Remix Competitions: 10 Ways to Actually Stand Out in 2021

Remix Competitions: 10 Ways to Actually Stand Out in 2021


“I believe in the ethos of the remix, like Andy Warhol making a painting of Campbell’s soup label.”

— Mike Posner


Remix competitions are a polarizing subject. If you can actually manage to stand out, they are insanely useful to your artist career.

Yet if you can’t, remix competitions are an enormous waste of time. Your entry may be lost among the shuffle of thousands of others, and all of that time spent producing is gone.

It can be hard to deny the allure of entering remix competitions after seeing producers like Madeon and Seven Lions launch their careers after winning remix competitions:

Here at Hyperbits HQ, we are BIG believers in the benefits of remix competitions. But there are important considerations when thinking about whether or not to enter a remix competition in the first place:

Why enter a remix competition?

  • Remix competitions offer a great opportunity for exposure and networking.
  • The remix usually will get the green light to post to Soundcloud and Youtube, which nets you extra exposure from your production.
  • You get access to some well-produced vocals.
  • You can win some free stuff!

Why NOT enter a remix competition?

  • There are often tons of entries, and you’ll likely get lost among the noise of a thousand producers doing the same remix.
  • Statistically speaking, you have a very low likelihood of winning.
  • Sometimes, posting to Soundcloud and Youtube is restricted, so you can’t even share your hard work once it's finished.

This article covers everything outside of production quality that you can do to stand out in a remix competition. We all know that great production will help you get noticed, so what else can you do to improve your chances? That’s what we’re diving into below with 10 ways to actually stand out in a remix competition in 2021.

Remix Contest - Zedd + CRi
1. Pick the Right Competition

There are TONS of remix competitions out there. Especially with COVID, more prominent artists look for ways to gain some extra exposure by looking to host remix competitions.

There are two primary indicators that signal if the competition is right for you: choosing the right genre and avoiding the contests that get a massive number of entries.

First, you probably have your production style nailed down pretty well: maybe you make future bass, dubstep, or techno. Pick a remix competition where your kind of production might possibly win. This doesn’t mean you have to pick a contest where the original song is in your genre, but just know that it will be harder to win a remix competition for a techno label if you only produce dubstep.

Second, skip the remix competitions from the HUGE artists. Tiesto did a competition a few years back that got over 5000 entries — not only is your chance of winning tiny, but the likelihood that you’ll be able to network with Tiesto after winning is slim to none. Instead, find remix competitions from mid-size artists that might only get a few hundred (or less) submissions — you have a better chance of both winning and networking with them afterward.

Searching for a competition? Check out MetapopSkioKrea Sound, and FindRemix. See below — the CRi competition would be a much better choice than the Zedd competition.

Remix Contest - Zedd + CRi
2. Know the Rules, and Don’t Break Them

This one is pretty straightforward, but I have to say it – Read the rules of the competition, and make sure to follow them! Competitions have strict submission deadlines: sometimes, there are requirements to use specific stems, make the remix a certain length, or follow particular submission guidelines.

Do your homework and follow the rules. You don’t want to get disqualified for something silly!

Remix Contest - Don't Break The Rules
3. Do Your Homework — Get Background on the Artist/Label Doing the Competition

I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't compromise your sound for the sake of trying to fit the style of a specific label. That said, we all have our own range of styles, energy levels, or vibes with which we produce, and it's best to think about where in that range your entry would best fit.

So, do some research on the artist and the label. Have they done remix competitions before? If so, what did the winning entry sound like? What do their recent releases sound like? What kind of music have they been playing on radio shows or Twitch streams? All of these answers will give you clues as to what type of music they are currently looking for.

Figure out the answers to these questions, and then shift your focus towards that style. If you feel you need to deviate too far from what you usually make to fit the right vibe, you may have picked the wrong competition.

4. Start Early, and Take Your Time

When it comes to remix competitions, there are a lot of things you can’t control. The stems you get access to, how the judges will evaluate your work, or how others do in the popular vote. This makes it all the more important to do the best you can with the things you can control.

One of those things is time management. Remix competitions often have a reasonably fast turnaround time, so you must get started early. The last thing you want is to be on your way to a great remix, only to run out of time.

So start early, and try to do a little bit each day. You don’t need to be the first entry into the competition, but you don’t want to wait until the last minute. You can even search for remix competitions by how much time is remaining to guarantee yourself enough time to finish.

Hyperbits How to Mix Music: 8 Technical Steps for Beginners Gain Staging
5. Identify and Use the Hook from the Original Song

Remixes are about being creative and reimagining the original song from your own perspective. And while we want to harness that creativity, we need to make sure we do justice to the original.

One method of doing this is by using the hook from the original song. That might be the vocal hook or even a lead melody. Identify the main element, and make sure you use it in your remix. This way, you’ll pay homage to the original, and the hook will serve as a bridge between the original mix and your own.

Example: Above & Beyond - You’ve Got To Go (Seven Lions Remix) makes perfect use of the vocal and chords from the original track.

6. But, Put a Twist on the Hook

Now that you've got the hook, don't just drag and drop it into your own project. Put your own spin on it! If it's a vocal stem, try tweaking the tempo, pitching it up or down, adding extra FX, or chopping it up in some way. If it's an instrumental sound, rework some of the melodies or adjust the sound design with some extra FX.

Example: Compare Madeon's remix from earlier to the original mix of Pendulum's 'The Island.' Note how Madeon takes the original vocal hook and adds creative vocoder FX to make it unique and fresh.

7. Engage in the Community — Be Active on Artist/Label Socials

This tip might be our secret sauce to remix competitions...

Real people will be judging the entries — typically, it’s the artist themselves, their management, and some people from the label. You want to make sure that when they play your remix, they recognize your name.

How do you do that? By being active on their social media pages in the weeks leading up to the judging period.

Make it a point to engage with at least one post a day on either the artist’s or the label’s social media. Don’t mention the competition. Just leave a comment or a like on whatever they’re posting. The goal is simple: make sure they say “Oh yeah, I know that name” when they go to listen to your remix.

And remember, make sure you are engaging from an account with your artist name (either your artist page or your personal page if your artist name is your actual name).

8. Clean up Your Socials Before Judging Begins

Remember our talk about managing the things that you do have under your control? This is a simple example of that — clean up your socials before judging begins. Get a good press shot and banner photo, and try to post once a week to Facebook and 2-3 times a week to Instagram.

If the judges like your entry, the next thing they’ll do is go to your social media pages. You don’t need to have a big following by any means, but your pages should look somewhat professional and active. It makes a strong impression on the judges and will look much better than dead, unprofessional looking pages.

Need some inspiration? Zhu has always been the gold standard of social media cleanliness.

Remix Contest - Have Clean Social Media
9. Beg Your Friends to Vote/Engage with Your Entry - But Don’t Buy Votes!

Many remix competitions have popular vote features, and they matter. Some contests will only listen to entries at the top of the voting charts!

Getting these votes is important — beg your friends to vote for you. Make sure you vote from every email and social media account that you can. You need to be ruthless in your grassroots marketing.

That said, DO NOT BUY VOTES. If ANYTHING looks fishy in your entry, it’ll almost certainly get thrown out. Don’t waste your money and the time you spent making the track by trying to buy yourself a win.

10. Use Reference Tracks!

Ok, I know I said this article wasn’t about production stuff, but I have to throw in just this one: use reference tracks! Especially for a remix competition, these are going to be absolutely critical.

We wrote an entire article about reference tracks here. The short of it is this:

-  Use the original track as a reference track to make sure your gain staging and mixdown measures up.
- Reference other commercially released tracks to gain musical ideas, inspirational sound design, and a roadmap for an effective arrangement. 

There is no need to reinvent the wheel with your remix. Use commercially released songs as benchmarks and guidelines to ensure your own production is up to par.

Still unsure where to start? Check out of video on remixing a song in a few simple steps:

Remix competitions can be a colossal waste of time, but follow these tips to make sure you don’t waste yours! These competitions have helped launch countless artist careers and have made an enormous difference in the growth of tons more. If done the right way, they can make a huge difference for you too.

Learn the methods and approaches used to remix artists as big as Laidback Luke in the Hyperbits Start-to-Finish Course. Learn how to identify the core idea, evolve it into something new, and add your own unique sonic character to your next remix with over five hours of self-paced content.

And now, get remixing!