How, why create a “radio edit” version of your single

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Given how much the landscape of music consumption has changed over the past few years, it may seem overkill that an artist needs a “radio edit” for their latest single, but such a cut still has a place in it. industry. Here we take a look at why and how to create one.

Guest post by Erik Veach of the Soundfly Flypaper

In today’s world of streaming audio and downloadable audio files, it’s hard to imagine that we always need to think about the specific needs of audio tracks intended to be broadcast on the radio …

But, as a recent article in Variety, much of all the music consumed by listeners is still played on some form of radio station: whether it is traditional radio stations, terrestrial or the Internet. And, in fact, popular music streaming platforms – Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Pandora, etc. – aren’t they really just radio stations redesigned for the Internet age?

While most radio stations and streaming services apply some form of their sound level and dynamic range control in order to ensure that any songs they are streaming or streaming come out in somewhat similar sound ranges (assuming the audio file has been at least reasonably well mixed and mastered) there are still some aspects of an audio track that can’t simply be executed through an algorithmic processing engine to make it suitable for platforms accessible to all audiences.

More specifically, lyrics suitable for all ages and track lengths that correspond to the generality of music currently broadcast by radio stations and streaming services. Addressing these particular elements of a song is entirely to the artist, and not something that is done after the distribution.

As an artist or band, you would definitely want to take every opportunity to make sure that as many listeners as possible can hear your song, in order to find those people who truly understand your sound and who can become your die-hard fans for life.

It is therefore to your advantage to consider create additional “radio edit” versions of your single, for use in radio broadcasts and streaming services which require compliance with certain standards that allow the music they broadcast to be accessible to all audiences. In this brief article, I’ll outline three of the most common tweaks you need to consider in order to create a radio-friendly version of your recorded song.

1. Censorship

The most obvious radio version edit, and the one that most people think of when you say “edited for radio”, is censor any inappropriate language. To do this correctly, you will need to work with the original mix, which contains each of your vocal tracks isolated from each other and music.

The easiest way to censor lyrics is to simply listen through the mix for words that are well known offenders and mute this short piece of the vocal track (s) in which these words appear. Save this version of the mix as a “radio edit” version, have it remastered to match the original unedited version. Now you have what is often referred to as a ‘clean’ version, which can be streamed to any radio station or streaming service without worrying that a random word in your lyrics is preventing your music from playing.

A word of advice, when cutting offensive words from your vocal tracks, be sure to quickly fade the vocals right before the censored word and quickly fade the vocals right after. This will produce a smoother and more professionally refined radio edit.

+ Learn more about Flypaper: “How to run your own public relations campaign”.

2. Song duration

The next most important thing to consider is how long the song is compared to other songs currently playing on the stations / services you want your song to play on. It will probably depend on your genre of music.

It is not uncommon for an orchestral or jazz piece to last longer than 10 minutes, while pop, rock and hip-hop pieces are generally less than 4 minutes long. You may find that most of the songs on the radio station or streaming service you are interested in are maybe even 3 to 3 and a half minutes long. If your song is noticeably longer than most stations broadcast on the stations you are interested in, it would be in your best interest to create a shortened alternate version of the song it is better suited to this station.

The more you adjust your song to match the standards of the radio station you want your song to play on, the more likely it will actually play it.

Adjusting the length of a song can be as simple as removing a repeated chorus at the end of the song or removing an entire verse and chorus. But, if your song is more complex than that, finding a way to remove the sections from it that make sense while still allowing the song to flow smoothly and consistently can be a challenge.

It’s entirely possible that you can make these length changes in the fully mixed and mastered version of your song, simply by carefully cutting and deleting sections. If you know the song’s tempo (i.e. BPM), opening the stereo audio track in your DAW and setting the tempo accordingly can allow you to use trimming tools configured to cut the track only. over beats or whole bars.

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3. Intros and Outros

The last area where you might want to adapt your song for radio is how you present the intro and / or outro of the song. With the multitude of social media and streaming options available to listeners today, it’s more important than ever to get right to the heart of your song as early as possible to ensure you capture the attention of listeners on the spot. as quickly as possible.

A recent post here on Flypaper can even help you think about your composition with this in mind, check out: “3 Ways to Grab Your Listeners With Opening Lines.” “

But, even if you haven’t written your song to grab the listener with an immediate melodic hook or lyrical line early on, you might still be able to edit your song to start with a louder part. For example, you might consider deletion of an instrumental intro section, or an artistic start to a song, which may sound great, but will inevitably drag on for radio listeners.

Your fans will certainly be delighted to hear this amazing intro you produced, but that’s why you have the full version available for purchase or download, right? For a radio release, however, you need to focus on reaching as large an audience as possible in the hopes of finding new fans, which means getting to the heart of your song as quickly as possible.

You can consider starting directly in a chorus or hook, or replacing a long intro with a two-beat intro before the start of the first verse. Most of these types of edits can be done fairly quickly and easily, often directly from the mastered stereo audio track.

And finally, look at your outro and compare it to the end of current radio songs of the same genre. Are you using a long crossfade when all the other songs have a clear button end? Do you repeat your final chorus multiple times when other songs only have one chorus ending? Think about the adjustments that can help keep your song tight.

But, besides just cropping the length, it’s good to consider how your short-length song starts and ends compared to other similar songs in the current broadcast or streaming rotation.

Clearly, radio should always be seen as a viable part of your music distribution plan. By paying attention to the three main points I have detailed here, you can develop a solid radio editing version of your song that will appeal to the widest audience possible, while still maintaining your original full version of the song that represents your true one. artistic vision. .

Erik Veach is the owner and principal sound engineer of Crazy Daisy Productions, which has been providing mixing, mastering and sound editing services since 2001. He pioneered intelligent automated mastering systems, introducing them for use in the music industry. professional music production in 2003.


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