When you start out learning how to play an instrument, you improve gradually over time, but you really start to see huge progress when you begin to collaborate and play with other musicians. The exact same can be said for mixing.
I’ve already spoken about how constructive criticism from your clients can help you improve but I want to share something a little more specific from my own experiences that is really invaluable…
Lots of people want to be professional musicians, producers, recording engineers, mixing engineers etc. The audio and music industries are fiercely competitive. That, however, does not mean that you should keep all your secrets to yourself and share nothing with other engineers and musicians. If that was the case, then great songwriting partnerships wouldn’t exist, producers wouldn’t work with artists and you wouldn’t see me sharing anything with you!
On to the story…
I was close to finishing a mix last week and I was experiencing some ear fatigue. Using my references to take a break wasn’t helping too much, so I needed to rest and recharge. While I did that, I sent a text to a friend of mine who is a great mixing engineer and asked him to have a listen.
What came back were notes on the level of the bass guitar, what he felt would add more excitement to the hook, what frequencies to boost to achieve that and the exact EQ he would use. When I listened back to the mix again, I could hear exactly what he was talking about and was able to make the changes.
It really improved my mix.
I know how privileged and grateful I am to be able to get feedback on my mix from such a super talented engineer by simply sending a text. I also know that you might not have someone like that at your disposal. I didn’t either when I was less experienced because those relationships take time to develop naturally.
The best way to develop real relationships with other engineers, producers and musicians is to be real and actually want to help them first. Be a sounding board for their music and offer helpful suggestions (when asked!) on how they can improve their music. It will come back to you.
Mentorship is something that many desire but people don’t just become your mentors. Those relationships get built over time and through experiences. Sharing music and being open to criticism on your work is a great way to do that.
Being able to rely on an inner circle of friends who are engineers, producers and musicians really is invaluable to me and I highly encourage you to collaborate and be open to helping others.
By being open and helpful, you will discover amazing opportunities, improve your skills, save yourself time, and most importantly, you’ll develop real friendships with people you admire and respect on a professional, creative and personal level.
Now, if you could help me, I’d love to know…
What value do you put on mix critiques?
Leave a comment below!
professional sounding mix every time…