“I can make something for a long time and just not come up with an ending. It’s finishing things that I don’t enjoy.” Jamie XX
Even for seasoned producers, finishing music projects can be a quite a frustrating process. It tends to come from a place of perfectionism, but often just going through the motions of finishing a track, can really help to define whether the track is actually complete, or indeed not.
Finish playing your parts, add your final effects, make tweaks to your final mix, mixdown and master. It sounds simple, but it can feel quite tedious and laborious, especially when you’re faced with the excitement of just getting it out into the world.
Here are a few habits you should get into when you are close to finishing, which will really help you get your music projects over the line.
If you’re not sure if your track is finished, or whether everything is sitting correctly in your mix, your first job is to compare it alongside another piece of music that you think it sounds similar to. This is known as referencing.
Common things to listen out for are the volume of the instruments and vocals, bass and how it appears “in the mix”(too quiet/too loud), effects and whether they are too subtle or too much and panning – does it sound balanced? Testing across different speakers will help to ensure there are no surprises when you audition it in front of your friends.
Adding track after track and layering all of your elements can be the most fun part of production. But once you are close to completion, you should work back through them all to consider whether they are adding anything extra, or whether your project sounds just as good, or better if you take them away. Don’t just listen for what was once there, but what happens to the other instruments. Does your piano part sound brighter or do your vocals have more clarity? Developing your understanding of what isn’t needed at this stage, becomes just as important as understanding what is.
Mixdown and mastering
In the web Mix Editor, mixdown by clicking download and then mixdown as…
Here you’ll have five file size options. We recommend the first time you’re trying your track out, to download the highest quality, then MP3 size later if you plan to distribute online.
Mastering is considered by many as one of the dark arts of music production, but with BandLab, it’s as easy as dragging and dropping your file and selecting from CD Quality, Bass Boost, or Enhance Clarity. This shouldn’t affect your final piece too much but compare each one with the original and pick your favourite. When you publish a revision on BandLab, you’ll be given the option to master your track.
Sleep on it
Give yourself and your ears a rest, you deserve it. Dream tonight of making the Billboard charts but don’t get too carried away! Taking time away from your project will give you the clarity you need to be objective when you listen to it back in the morning. Don’t be despondent if you need to revisit it, this is all a part of the process.
Your friends and family are often the most supportive when it comes to your music career and also your most honest critics. When you’ve got a project you feel is finished, let them listen to it and be willing to take open and honest feedback. It’s more than likely that you have listened to the piece all the way through upward of a hundred times and this can affect how it makes you feel or how you hear it. Take constructive criticism and if you need to, make a revision of your project based on the feedback.
If you click on your music project and scroll down, a solid green dot is your latest private revision. By selecting the white dots, you’ll be able to see past revisions all saved, should you ever want to go back to where you left off.
Tip: To share a private revision with someone, click on the ellipsis under each revision and select “Get private link”.
If you decide you would like to make a revision public, the green dot will turn into a globe, meaning it’s accessible for all the world to see.
So what are you waiting for? Fire up that project and get it finished. You can do it!
Start a new project on the Mix Editor here.
Read more: Mastering your music: How to do it