Pity not the plight of the remix producer: Despite the fact that most producers hired to rework popular songs don’t share in publishing revenue on compositions they re-imagine, in the Spotify era, a remixed version of a song can sometimes eclipse the original recording, generating millions on the master side. Case in point? Producer Carlos Cid (pictured above) and Cedric Gervais’ re-working of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness,” which has so far racked up nearly 350 million streams on Spotify, was a Top 10 radio hit worldwide, is four-times platinum in the United States and won a Grammy in 2014 for Best Remixed Recording.
The Recording Academy’s Best Remixed Recording category, accordingly, has taken on new prominence the past few years, and Academy members are getting better at recognizing lesser-known talents as well as the big names the category used to honor (David Guetta, for example, won two years in a row nearly a decade ago, then followed by Skrillex with back-to-back wins). Not so long ago, a Grammy nominated remix was seldom heard outside of dance clubs and specialty radio play, but with streaming services now omnipresent, nominated compositions are reaching millions more ears.
For Cid, winning in 2014 was a career booster, even if it was under the radar at the time.
“It was a validation, for sure, [even though] I didn’t get the total public recognition from it,” says Cid of the “Summertime Sadness” re-work, noting that French DJ Cedric Gervais was credited as the remixer, even though Cid did much of the production work on the remix. “But in the industry, things totally changed for me [after that].”
This weekend, Cid is up for another Grammy award, this time all on his own: The New York-based producer and artist is a nominee in the Best Remixed Recording category for his re-imagining of LSD’s (aka Labrinth, Sia & Diplo) song “Audio.”
“Working with Sia has been at the top of my list for awhile now,” he says, and his punchy, up-tempo reworking of the track reflects his philosophy of what makes a good remix. “It’s all about taking the essence of the original but making it something that I can play in my [DJ] sets as well,” he says. He adds that the hallmark of a winning remix is “nothing too aggressive, but something that also stands on its own where you can play it in your car or at home.”
Stuart Price, a two-time Grammy winner in the Best Remixed Recording category, shares many of Cid’s views.
“History always defines great remixes because they stand on their own feet, either alongside or completely separate from the original,” the British-born producer says. “You might have one scenario where a remix just moves a song into a new genre that is ready to embrace that song, or another scenario where the original was not clicking, but the remix brings it to life.”
Although the Best Remixed Recording category is still relegated to the “pre-cast” (non-televised) portion of the Grammy Awards, a win in the category can still open many doors within the music industry. Price may have already been a known quantity among label remix commissioners and band managers, but Grammy wins never hurt, and often can open doors to more direct collaborations in the future.
“With The Killers for example,” Price continues, “[my remix of ‘Mr. Brightside’] started a musical conversation that brought us together and ended with us making new music. Because remixing is such a detached process, I think it’s equally exciting for the band to receive a reinvention of their work as it is for the remixer to work with great artists.”
Recording Academy executives couldn’t be happier with this year’s crop of nominees in the category, which have been well-received by dance music fans and Academy members alike.
“With regard to the dance community specifically, our efforts toward more targeted outreach have been really fruitful,” says Bill Freimuth, Chief Awards Officer at the Recording Academy. “Our Awards team has worked diligently to reach out to the community to increase product submissions the Dance/Electronic and Remix categories and we’ve actively worked to recruit new members from the genre at a Chapter level.”
Dennis White, last year’s Grammy winner in the Best Remixed Recording category (for his work on Depeche Mode’s “You Move”), confirms that a win can vault a remixer into a whole new category.
“There were doors I knocked on for years that suddenly opened up,” the Los Angeles-based producer says. “It didn’t rain money at first — but it rained opportunity, which can change into money.
“When you have ‘Grammy-winner’ in the line of your bio,” he concludes, “that creates a level of comfort for new collaborators.”
Grammy Award for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical
“Audio (CID Remix)” — CID, remixer (LSD)
“How Long (EDX’s Dubai Skyline Remix)” — Christian Beat Hirt, Maurizio Colella, remixers (Charlie Puth)
“Only Road (Cosmic Gate Remix”) — Stefan Bossems & Claus Terhoeven, remixers (Gabriel & Dresden Featuring Sub Teal)
“Stargazing (Kaskade Remix)” — Kaskade, remixer (Kygo Featuring Justin Jesso)
“Walking Away (Mura Masa Remix)” — Alex Crossan, remixer (Haim)