If you are ready to produce a large body of work, you may be wondering how to make an album sound cohesive and consistent, while still engaging the listener throughout. There’s more to it than simply using repetitive production techniques throughout your album. Our guest blogger, music producer and songwriter, De Ana, explains further, starting at the source…

How to Make an Album Sound Cohesive

#1. Getting a consistent sound through recording and mixing

One of the key elements that make an album sound cohesive is the way it has been tracked and mixed. Recording your elements using similar techniques will not only create a sense of uniformity across the album, but also save time and money at this stage. Firstly, getting a high-quality recording at the source will make your mixing and production process much easier later on. It’s incredibly crucial to pick the right musicians, the right room, appropriate microphones, placement and other gear to make your album the best it can be. Once this has been decided at pre-production stage, try to track all your instruments in the same environment with a similar recording setup. For example, I will often track drums on the same day for the whole album.

#2. Avoid copying and pasting your mixes!

Once you’ve mixed your first track, the temptation may be to create a template and use it across the rest of your album. Don’t do it! Instead, I’d recommend focusing on similar mixing concepts rather than blindly copying and pasting your settings. Each song will have different dynamics, a different feel, story, or a mood. While we are talking about how to make an album sound consistent, it doesn’t mean it has to be the same throughout. Shift your attention from using the same processing to using similar mix ideas. Think of what makes your sound unique, what elements you want to focus on in this album, rather than using the same compression or reverb effects on every track, for example. Albums like ‘Happier Than Ever’ by Billie Eilish are a great illustration of this method. Mixes feel consistent from the more stripped back songs like ‘Billie Bossa Nova’ to heavier guitars and busier arrangements in the second half of ‘Happier Than Ever’. We still get the same sense of intimacy from Billie’s vocals, lots of vocal stacks and harmonies, heavier, saturated low end and softer, understated high frequency range of these mixes. Yet, the effects processing and levelling will vary depending on what the individual songs need. Bottom line is, think of each track as its own, stand-out piece within a body of art.

How to Make an Album Sound Cohesive

#3. How to make an album sound cohesive when every track is different

You may want to shift gears from track to track – but will that make your sound inconsistent? Not necessarily. In fact, this could be an incredible way to get out of your comfort zone and show off your full range as a musician and producer. Beyoncé is a fantastic example of this with her album ‘Lemonade’. Coupled with immersive and engaging cinematography, she takes us along on an emotional journey of heartbreak, betrayal, reconciliation, and empowerment. It is only fitting that each track represents a different stage of that story. The album is sprinkled with many talented artists, producers, and engineers. The one thing that makes the album cohesive as a body of work is, you guessed it – the story. No matter which direction ‘Lemonade’ takes us in, it doesn’t lose sight of the progression and development of the storyline.

#4. Listening experience

On SZA’s Ctrl, many tracks feature tape recordings of her mother, talking about her experiences with the need to control situations and letting them go. On Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’, we hear his monologue in between the tracks, which ends with a story about a caterpillar and the butterfly, as well as a posthumous interview with 2Pac. Don’t be afraid to experiment, add your own flair and think of how you can make your album a listening experience, rather than simply a collection of songs!

#5. Editing, editing, editing!

The last piece of advice from me is to be objective and unafraid to cut elements or songs that don’t serve the album. Yes, you have more scope for intimacy, vulnerability and perhaps even less polished songs compared to single releases, as long as they contribute to your overall vision. But try to let go of your ego at pre-production and even the final stages of production of your album. Just because you’ve had to discard them, doesn’t mean the songs or ideas are bad, but rather that they may not fit the project at this time.

Are you looking for more tips on how to make an album, a single, market your releases and level up your production? Check out the rest of our blog for tons of free advice!

See also

» DAW Software
» Effect Plugins
» Instrument Plugins
» Studio Microphones
» Alle Studio Hardware & Software

» How to Prep a Demo for a Label
» Getting started with iPad music production
» Why Every (Beat) Producer Needs to Know Music Theory
» How to Make a Beat
» How to be a ghost producer to raise capital for your career
» 5 reasons why you are not a full-time producer yet
» Improving your music career with 5 daily habits
» How to Make a Breakthrough as a Producer

Guest blogger De Ana

De Ana is a singer-songwriter, music producer and audio engineer.

She creates YouTube videos with fun challenges and music production tips as well as using her marketing skills to create content for a number of companies through her digital marketing business, Set The Tone, including a weekly blog for the London Singing Institute.

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