When the majority of musicians write and record their own music, there seems to be the idea that the more instruments and parts added to the song the better the final product will be. Multiple tracks that are created of the same instrument may give it a bigger sound, but in actuality it is simply making the instrument seem bigger by only increasing the volume. The more duplicated tracks that are in a song causes excess clutter and causes the sounds to fight against each other. Ideally, the ultimate goal is to have each track working together in their own space of the sound spectrum. The key to getting a radio quality sounding mix is clarity, and before a song is submitted for cd mastering, the first step could be simply eliminating unneeded tracks.
Stacking multiple tracks of guitars, for example, is not necessary. If two guitar tracks have different, crisp, solid tones, the end result is much more pleasing to the ear and a full, rich sound can easily be achieved in the mixing process. The less amount of effects and processing on the song in mixing, the better. This is what makes the recording process of a song crucial. While recording tracks, experiment with ways to get the best possible tones out of each instrument. Different microphone locations, various tones of guitars, and even upgrading equipment is always a great start. One of the biggest mistakes made is thinking that decent tones can be transformed into amazing tones through the mixing and audio mastering stages. True, these processes do greatly enhance the sound, but without a solid foundation of great tones from recording, your song cannot reach its full potential.
A great way to begin creating a professional sounding song is to think about what should stand out in the song to really catch and hold the listeners attention. The majority of songs always focus on the vocal hook of course, but the instrumental parts can really stand out if they are not fighting against each other. You rarely hear a lead guitar part playing at the same time as lead vocals because the listener cannot decide which part to focus on. The same idea can be applied to guitars, pianos, synths, and drums, that are fighting for the listener's attention. If a guitar and piano are playing simultaneously in the same register it could become a bit muddy. By simply changing the octave of one of them allows them to move to a different frequency range and add much needed clarity for each instrument to be heard. Another aspect of a song that often gets overlooked is the dynamics of it. By adding build ups, releases, and climaxes in a song it makes the song much more interesting and pleasing to the ear than listening to 3 minutes of repetition. By keeping a song simpler and thinking about a few fundamentals of song building, a song can be transformed from mediocre to radio quality in just a few easy steps.