Share what I did with a song of mines? GLADLY! (lol)
So what I want to go into first is the clip of the song first before I go into some of the details into some of the techniques I used during production:
Lead is annoying, background is imbalanced, doesn't sound good at all. For me, just throwing off everything on the table, this clip almost cause my computer to crash. Why? Because of some of the mixing tools I had decided to use for this song. Little ol' me learned that my computer isn't strong enough for serious audio production.
A computer that I spent a lot of money on.
Here at newgrounds, we emphasize the importance of having that quality composition skill, making the best mixed song, and utilizing here there and everywhere to produce that wonderful sounding song. However, there comes a point in time where money is the barrier, and you're forced to make unsavory decisions to bounce all items, to work with different parts in different FL files or whatever you use to make that song that little extra special.
Here's what I learned: Audio production takes dedication. Audio production takes time. The more stuff you want in your song, the more time you have to spend to get it to sound good, or be able to access the tools to make it sound good. For all the composition courses I took in the past to working on my mixing and mastering skills, I've learned that some tools are just designed better and offer that clarity that was eluding me for years.
The clip I showed? 10 tracks. That's it. The actual song has 3 separate saved files at different points in the song so if something gets screwed up, I can go back to it. Firstly, mixing in mono. I need to know what it sounds like when you don't have the luxury of a stereo system or a car that refuses to play in stereo. Secondly, push the song to my computer's breaking point. I want to be able to get the max from what I produced and the only way I can do that is by putting as much in as I possibly can. Thirly, add vocals... because vocals. I used vocaloids because they cost money to buy, and some parts of the song just utilized vocaloids pretty well. Mix in a few of my voices with a vocoder and Commander Onslaughts (read: text-to-speech) vocals, and there are powerful tools at my disposal.
Vocals are hard btw.
What it all boils down to is music composition and production skills; how fast can you come up with an idea and implement variety within it? How long does it take you to come up with a melody in the correct key? Are there pitch issues that is causing some of the instruments/VST to clash amongst themselves. These are challenges that are faced when working with a song that is packed with content. My particular style is one that has developed over the years, so with a snap of a finger, I can come up with a melody and a key without much thought.
For this song, I bought Serum, Izotopes Music Production Suite, and Waves Platinum and wanted to give it a test run. Found the pad I wanted to use and got to work. Layered the pad with some of the instruments that you heard with the clip and removed that annoying lead. I always utilize a layered approach with both my main instruments and my bassline to create a specific sound that I'm looking for with my audio. As I describe earlier, some vst required bouncing to reduce the burden on my CPU, and I did that with the bass and vocals, since I had Ozone 8 Dynamic EQ working on the backend. I also had my vocals bounced as I had implemented both Vocaloid 5 and Synthesizer V, both of which take up space on the CPU.
With my songs, I usually have a 3 chord progression that follows the jazz standard, but altered (A-B-A-B-C-B-A). Understanding the type of chord progression that you want to utilize for your song will make you more efficient at designing music as you'll already have a foundation formed. From there, understanding what your melody is going to be, designing sound design around that, whether it be your frequency changes, SFX, or even samples (legally obtained and okay to use of course) is an area that is important.
Then move on to across the board volume drop to below 6 decibels (-6 db), and adjust the sound across multiple sound systems. Get the sound to work correctly with each other and make sure that the sound design levels are adequate on multiple fronts. Export audio in Edison .wav format in 32 bit, and work with Ozone to produce the best quality sound across the board.
This is what results from all of this:
But as one reviewer stated, that there could have been more elements added. Sometimes it just takes more ears and listeners to hear the things that are missing from a song. I believe this to be one of the most important aspect of music production is to have others listen to your work and tell you if there are any issues with the mix. I'd recommend a reference track, but considering my style of music is original, there really isn't a reference mix I can go to, so I have rely on my expertise to know what will work with a song.
So that's my spill on how I go about music production, and I'm sure that others have their ways of doing stuff.
TL:DR version: Music production is a job.