Your song is nearly done. How do you take it past the finish line?
You’re 90% done with your next potential smash hit. If Simon Cowell was still a judge on X Factor and you showed up unannounced to the auditions – stonefaced, in complete silence, armed with nothing but a boombox – and hit play, his jaw would drop to the floor so hard you would feel the ground shake.
But it just needs that last piece of “something”.
How do you finish your track and make your future hit single cassette ready?
Remove The Junk
The expression “less is more” is true in some cases.
Overproducing tracks is a classic music production rookie mistake. We succumb to the temptation of adding more fills, chord layers, and cool special FX than necessary.
When you have the finish line in sight, take a few extra listening rounds and mute tracks to see whether they actually make the song better or just waste sonic space. In the latter case, you can rinse the litter and let the beauty shine through.
Check Thematic Consistency
Now is a good time to review what we discussed in our first blog article – coming up with a theme and sticking with it.
Ask yourself if your theme and main elements are clear and make sure you didn’t lose that theme along the way. Maybe there’s more junk to remove or more magic to sprinkle on to finish your track.
Use Reference Tracks
“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso
If there’s a song you love that’s similar to what you’re working on, you can use it as a reference track to help guide your decisions. Stretch it out to fit the tempo of your track in your DAW, line it up, mute it and toggle that solo button.
You can go for broader strokes like borrowing arrangement patterns (covered in our previous article in this series) or listen for details such as changes in the mix that make the song stand out. The latter makes more sense when you want to finish your track.
Ask For Feedback
We all have blind spots in our perception, especially after the tunnel vision-inducing task of working on the same song for hours on end.
When you feel your song is close to the finish line, but find it difficult to put a finger on what could be improved, don’t hesitate to reach out to a buddy for a second and third opinion.
Join our Discord server to get feedback on your music.
We always return to collaboration, and for good reason. With the accessibility offered by modern music production tools, it’s common to be a jack of all trades. This is true to the extent that we sometimes forget to contribute to and make use of the talent in our community.
Realistically, you can’t be specialized in everything, and at this final stage, there are probably three main areas that need finalizing: sound design, mix and master.
Invite a trusted friend to your project, preferably someone who’s passionate about the sound engineering side of things, and let them grab the faders. Don’t be afraid to be generous with creative freedom – their changes could make all the difference and you can always save a backup first 😉
Decide when Enough is Enough
Your song will never be perfect. Know when it’s good enough and let it leave your warm embrace with fond memories.
Now go kill it at that audition.
If you enjoyed this article, read our previous posts: