giving them a new chance in life by adding modern production around them.
Once you have found your inspiration, try creating a new track with modern production around it while keeping that vintage feel.
Now go out there and experiment with different tracks and see what you can come up with. There are no rules when it comes to music production. So have fun with it and see what you can create.
Once you have found your inspiration, try creating a new track with modern production around it while keeping that vintage feel.
Now go out there and experiment with different tracks and see what you can come up with. There are no rules when it comes to music production. So have fun with it and see what you can create.
Elements of a Great Remix
The best remixes have several things in common:
👌 Understanding of the original song
You must first understand the original tracks and original stems inside and out. This means knowing the song's tempo, pitch, key, harmony, and other elements. Think about the original vocals, and try to manipulate only the vocal elements first. Then start working on an instrumental track using the existing melody. This exercise will help your production process, which executes a few ideas and turns them into an original track (new track or remix).
💫 Exciting and original changes
A distinguished remix will alter the original piece in interesting and creative ways. This could mean changing the tempo, pitch, key, harmony, or adding new elements such as instrumentals or vocals. They typically remain in the original key chosen for a particular artist. The final remix of popular songs will most often contain the original melody, original chord progression and some original elements. Kygo's remixes of "Cut Your Teeth" and "Firestone" are a great example.
🎧 Professional grade
An excellent remix will be well-produced and sound professional. This means it's mixed and mastered correctly, and all elements work well together. Your favourite artists and music producers have surpassed this step, and so can you.
A great remix will be original and stand out from other remixes of the same song. This means it should have its own distinctive style and sound. A unique sample pack, synth lead and an unexpected twist create the sensation: "oh wow, this remix feels original."
A remarkable remix is catchy and memorable. That track has a strong hook that people will want to listen to again and again. They end up often in DJ pools (on DJ city) and are played over and over at clubs and festivals.
Benefits of remixing songs
Remixing songs can have several benefits, both personal and commercial.
It allows producers to experiment with different sounds and styles, and it can help them learn how to produce their own songs. Remixing can also help promote an artist or band's music, make a song more accessible to a broader audience, and change the original song in interesting ways.
🖍️ Creativity and expression
One of the best things about remixing is that it allows you to be creative and express yourself. When you remix a song, you can add your own personal touch to it. This could be anything from changing the tempo to adding new instrumentals or vocals. Remixing is a great way to show your unique style and taste in music.
Try this: Take a random song, isolate vocals (from the vocal stem), extract signature elements from existing stems, create your own drums and percussion sounds, save it to a new project file and start building from there. By playing with just the vocal (creating vocal chops) and throwing it on a drum track, you are on your way to creating an original remix.
🎛️ Learning and production skills
Remixing can also be a great way to learn about music production. When you remix a song, you'll need to learn how to use different audio production software and tools. This process can be a great way to learn about new production techniques. And, if you're an upcoming artist or DJ, remixing can be a great way to learn how to produce your own songs.
🌅 Expanding musical horizons
Remixing can also help expand your musical horizons. When you remix a song, you'll need to listen to the original track closely and figure out how to change it. This can be a great way to discover new music you wouldn't have heard.
Make sure to listen to a wide range of music from different genres and eras. This will help you better understand the history of music and how it has evolved over time. It will also give you a better sense of the different styles, instruments and rhythms.
You should also read about music. This can include books, magazines, and online articles. By reading about music, you will learn more about its history and theory. You might discover new artists and producers that explain certain techniques and methods they've used in their productions.
📰 Promotion and marketing
Remixes can also be a great way to promote an artist or band's music. Creating a great remix could be posted on the artist's website or social media pages. This can help boost the artist's music to a broader audience. And, if you're an upcoming artist or DJ, releasing remixes can be a great way to get your name out there.
🎈 Entertainment and fun
Of course, one of the best things about remixing is that it's just fun! Remixing can be a great way to bend and twist ideas in interesting ways. It's a great way to experiment with music and sound. And, if you're looking for a creative outlet, remixing can be a great way to express yourself.
🎁 Bonus: Win a Remix Competition
Why not enter a remix competition to take your remixing skills to the next level?
Many online and offline competitions are held yearly, offering cash prizes and other rewards. Check out Remix64, Beatport, and original artist websites to find a remix contest.
Here's an example of a remix contest that ended where the winner received incredible prizes and recognition:
When they say winner prizes are incredible, they mean it.
When entering a remix contest, it's essential to read the rules carefully. Some competitions may have specific requirements, such as using only certain parts of the original song or remixing a particular section of the song. Make sure you understand all the rules before starting your remix.
Once you've chosen the competition and started working on your remix, it's important to finish it promptly. Many competitions have deadlines, and late entries will usually not be accepted.
When your remix is finished, it's time to submit it to the competition. Most competitions will have an online submission form, so follow the instructions carefully. Sometimes, you may need to upload your remix to a specific website or send it via email.
Winning remix competitions is nothing short of what you can do. Remix a song, submit it, and good luck!
How to promote your great remixes
Promoting your remixes is a great way to get your music heard by a wider audience. There are many ways to promote your remixes, so choose the ones that work best.
💫 Music Platforms
Uploading your remixes to Soundcloud and YouTube is a great way to start. These platforms allow you to share your music with the world for free. You can also create profiles on these platforms so people can learn more about you and your music.
👟 Remix Competitions
Another great way to promote your remixes is by entering them into remix contests. These contests are a great way to get feedback on your work and to win prizes. There are many different contests available, so make sure to choose one that's right for you.
Finally, you can promote your remixes by sending them to record labels. If you're lucky, a record label may want to sign you and release your remixes commercially.
Here are 10 ways to spread and promote your remixes (online and offline):
- Uploading remixes to popular platforms
- Entering remix contests
- Contacting record labels
- Creating a social media profile
- Making a website or blog
- Printing promotional materials
- Sending demos to DJs
- Performing live shows
- Entering radio competitions
- Participating in online forums and communities
Where to share your remixes online
When sharing your remixes online, there are many different options available. Here are some of the most popular platforms:
Soundcloud: Soundcloud is a popular platform for sharing music. It allows you to upload your remixes for free and includes a profile page where people can learn more about you and your music.
YouTube: YouTube is another popular platform for sharing music. It allows you to upload your remixes for free and includes a profile page where people can learn more about you and your music. You can upload an official remix. Sometimes YouTube's copyright algorithm has a hard time with unofficial remixes and bootlegs.
Bandcamp: Bandcamp is a website that allows artists to sell their music directly to fans. If you want to cover a track, remix or other, you must have all the music rights. In other words, you must have consent from the original artist to upload a cover or remix.
Spotify: Spotify is a website and app that allows users to stream music for free. It includes a section for remixes, where you can upload your remixes. It requires, however, permission from the original artist.
DistroKid: DistroKid is a platform that allows artists to distribute music directly to different platforms without going through a record label. They distribute your music on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, and more. It's a paid service, but it includes a free trial.
There are many other platforms available, so make sure to explore all of your options before sharing your remixes online.
Another excellent way to promote your remixes is through communities. These can be online or offline, but the important thing is that they provide a space for like-minded people to connect and share their work.
Several public online communities are dedicated to music production, remixing, and DJing. These are great places to find new tracks to remix and get feedback on your own work. Some of our favourites include:
r/edmproduction - This is a subreddit devoted to electronic dance music production. It's a great place to find new tracks to remix and get feedback on your own work.
r/remix - This subreddit hosts regular remix competitions, allowing you to flex your creative muscles and win prizes.
r/musicproduction - This is a general music production subreddit, but it's still a great place to find new tracks to remix and get feedback on your own work.
r/WeAreTheMusicMakers - This is an online community for music makers of all kinds. It's a great place to find new tracks to remix and get feedback on your own work.
Discord Servers - In addition to public forums, there are also many private Discord servers that allow producers and DJs to connect with each other. These servers often have specific channels dedicated to sharing.
Many private online communities are also dedicated to music production, remixing, and DJing. These communities are often invite-only, but they can be a great way to connect with other producers and get feedback on your work. Some of our favourites include:
Craft Your Sound - Yes, we're currently building our own private community to connect music producers and DJs worldwide. Share your originals and remixes with like-minded individuals, get feedback, share knowledge and access unlimited workshops and resources curated for members-only. If you're interested in joining, please sign up for our waiting list!
Splice - This is a private online community for music producers. It's a great place to meet other producers and get feedback on your work.
Ableton Live User Group - This is a private online community for users of Ableton Live, a popular music production software. It's a great place to meet other producers and get feedback on your work.
Making a remix is a great way to add your own personal touch to a song. It can also help promote an artist or band's music.
To find the right song to remix, consider the original song's genre, tempo, and lyrical content.
Once you've found the perfect song, use a DAW to create your remix. Finally, share your remixes online or enter them into remix competitions.
Don't be afraid to try new things, break the rules, and experiment.
Hope you learned some new things from this article. If you found it helpful, please share it with others who might find it useful too!
How do you remix for beginners?
There are many ways to remix a song for beginners. One way is to use a digital audio workstation (DAW), such as Logic Pro X, Ableton Live, or FL Studio. Another way is to use an online platform, such as Soundcloud or YouTube. Finally, you can also enter remix contests to win prizes.
To make a good remix, you must consider the original song's genre, tempo, and lyrical content. Once you've found the perfect song, use a DAW to create your remix. Finally, share your remixes online or enter them into contests to win prizes.
What software is used to remix songs?
Many digital audio workstations can be used to remix songs. Some popular options include Ableton Live, FL Studio, and Logic Pro X.
What are the rules of remixing a song?
There are no set rules for remixing a song. However, it is important to consider the original song's genre, tempo, and lyrical content. Once you've found the perfect song, use a DAW to create your remix. Finally, share your remixes online or enter them into contests to win prizes.
If you want to use a copyrighted song in your remix, you need permission from the copyright holder. This can be done by contacting the artist or record label directly. Once you have permission, you can proceed with creating your remix.
Some good songs to remix include popular hits and lesser-known tracks. To find the right song to remix, consider the original song's genre, tempo, and lyrical content.
How do DJ Remix a song?
They study the vibe. They study the audience and know what they will be playing next. And they also get to know the original material intimately. After all this, they have to sit down and work out how they will put their own spin on the track while staying true to the original feel of the song.
The best DJs can seamlessly blend the original track with their own style, producing a fresh and familiar remix and even remix publicly.
If you want to remix a song like a DJ, the first step is to get to know the original track inside and out. Listen to it repeatedly and take note of the elements that make it special. Once you understand the track well, you can start thinking about how you want to make it your own.
It's also important to consider the audience you will be playing the remix for. Think about the kind of music they like and what they will expect from your remix. Once you have this information, you can start creating your remix.
To create a DJ-style remix, start by getting to know the original track inside out. Once you understand the track well, you can start thinking about how you want to put your own spin on it. Keep in mind the audience. Think about the kind of music they like and what they will expect from your remix. Once you have this information, you can start creating your remix.
When creating a DJ-style remix, it's essential to use a DAW so that you can easily add and remove elements from the track. This will allow you to create a fresh and familiar remix.
How do artists remix a song?
They start with the stems.
Stems are the individual tracks that make up a song, such as the drums, bass, guitars, and vocals. Most artists will start with a song's stems when creating a remix.
The next step is to add their own elements to the mix. This could be anything from additional instrumentation to new vocal parts.
Once the artist is happy with the remix, they mix and master it. This ensures all the tracks sound good together and are at the correct volume.
Finally, the remix is ready to be released!