He sits down and orders a drink. It’s about 9:30 in the evening and a local band is playing a decent version of “Stairway to Heaven.”
Our home studio guy (let’s call him “Bob”) scans the room to see if any of his friends are there, or maybe some nice looking women to meet.
There’s a group of friends in the corner booth so Bob goes over to say whassup. As the conversation gets moving, Bob notices that almost no one is listening to the band, even though they’re pretty good.
In addition to being into home studio recording, Bob’s also a musician and plays in a couple bands. Getting gigs is hard enough, and getting people to show up and pay attention is even harder, but they’ve been working it for about a year now and are starting to gain a little bit of traction.
It Ain’t What You Say
Bob’s learned that it almost doesn’t matter what songs you play, as long as you play them with passion and do something on stage that’s visually interesting. It ain’t what you say, It’s how you say it. When Bob closes his eyes, the band playing “Stairway” sounds good, but when he looks at the stage they’re just standing there, looking a little bored and there’s absolutely NOTHING that yells “Excitement!”
Except for the drummer. The dude is totally in the pocket and he’s just NAILING the drum part. (OK, granted, it’s a pretty easy part but the dude’s workin’ all the right angles.)
Looking a little closer around the room, Bob notices that people are ignoring the singer, but they’re watching the drummer and getting off on what he’s doing.
It’s the Same With Home Studio Recording
You can be average (or worse) on a lot of things, but as long as you’re awesome on at least one, then that’s what you should focus on and bring to the front of your mix. With home studio audio, we don’t have the visual aspect going for us. It all lives or dies on the SOUND of what we’ve recorded.
So. If you’re a guitar god, bring the guitar up in the mix. If your bass playing can kick the ass of Nathan East and Jaco, then by all means, push the bass front & center.
On the other hand, if you’re just OK at playing instruments or singing, and you don’t know which part of your mix or song to focus on…
Here’s a Little Trick
Play your latest tune for 5 different people and ask them to tell you one thing they like about the tune or the recording, and one thing they don’t. Be willing to listen and don’t take it personally. They’re doing you a favor by listening and commenting so thank them for their time.
If you get the same comment or idea more than once, THAT is your secret sauce thing to focus on. Make it bigger; tune it up; polish it; make it shine!
If you get 5 different answers, then ask 5 more people and keep asking until you get 2 or 3 people who say the same thing, and then focus on that.
Bob Walks Out of the Bar
And he remembers that awesome drummer, because THAT was the best thing in the room. Take your time, get feedback, listen to what people say (if there’s some common ground) and then act on that.