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Monday
Jul262010

Finding Affordable Mixing & Mastering

With the low prices of recording equipment and software, it is no surprise that the number of musicians trying to make it big on a DIY budget is on the rise. Seasoned industry veterans will testify that not only does an artist need to possess the talent and determination to succeed in the music business but their success depends on the team of dedicated industry professionals surrounding the artist. As more and more layoffs take place within major labels, these professionals become more accessible to the little man.

Though one can find online freelancers for just about anything these days, there are only a handful of mix engineers. I found a very wide range of mixers offering services to clients ranging from Grammy winning engineers, full-service recording studios, to home based engineers with project studios. With the wide range in choice and budget comes the ability for nearly any artist on any budget to contract their song, EP, or album to a dedicated mix engineer.

There are many benefits of outsourcing this difficult task and getting out of the do-it-yourself mindset. A dedicated mix engineer probably has much better equipment, an acoustically treated room, accurate studio reference monitors, and can complete tasks in a much more efficient manner. However, the most important contribution of a mix engineer is the two ears on his head. It takes years and experience to master the art of mixing, and a good engineer can make all the difference in the world with his creativity and problem solving abilities when it comes to audio. It is a common mistake that artists make when they assume the mastering engineer can fix a bad mix. While they can drastically improve the final product the mix engineer holds the ultimate key to the outcome of the song.

The process involves the band completing the recording process at a studio and sending the session files to a mix engineer via the internet. The engineer opens the session in his own studio, works his “magic”, and is in constant communication with the producer or band. The band requests changes, the mixer makes the revisions and then either sends the files directly to mastering engineer or back to the band before pressing. The process is fast, convenient for all parties, and can end up saving the artist money. The most tedious aspect of the process is the uploading and downloading of large session files, but this is getting to be less and less of an issue.

Virtual Mix Engineer offers digital makeovers for artists’ music from anywhere in the world. It features the very affordable “All Inclusive Mix Package” which includes mixing of unlimited track counts, vocal tuning, drum replacement, timing correction, unlimited revisions, and even includes mastering and special version mixes all for one basic charge of $72 a song. See more details and hear before and after examples on the website.

Each mix engineer adds his own unique touch and sound to the project, and no two mixes will ever be alike. Important things to consider before embarking on your virtual mixing journey include experience, price, cost of extras, your overall budget, and rapport with the engineer.

Take a click of faith and you will be amazed at the value an additional set of ears will add to your music.

Reader Comments (4)

While my focus is primarily mastering, I also offer mixing at $90/hour. It typically takes me 4 hours minimum, sometimes twice as long if the job entails vocal "pocketing" (adjusting pitch and rhythm). I can't fathom how anyone could work for $72 per song, especially factoring in a few hours up front to educate the client on file prep.

A happy middle ground for my clients is mix consultation. They hire me for an hour or two to offer detailed suggestions on each of their songs. Not only are their mixes better, but they become better mixers.

Looking over the site, I can't find the engineer's name anywhere. I'd expect to at least see a list of credits. It does say that a mix can take 14-20 hours, so apparently he/she is indeed willing to work for $4/hour. Scott, is this your site? Can you elaborate? It sounds too good to be true, but I'm willing to outsource. :)

Brian Hazard
Resonance Mastering
http://www.resonancemastering.com

July 26 | Registered CommenterBrian Hazard

Hey Brian,

Yes it is my site so I am happy to elaborate :)
As I am recently fresh out of school I have a rather short list of credits at this point. My aim here is work with independent bands who can't afford much more than this. Sometimes some good bands aren't even able to get up to 72 a mix! But if you really want to know how I can afford to mix for so cheap I moved to Prague where I would be earning 4 dollars an hour at most jobs anyways, but this way I get to do something I like. My overall cost of living is quite low. As I am all in the box, I also do not have big equipment costs. Thus I am happy to spend my time mixing and doing something I enjoy. Ultimately, it is about contacts as well, so by starting with bands in their early stages I hope to grow and contribute to their success. This is how I will grow my list of credits, of course while making a good mix. It would be near impossible to just jump in the biz and charge hundreds. I'm not attempting to undercut other engineers, but rather provide a service to artists with smaller budgets.

July 27 | Unregistered CommenterScott Horton

I always find the idea of sending music out to be mixed interesting. I can't imagine asking a stranger to do something other than a remix.

What I do find interesting is the idea of moving to some place inexpensive so I can charge less for my services. In general when I see places with cheap mixing &/or mastering services I think, "You get what you pay for," so I would definitely explain on your site why your prices can be so low.

Thanks for clarifying Scott! That makes sense. I have a number of clients who've stuck with me for over a decade, so I think it's a good strategy. On the other hand, you're not likely to receive many professionally tracked mixes, so it won't be easy!

July 28 | Registered CommenterBrian Hazard

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