Today and tomorrow, I’m running a two-part series on this site telling you about my experiences with remix contests. I’ll tell you about what went wrong with all the ones I didn’t win, and what possibly went right with the one I recently won for Russian label Mask Sexy Records.
In today’s first part, I go through what definitely didn’t work for me and, chances are, probably won’t work for you either…
If you have come across this article through my social media, you probably know roughly what to expect. You probably know my sense of humour and what comes with it. So you’ll know to take anything written over the next two days for what it is. I simply speak of personal experience.
If, on the other hand, you have found me in the future from a Google search, I imagine this title hasn’t filled you with the utmost of confidence. Nor should it, frankly. I have no idea if what I’m about to write has any lessons in it whatsoever. I’m just going to tell you about my experience with remix contests and you can take what you’re going to take from that.
So I’ll start by declaring that I don’t know exactly how many of these I’ve entered. My first one was on Beatport many years ago – it was for a song called “Funk Dat” by Sagat, which originally came out in 1993. I entered it simply because I could and because I wanted to try remixing something. I was learning exactly how my DAW of choice – Cockos Reaper – worked, and I thought the best way of doing that was to work on something where the ideas were already partially there. I think this was the right strategy for me, it might not be the best strategy for everyone.
I never won anything for any of these. And let’s be frank about the reasons for this. Most remix contests are commissioned by record labels who don’t fancy paying someone to do a remix. Back in the 1990s, remixes cost a lot of money. If you wanted the likes of David Morales, Marc Kinchen, Todd Terry, Masters At Work or whomever to do a remix of your track, it was going to cost you big bucks. It wasn’t remotely unusual for them to charge £15,000 and above.
Labels were more than happy to pay in those days because the money was there to do it. Vinyl sales often counted towards the ultimate chart position of a song, so a decent remix pack on the 12” could help swing it in favour of a particular release. The remixers knew this, and charged accordingly.
Those days are long gone. Budgets at most labels are far thinner than they used to be and remixes have been particularly badly hit in this regard. So remix contests are a useful way of getting a remix without paying for it. They also usually – especially in the case of the major labels – are looking for a particular sound. They want what’s hot. They want what’s going to do well on the streaming sites, because that’s where their listeners are these days.
And who could blame them? That’s their job. If you want to enter a remix contest for a major label, my advice is to be acutely aware of these facts. There’s absolutely no point anyone going into this without both eyes open. Unless your remix becomes an absolutely huge global smash hit, there’s simply no way you’re going to make much from it. Just do it for the fun. It’s not like you’ll be able to do anything with it if you don’t win, anyway…