Now you've decided on the overall aesthetic and sound it's a good time to find a reference track or 2 that has a similar sound to what you are trying to achieve.
This song should be produced to the standard you are aiming for and it should have a very similar sound and aesthetic to what you are trying to acheive. You should use this track as a reference throughout your mix process to check you are on the right track and that your mix is coming together as it should. Without song referencing you might stray off your path. Referencing your song throughout the mix process keeps you focussed and productive and keeps you from drifting off course.
- Find 3 Reference tracks of similar sound to the song you are looking to produce
- Analyse the characteristics and write them down. Qualities to look out for are:
- Overall balances: Balance of groove, bass, chords, lead elements.
- Drum sound: Type of drum sounds used. EQ and compression settings, levels and FX processing. Natural sounding or very processed?
- Core Content: Balance and tonal quality of chord and core music content, how it sits on the drum track and type of processing and FX used on all elements (guitars/synths/bass/strings etc..).
- 3D Space: Another characteristic is where everything sits in the 3D space. For example, some genres the vocal will be more atmospheric and set back in the mix amidst, and some genres will have it right up at the front. Knowing all this before hand will make your decision making much easier.
- Instrument Layer Density: How minimal or maximal is the genre?
- Vocal: Does the genre rely on heavily processed vocals or natural vocals. What types of effects are being used.
- During the mix you should refer back to your reference tracks as you go along to make sure you are on the right track, Do the lead elements sit correctly in the mix according to the reference track, and do they have the appropriate aesthetic qualities for the genre?
- There are some tools that make referencing easier. For example, check out Sample Magic A/B which let's you quicky A & B from your reference song to your project.