UK Remixes
December 28, 2012 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Can you explain the process behind the official remixes released with UK singles? Examples inside. Not looking for US remixes.

I've always loved British music, partially because of the great singles, which often come with two or three B-sides and/or remixes. What's the process for getting the singles remixed?

Here's an example from a few years ago: Saint Etienne's Heart Failed (in the Back of a Taxi). Original / Cardiac Dub Mix I love Saint Etienne, and their stuff is very frequently remixed on singles, but there are a million examples.

What's the process here? For instance:
1) Who generally picks the remix artist? The band? The track's original producer? Their management?

2) How much lead time is there for a remix?

3) What source material does the remix artist get? I.e., do they get the separate tracks, or do they remix from the final version and just pull out vocals, etc.

4) How much back and forth is there typically with a remix? e.g., "Ooh, I love what you did with the track, but can you bring my vocals back up/slow it down/get rid of that horrible saxophone?"

5) Do the remixers get paid? If so, is it a fixed payment, or do they get royalties off the single sales? Do they own the copyright for the mix, or is this a kind of "work for hire" whereby the band owns it? Is this all just bragging rights?

Again: really not looking for information about US stuff. Just looking for info about official remixes of UK singles, given the somewhat unique strength of the UK single as its own animal.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I should add that I realize that the answers to all of the above questions will vary, and are not governed by The Britpop Remix Act of 1978; I'm just looking for a middle of the road kind of insights.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:44 AM on December 28, 2012

So I know a few music producers and remixers.

1) Depends on the label and artist and how much money is involved. For indie, small-label stuff, it could be any of the above. For big budget productions, it's generally going to be the label picking it, or at least approving it.

2) Anywhere from weeks to months to turn the remix in, generally closer to the 'weeks' time scale. There's often a LONG delay between when the remix is turned in and when it's released, though -- months or even years.

3) They sometimes but not always get what are called 'stems' -- isolated parts of the track to work with. If you go on beatport and search for stems, you can see what they generally offer. Sometimes they'll get more like midi note information but that's super rare. Sometimes remixers use almost nothing from the original track. A friend of mine worked on a bootlegged (unapproved) remix of a famous dance record for a few months when he was asked to officially remix a completely different song. He just changed a few notes from his other remix and added a short percussion loop from the new track and turned it in as his 'remix'.

4) Almost none. Usually the label will master it after it's done, but that's it. The whole point of getting a remix is that you trust the producers vision of the song. That said, they are sometimes just rejected flat out.

5) They get paid up front, usually, unless they're really famous, then the remixer will get royalties. A friend of mine was remixed by a big name house producer and the remixer made more royalties from the song than he did. It's strictly work for hire. Generally the appeal to the remixer isn't money as much as it is recognition, because doing a good remix will get attention for your original singles or get you gigs touring as a DJ -- Tiesto got famous from his remix of Sarah McLaughlin's "Silence", for example.

Something else: there are some remixers who mostly do ghost-written work for other more famous producers and DJs. One of my friends got offered a gig to ghostwrite songs and remixes for a famous trance DJ on the strength of his remixes for him.

The answers are the same for British, Dutch, and US dance music remixes, btw. The hip-hop world may be different.
posted by empath at 9:58 AM on December 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

1) For someone like Saint Etienne or Björk, it's almost always the artist.

2) I know of cases where a remixer had as little as a week to turn a mix around.

3) Sometimes they get a multi-track digital copy of everything that's in the original track (and whatever might not have been used.) On the other hand, David Cunningham of the Flying Lizards was asked to remix a Jah Lloyd album, and they gave him a mono track of the finished mix and nothing more. So it varies.

4) Hardly any, but as empath says, they are often rejected.

5) Remixers get paid. Most I know, including ones who've consistently done work for pretty big acts (like Saint Etienne) don't get royalties, though.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:50 AM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks! This was helpful! I've always wondered how this works.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:57 AM on January 3, 2013

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