So you have decided on a track you wish to send to be played on the radio, but one problem is that your track is 7 minutes, and most radio-friendly tracks at around 3:00-3:30 minutes. How do you cut and arrange your track without losing any of your editing, mixing and automation data. Let's take a look at some of the best methods to edit your track and still retain your original track in case you need to refer back to it. I will be editing a project I worked with in Logic Pro.
Step 1 – Make a Copy in Your Arrangement
Normally my track starts at bar 1 (01:00:00:00.00). This way I can check exactly how long my track is when I scroll across with the playhead.
Here is what my project looks like before I start editing it. As you can see it is clocking in at 7:12.
To retain all your mixing and automation, select all your regions (Command-A), then move the playhead after you current regions and paste it (Command-V).
Logic should ask you whether you wish to copy the automation data. Select Copy.
[If this option is not present you can adjust the relevant settings for 'Move Automation with Regions' in Logic Pro > Preferences > Automation - Ed]
As you can see here, the regions to the left of the playhead are the regions we are going to scale down for a radio edit, and the regions to the right of the playhead are our original regions which we will not touch.
If you check the automation you will see that it is all intact (View > Track Automation or the key A).
Step 2 – Decide What you Can Cut Out
Now here comes the tricky bit: Deciding what you need to cut out! Radio is all about getting to the point as quick as you can. In my track (the Original Mix) I have a few buildup sections that expand over 10-15 seconds. I have shortened my Intro section and have cut out some of the builds in the middle.
Also what I look for are chorus sections that I can shorten. I normally find that the first chorus section can normally be shorter than the rest. I have also shortened my extended chorus in the end.
You could also use Logic’s Cut Time to remove sections. Select the regions you wish to remove. Then go to Edit > Cut/Insert Time > Snip: Cut Section Between Locators or alternatively Control-Command-X.
Step 3 – Check Your Transitions Between Sections
After removing all these regions, check that the song flows smoothly between sections. If it feels like some sections do not gel together you can experiment with fades or volume automation to correct this.
Now check how long your track is. Check that out: From 7 minutes down to 3.
It is nice having your Original Mix where there are builds between sections to create interest and tension, and extended choruses and intros to guide the listener around the track.
But it is also nice to challenge yourself to see if you can shorten your track and whether it still works in a shortened timespan context. It is not to say that one is better than the other, but it is nice to hear tracks from different listening standpoints. It is also a handy skill to get your tracks to fit into radio context. And you never know: maybe your track is the next big thing we hear on the radio.
For more arranging and mixing techniques check out: