Firstly, you need to be able to make music that is.. well, musical! I got into producing by making "happy hardcore" and electronica in Cakewalk's Project 5. This type of music very rhythm based, it's all about the groove. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. But when I started wanting to work with vocalists, it became extremely apparent that my music was lacking something they needed to latch on to the music... a solid melody! Vocalists love melodies, as much as gear heads love driving down curvy roads. This is actually a good way to think about it. It's pretty boring driving down a straight road isn't it? You need to give the singer a fun and exciting road to drive on.
The Mix Can Wait
One thing I hear a lot of is mixes that just don't have room for the vocal or they are "mastered" so nothing is going to mix well with it. When selling beats or instrumentals, don't just sell the beat, sell the stems! This allows the singer to create there own mix that will have room for everything they need. If, for some reason, you don't want to sell stems, at least offer a version with no mix bus compression or limiting and that has a decent amount of headroom. The will help make the final outcome be a lot more cohesive and sound better mixed. As in our case, we offer well discounted mixing services for anyone who needs vocals mixed into one of our productions. You can do the same!
You Are Building A Foundation, Not A House
Think of it this way, you are building a foundation for the vocalist to build a house on. If your house already looks finished, then cramming another addition on your 10 feet of lawn you have before it hits your neighbors property is just gonna look downright tacky and is simply inconvenient. You need a solid enough foundation that they can create a beautiful home on it that is all their own.
Just keep in mind you are not producing a finished product. When you listen to your instrumental, you should be thinking to yourself "this is missing something" and that something should be the vocals.
Offer Collaboration, Not A Sales Pitch
Working with the artist has it's advantages. You may end up building a relationship with them and they will become more comfortable with you producing their music. This means repeat business. Being in different area of the world can make it difficult. But doing something as simple as offering stems can make a big difference. Just be sure to remember, when you are making music for some one else to write or sing on, you are collaborating and you should act like it.
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