I’m currently 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.
Yesterday, I went through what definitely didn’t work for me and, chances are, probably wouldn’t work for you either. In this concluding part, I go through what just might…
If you’re reading this, frankly, I’m a bit surprised. Maybe you haven’t seen the first half of this series yet. Maybe Google has sent you to this page first. Otherwise, you might be best to hold off having any confidence in what you’re about to read until you’ve, well, read it first.
After my experience with the Quantize Recordings contest, I stopped entering any remix contests at all. I’d made my mind up, or so I thought. You can’t do anything with the remix if you don’t win because it’s copyrighted to a record label from the second you submit your entry – look it up in the terms and conditions, it’ll usually be right there. And even if you do win, record labels are usually under no obligation whatsoever to actually release your remix. Again, look up the terms and conditions on various remix contests if you don’t believe me.
That was until around October last year. I came across a record called “Don’t Give Up” by Dormidontov & Newzs Feat. Michael Balzer. It was on a Russian label called Mask Sexy. I’d come across the label a few times before and I liked some of what they put out. Then I noticed that they were running a remix contest.
I was initially hesitant. I’d had experiences of them before, and all of them bad. I sat on this for a little while thinking about it. During a moment where I was in between projects, shall we say, I thought why not? I downloaded the vocal stem and started work. I didn’t do it with any intention of submitting the entry. I did it solely to pass the time – and I found myself being a lot more creative all of a sudden.
That bassline reminiscent of the sound of numerous speed garage tunes from the late 1990s? An entirely deliberate choice to contrast with the softer sounding chords elsewhere in the mix. I thought it worked and I stuck with it. Everything else came along so much quicker without the pressure of trying to conjure up some pre-conceived notion that someone somewhere may or may not have.
The only constraint I gave myself was to stick with a vocal mix. As much as I enjoy doing dubs, I couldn’t see any in the release history of the label, so I thought I wouldn’t stand much chance doing that.
Is this a contradiction with my statement saying I was only doing it for fun? Most definitely, yes. It was at this moment I realised I had to send this thing. So I found the email address for the label and submitted my entry. I got a courteous reply saying that they were looking forward to checking it after the closing date.
The closing date came and went and I heard nothing. I just chalked it down to experience and said I wasn’t doing any remix contests again. And then I happened to be scrolling on my Instagram feed and noticed a post from the label announcing the winners of the contest.
Much to my surprise, I read my name on the list. I had to read it several times to make sure that I wasn’t having some weird out of body experience. Seeing my name on there was utterly humbling. I never expected it in a million years and it restored a little bit of my faith that some of these contests are actually judged on merit and not on pre-conceived ideas by labels not wanting to pay.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to check out the release very soon, and hopefully, this series has helped you out with a few remix contest conundrums. And if it hasn’t, well, you should have probably held back your confidence in the first place!