Originally Posted by Palpable
One thing I struggled with for a long time was trying to make every instrument crystal-clear during every section. In the process of doing so, I would cut so much that the instruments would sound anemic. Really, it was more a problem with my songwriting than my production (though both have improved since). I wasn't trying to make a focus for the listener, I wasn't in tune with what sounds complemented each other, and I was cramming a bunch of different parts together so that sometimes there would be multiple lead instruments playing at the same time. Now I figure out what I want the listener to pay attention to and sculpt the rest of the song around it. Sometimes that means cutting away part of an instrument so that it sounds more in the background. More often it means replacing an instrument with something that doesn't conflict as much. It's a process that can take a while to learn and I'd suggest trying both. Getting a second (third, etc.) opinion can also be very valuable because after a while you lose your objectivity about whether something sounds ok or not.
Awesome, awesome, awesome advice. Thanks for that. I have in fact sent this particular song to three friends whom I trust immensely... one said there was some masking at the climactic portion (although he said he was admittedly tired when he listened), another said (without being asked about this) that he was impressed at how I had gotten each sound to be distinct. So two completely different opinions. I have totally lost objectivity! I am waiting for the third "expert" opinion, and then I will post this in the wip forum for even more "expert" opinions, haha!
Thanks again, this was especially good advice.