I’m going to posit something right now: there’s really no reason you shouldn’t enter a remix competition.
Whether you’re getting to the point where you want to get yourself noticed, want to broaden your skillset, or just want to work with some great sounding other musicians and vocalists, professional remix competitions are an excellent way to do it. Even if you never go through with your entry, you’ll have the opportunity to play with sounds you never would otherwise – and if you do enter, and win, there are often dazzling prize lists.
So where do you start? Well, we found the ideal starting point: remixcomps.com. Remix Comps does an excellent job of aggregating remix competitions, from small labels promising features on their output all the way to major labels with thousands of pounds/dollars/euros worth of prizes and opportunities.
For instance, remixing Usher’s recent Climax single could get you a Novation Twitch (side note – please let us know if getting into playing live with your productions is something you want us to talk more about), a trip to meet the man himself, and a bunch of exclusive merchandise:
That’s an accapella itching to be reworked if ever I heard one, and all the vocals and the lead synth line are all on offer as separate stems (a stem is a separated ‘part’ of the song). Most of these big major label remix competitions happen through indabamusic.com, who’ll require you to sign up before downloading but let you enter three competitions per year completely free – it’s $5 per month after that for unlimited entries and a few other nice benefits, like music hosting and iTunes selling.
In an unashamedly ego stroking move, take a look at a remix I did back in 2005 for a remix competition that I’ve always been quietly proud of (admittedly, perhaps not from a fidelity point of view).
For this remix, all that I used was the accapella. It’s frustratingly difficult to track down a version of the original track nowadays, but I decided to take the usually inadvisable move of shifting the accapella by so that the phrasing falls differently over the bar. This created a slightly different feel to the track and in this instance I think it worked quite well.
The sample’s no secret – it’s Backstabbers by the O’Jays. By playing with the pitch and chopping the sample I got enough of a unique re-versioning of it not to sound like it’d been done a million times before, but 99% of remix competitions wouldn’t touch a sample like this with a bargepole now. Perhaps nowadays, with the full complement of stems that are made available with remix packs nowadays, you could chop something from the original song up to form the basis of your remix.
Listen to the elements that are placed around the sample, though. Of course, there are the drums, but there’s also a thick bass, piano chords and an ever changing piano melody, a guitar, and some marimba. It’s adding the little things to the track that will help it to stand out and sound polished and unique, which is one of the biggest things that judges will be looking for.
“adding the little things to the track that will help it to stand out and sound polished and unique is one of the biggest things that judges will be looking for”
Of course, really thinking outside the box and changing things entirely, yet still somehow creating a track that sounds like it was meant for the original, is probably an even better move. I’ll get off my own high horse now and defer to the greats: Jamie XX’s remix of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep still sends shivers up my spine, and to remix such a massive tune with a completely unique and progressive sound yet retain its anthemic character is a work of genius.
Whatever you choose, we want to hear it so make sure you let us know what you get upto in the comments and on our Facebook page!