How To Win A Beat Or Remix Contest: 14 Tips To Impress The Judges
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With hundreds, sometimes even thousands of producers entering into a single beat contest, is it even worth trying?
Even though it can be hard to gain the attention of judges, the answer is yes.
Once you actually learn what the judges are looking for and how to truly separate yourself from the other producers, the rest becomes relatively easy.
But when producers aren’t entirely sure what the judges want, they try to be as creative or unique as possible.
The only problem with this is that sometimes their tracks instead come out too unpredictable, cluttered with way too many ideas, and sometimes even sloppy.
So, to help you avoid these common pitfalls, we’ve created a guide to teach you how to not only wow the judges, but actually increase your chances of winning a remix contest.
After holding countless beat contests of our own, we know exactly which aspects you should focus on to set yourself apart.
Alright, let’s get into it!
Tip #1: Know The RulesThe rules could make it or break it for you.
Following them is incredibly easy, but overlooking them is just as easy.
In fact, have you’ve ever read the rules, scrolled through the entries, and then realized at least 10+ producers are not following them? It happens all the time.
So don’t let it happen to you!
*You usually put in countless hours into perfecting your remix, so you don’t want the only reason you get disqualified to be that you didn’t take a minute to read the rules.
Tip #2: Keep It Clean
Judges don’t look at how much you do. They look at how well you do it. So…
Keep it clean.
This is referring to how clean your mix is. And the best way to make sure your mix is clean is by picking high quality sounds to put in your track and giving each sound space to flourish.
This means not stacking too many sounds on top of each other or overcomplicating your songwriting. Use your EQs wisely to remove unwanted frequencies and apply just the right amount of effects to avoid cluttering your track.
This doesn’t mean that you have to take out any crazy sound design from your track. But when you’re listening to your song, make sure you can hear each sound clearly and without too much effort.
If it still sounds a bit cluttered and overwhelming, mix it down. Over and over.
And if they offer a project file with the contest, you’re golden. This is because you’ll be able to digest how they mixed the track and learn from it while you’re remixing it.
Lastly, if they offer the stems with the contest, make sure you do some A/B comparisons of the individual tracks.
Refer to this article to get a cleaner mix.
Tip #3: Find A Contest For A Genre You're Good At
This is a behind the scenes tip that allows you to offer your best song to the judges.
Multiple websites allow you to organize the contests by genres, which make it a lot easier to cycle through. A lot of the times, heavy artists stick to heavier sounds.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Being an electronic producer allows you the creative freedom to flip any genre you want.
So, don’t feel limited to one genre or sound. Sometimes you get stuck with writer's block and then write some of your best work in a different sub-genre. We’ve seen artists find their true style while doing this.
While keeping a creative mindset, know the crowd you’re jumping into. If you read that the label isn’t a fan of dubstep or trap, don’t do that genre. Your job here is to impress the judges. Knowing what they like is one of the solutions.
This is another thing you can try. Some the best artists have fused multiple genres to create a unique sound which will set them apart. So run through a few different genres to find the one you like the most.
Setting yourself apart can show a huge wave of creativity. Bringing in elements from different genres, different vibes, and new mixing styles can let the judges know you’re all about it.
A good way to set yourself apart is by knowing who the judges and the audience are. By knowing the audience, you will be able to figure out if it’s better to flip a genre or stay within the boundaries of the original song.
In the end, show off your creativity, and you’ll impress the judges.
Side Tip: If you’re stuck between two tracks and can’t decide which one to chose, look at them in these two forms:
Find which track has the superior mix and master and which one has the best composition.
If you’re currently struggling with your mixes, well, you know what to chose. Same with the other way around.
Entering a remix contest should be a learning experience as much as it should be a fun creative one!
Tip #4: Hook Listeners In Early
In beat contests like these, the first 10-15 seconds of your track are the most crucial because you need to hook people in early and want to keep listening.
Long, drawn out intros that take too much time can negatively affect your listener retention if they aren't interesting enough.
That's why it's important to let the listener know as soon as the track starts that this is something they have to listen to.
The best way to do that is to quickly get to the best part of your beat as soon as possible, then you can transition back to your normal arrangement.
Tip #5: Get FeedbackFeedback is one the most crucial elements of being a producer.
And although it can be hard to take sometimes, it can improve your track tremendously if received correctly.
But how do you “properly” take in feedback? Well, all you have to do is try to understand where your listeners are coming from.
This is sometimes easier said than done, but keep an open mind when the listener gives their feedback.
Just ask yourself “Is there anyway they could be right about this?,” or “do they have a point when they say this?”
Even if the person isn’t a producer, you’ll still be able to gain knowledge from them, because they listen to music every day. They might not be able to tell you what’s wrong with your song design, but typically, they can give you advice about your songwriting.
That’s because since they’ve listened to nothing but professional music their whole lives, they have a sense of when a drop should happen or if the build up went on for too long.
After you receive this feedback, go back to your track and see if you can make it cleaner or better (subjectively) with the tips they provided.
Even if you don’t agree with them, experiment with their suggestions and see if it improves the song.
Side Tip: Try to get feedback from both producers and regular listeners. This will allow you get the perspective from two different angles. Sometimes non-producers can give an outside insight that a lot of people don’t pick up.
Tip #6: Show Off A Little BitKnow how to play an instrument? Play it.
Whether it’s a minuscule part of the song, realism is something that will impress a judge.
Try translating the chord patterns to another instrument or even into MIDI, that way you can play with the vibe of the song.
Don’t know how to play an instrument?
Not a problem at all! If you have any loops, samplers or samples, you can bring amazing sounds to the table.
It doesn’t have to be a sound though. Just show off what you’re good at.
If you’re not entirely sure what your strengths are, start by asking yourself what part of the process you enjoy the most or ask other producers to point out what they like about your production.
Once you find some of your strengths, focus on them and use them to your advantage.
You may be tempted to try out something that’s trending to impress the judges, but it’s better to stick to the things you do well.
Tip #7: It’s Not A Race
You don’t have to be the first one to submit a song into the remix contest!
The judges don’t look at someone who uploaded their track 2 hours after the remix contest started as a good or bad thing. Trust us, they only care about how good the track is.
Sometimes you might feel discouraged because you entered halfway through and there’s already a few hundred entries. Don’t worry, they list to all of them. This is why the winner announcement takes time.
So, if the contest is a month-long, use that time to improve your track.
Go over this article and use some of these tips to climb your way to the top.
Tip #8: Listen
Another benefit of waiting to submit your track is that you can listen to all of the other entries in the remix contest, and see how yours compares.
This isn’t to discourage you or to give you an ego boost though. This just allows you to understand the competition better and learn how to impress the judges.
For example, if you notice a lack of sound design throughout the competition, step it up in that area.
If you do find yourself doing anything that’s too out of your comfort zone, work on your weaknesses and use your strengths to separate yourself from the competition.
Find out what people are doing and push the boundaries.
Tip #9: Stay Active
Most of the time, the host of the contest is one the judges. And believe it or not, the host of the contest pays attention to the community they invite to the contest.
So, if there's a chat, hop in. If there are other tracks, show love. If there’s a Facebook group, join it.
Being active within a community is somewhat like advertising. The more they see your name, the more they will remember you.
This doesn’t mean that you should send them your remix directly though. Just make sure to leave a positive mark on your name, so that person will remember you.
Side Note: Sometimes you can even find amazing artists within the community and eventually collaborate with them.
Tip #10: Artwork
Attractive artwork is the equivalent of a neon sign in the dark. It stands out.
Pay close attention to the rules. Sometimes it may say not to alter the artwork at all.
There are three types of artwork you can do:
- Create original artwork
- Alter the artwork
- Place your logo over the artwork
Either of these are fine and will work for the remix contest.
However, some may be more beneficial than others.
Creating original artwork can take time. So, if you feel like you’re running out of time, you might want to choose a different option. Create something attractive that is guaranteed to grab the judges attention!
The next option is to alter the original artwork. This is great because it will give a familiar vibe since it’s basically the original artwork, but with your own spin. This shows the judges your creativity and can help you stand out.
Alternatively, you could simply place your artist logo in the original artwork, just as long as your song justifies it with an incredible mixdown and impressive quality.
Any of these options would work well, but we wouldn’t suggest spending any money on artwork for a remix contest, specially if you’re on a tight budget.
Tip #11: Pull Your Brand TogetherIf the judges get down to a final selection of winners, they’re going to do some research.
Why would the judges give the crown to someone who isn’t serious about their project? The winner of the contest is as important to them as your project should be to you!
A few ways to make your brand impressionable:
- Keep your description clean, precise and to the point.
- Make sure all of your social handles are the same and all branded accordingly. This is one way to let the judges know you’re ready to be taken seriously and deserve this contest.
- Do not spam other artists
Your brand is a reflection of yourself. If judges see you and understand who you are and why you produce by skimming your socials, then you’ve done it right.
Tip #12: Don’t Fake It Til’ You Make It
If the remix contest incorporates voting for tracks, don’t buy the votes!
This may seem obvious, but “buying votes” happens all the time during remix contests.
And the thing is, the judges know when the votes are bought and when plays are faked. More times than not, it’s obvious because the numbers don’t line up with the rest of their social media presence.
So, if you want to earn your way to the top, you still have to earn it.
But the good news is, there are plenty of ways to get real votes.
First and foremost, reach out to the people you know who are willing to support you, like your friends and family. If they actually like your song, ask them to post in the comment section or to share in their socials. This could go a long way!
Another thing you can do is promote your track on social media and Soundcloud. You never know who might actually help until you post it. Be careful, sometimes pushing your music too hard can come off as spam. You don’t want to force people to give you feedback. Respect is a key factor in receiving honest feedback.
And lastly, if you’re part of a community of producers, ask them to check out your track and vote for it if they like it. This might be your best option, since they’ll understand just how important this contest is to you.
The only thing is if all of these producers have been invited to the same remix contest, you might want to opt for a different community. You can connect with other producers through Facebook groups, Reddit threads, Twitter, and many other places!
Try any of these options or a mixture of all three. No matter what you do though, just remember judges know when the comments and votes are genuine.
So it’s better to have 20 real votes than 100 fake votes, especially because being in the top ranks won’t actually guarantee you the win for the contest a lot of the time.
So just try to get as many real votes and comments as you can, and don’t worry about the tracks with over 1,000 votes.
Tip #13: Practice
If you’re new to production, it might be better to make a few practice tracks before entering.
If you’re feeling creative and really love the track, by all means, remix it. Music is all about expression, and if you can push that into a remix, do it.
However, if you can, give yourself time and get to a point where you’re comfortable remixing and publishing your music to the world.
Your music represents your brand, so push the quality you expect people to consistently receive.
If you just started making music and put out something that isn’t high quality, it could because you’re not quite there yet. Which is fine, so head back to your DAW and practice!
Tip #14: It’s All About YouThis is all you. Be prepared to enter with a cause. If you want the number one spot, you’re going to have to do what it takes. These tips aren’t guaranteed to win a contest but they will help you understand what you need to do to impress the judges.
It doesn’t matter what the other producers think of your track, so focus on getting yourself to the top and do it with confidence.
Sometimes, discouragement can lead us to believe we can’t win. You have to push past that fear and show confidence like you know you’re going to win.
The judges want their winner to represent their project the same way you want to represent yours, with quality and respect.
Make sure when you present your track to friends, family, and the contest, you do it professionally. We talked earlier about how important your brand image is to the results of a public remix contest.
Grabbing the judges attention and keeping it with an incredible remix is the goal for all producers. However, it’s something you can do and by taking control of your remix it would result in winning a remix contest.
In the end, you decide the steps you’re going to take to win this contest. If you want to go all-in with it, you will place well. If you don’t take it serious, you might not get the results you want. So open up your DAW and start planning your next contest.
Conclusion:So let’s look at what fundamentals you should go through when deciding to enter a remix contest.
What did we learn?
- Finding your sound can result in an interesting fusion of sounds
- Keeping clean mix can improve the length of listening
- Getting feedback can improve and teach you more about your remix
- Showing off can let them know you’re serious and talented
- Don’t rush to be the one that says “first”
- Listening to other beats/remixes might inspire & motivate
- Staying active within the community may advertise yourself
- Artwork can change the attitude of the judges
- Your brand is what identifies you
- Buying your way to the top won’t make you win
- The rules can be incredibly crucial to the outcome of the contest
- Earning your way to the top shows people are interested
Next time you enter a contest, try referencing this article. Go through each step and you’ll notice the difference it makes when you go all-in with a contest. If you impress the judges, you can impress anyone.