Get Better Mixes Faster [Part 3/3]: What NOT to Do When Having Your Music Mixed Online
Avoid these common mistakes when having your music mixed and mastered online
In Parts 1 and 2, I went over some best practices for how to communicate the vision of your songs with your mixing or mastering engineer. In part 3, I discuss things to avoid when working with a ANY mixing or mastering engineer. Avoiding these problematic areas to guarantee you receive the best final mix or master without delay.
What Part 3 Covers:
- Setting music release dates
- How to contact your mixing or mastering engineer
- The importance of organization
- When too much feedback can be a bad thing.
- Why highly technical suggestions aren’t always welcome.
DON’T SET A RELEASE DATE FOR YOUR SONG BEFORE HAVING THE FINAL VERSION IN YOUR POSSESSION
There are many things that cause delays for mixing and mastering engineers. Many of which are outside our control (life can happen, ya know?!?). Sometimes, we can nail a mix on the first try, but other times it can take a while to align with your musical vision. Either way, NEVER set a release date or make promises to your label, fans, promoters, etc. until you have the final version of your song in your possession. Having a release date before having the final masters in your hand adds unnecessary stress to the project. Great art is rarely made under these situations. For best results, mixing and mastering should never be rushed.
DON’T CONTACT YOUR ENGINEER MULTIPLE ways
Stick to one form of communication for the entirety of the project. Sending messages from different platforms like Facebook, Instagram, email, text messages, etc. makes keeping track of your project details difficult. Mixing and mastering engineers are usually working on multiple projects simultaneously, so help them out by sticking to their one preferred form of communication.
DON’T SUBMIT DISORGANIZED MIX NOTES
Put ALL mix notes into a single email or text file and send that to your mixing or mastering engineer. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gotten a chain of at least 3 emails back-to-back with one or two small adjustment requests. This process wastes your engineers’ time by having to fumble through multiple emails. The chance of a mix note being overlooked is greatly increased when scattered over multiple files/emails. This also slows down turnaround time. Write concise, organized and easy to read notes using bullets to designate each song adjustment request. Lastly, include track times when referring to particular parts of the song.
Don’t make your mixing or mastering engineer’s inbox look like the image above. Listen to your song for at least a day then compile all notes into a single email or text file and sent that to your mixing engineer. Never send multiple emails with different mix notes or revision requests – keep it organized!
DON’T TAKE THE CREATIVITY AWAY FROM YOUR ENGINEER.
Resist the urge to be a “back seat” engineer. For example, asking for a 2.3 dB EQ boost at 1.4 kHz with a Q of 0.8 on the snare drum is too technical and constrains your engineer’s creativity. Mix notes like this make engineers question why you hired them to mix or master your music in the first place.
While this may seem helpful, it usually isn’t. This is because the desired effect you are requesting might not be achieved because of how the audio files in a session are processed. Mixing and mastering is complicated, and adjustments made to one track will affect all the other instruments in the song. Without having direct access to the mixing or mastering engineers session, over technical mix notes are often completely useless. Instead, provide general guidance for where the problem areas are. The mixing or mastering engineer can still be creative and make the adjustments to get the requested sound. Again, don’t be a back seat mixer!
Have you made any of these mistakes? Tell us about them in the comments below!