The Business Side of Mixing

There’s a lot of mixing advice out there, but no one talks too much about the business side.  In this post, I’m going to talk about how to deal with clients during the mix process, how to deliver your mixes to clients, and how to wrap-up a project.

RULE #1: Never send a mix until you are 100% satisfied with your work.

This is a common mistake, and one that I used to make in the past.  When mixing for clients, the first impression is extremely important.  If you send a half finished mix, you miss the opportunity to wow your clients and build trust & confidence, setting yourself up for a lengthy revision process.  Instead, check and double-check your mix before you send it.  Listen to it in your car, at home, on your laptop, etc. and make your own notes before delivering the mix.  I’ll often go through 1-3 revisions on my own before the artist/band hears the mix.  If you’re mixing more than one song, it’s a good idea to finish at least a few mixes and send them all at once rather than one at a time.  This will force the artist to spend more than 3 minutes listening to your work before making judgements.

Next Step: “Quick Mastering”

There’s one more thing to do before sending your mix that will help maximize your first impression.  Since your mix will be significantly quieter than a finished master, I’ve found that it helps to do a quick “fake mastering” job on your mix to get the volume up in the same ballpark.  The simple fact is that our brain thinks louder=better, and your clients will probably be comparing your mix to their favourite records.  Don’t go to far here – the goal is just to increase the volume while changing your mix as little as possible.  To do this, try using iZotope Ozone or Slate FG-X, both set to fast or “clipping” mode, and aim for about -12db RMS (assuming this is a rock/pop/metal mix).

Delivery

I recommend using Dropbox to create a shared folder and send high-quality MP3’s.  Name your files clearly so that there’s never any confusion.  I like to name my files like this:

SONG NAME_mixref_date.mp3

and any revisions like this:

SONG NAME_mixrev2_date.mp3

If your client is a band, ask that the members share notes & discuss with each other first and send back only one master list of changes.  You don’t want to be dealing with each member’s individual requests!  All that’s left now is to make (hopefully) minor adjustments to your mix based on the client’s requests.  Once the mix is approved, print a final version without your “quick mastering” applied and send the full-quality WAV or AIFF file off to mastering!

 

 

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2 comments
Charlie McEvoy says

Great tips. I especially need to work on not sending mixes too early.
It's a hard balance. Your point is bang on but it's sometimes also nice to get feedback on the direction before you got too far.

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kanz says

Great article. Is that -12 db average over the whole song or at the loudest point in the song. Thanks

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