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Should I mix my own songs?

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The answer is yes and no, and it depends on whether you view your music as an investment of your time, money, and energy or as just a hobby. Ask yourself how you’d like to feel on an emotional level months and years after your product is finished. For example, I have a hard time listening to my early works. And while it is important to go through the process of sucking in order to get experienced, I believe that if I had hired an engineer to help me finish my mixes I would have probably doubled the amount of work I put out. I spent way too much time and money trying to do it all by myself. And even though as a result I ended up learning and becoming a mixing engineer, I think my early work suffered because I was trying to do too much by myself.

If you’re just making a demo for yourself or to show your friends, then I think mixing you own demo is a great option. Not only can it be fun, but also very cost effective for the amateur musician. If , though, you’re trying to land a licensing or record deal and capture listeners and bloggers attention then I feel you will truly benefit from an experienced engineer. It will save you time and give you back what you’ve invested ten fold.

The truth is that you’ll need years of experience in order to get a mix sounding competitive with what’s out there in the top 100 charts today. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers; The Story of Success, talks about how it takes about 10,000 hours to go from novice to expert in any craft or skill. I agree with this, and have experienced this myself both as a guitarist and as a music producer.

Most commercial music is mixed and produced by experienced engineers. Wondering who mixed or produced one of your favorite albums? You can find this information by looking up the album credits to your favorite record. Try allmusic.com and you’ll see what I am talking about. And there is a reason why this is so common. Mixing is very complex. Terms such as EQ, compression, reverb, delays, and panning are thrown around carelessly and constantly on music forums, in conversations, on tutorials, etc. There’s plenty of badly disguised information regarding this. There’s also a very clear difference between an amateur, or even a mid-level production compared to a commercial album like something from Daft Punk. And while big artists have access to great recording spaces and equipment, this is isn’t necessary to be able to compete or get your music to your fans. A lot of pro artists record their material in bedroom studios and later add the ears and skills of a producer.

A really great producer can turn a cluttered song into a simple yet massive sounding hymn. They can find and enhance the energy on your music track. They can create space and clarity. They make your mix punchy and loud, and they also have the ability to make it shimmer without being harsh.

I understand that it’s very easy for anyone who owns a computer and has some musical knowledge to make music right at home, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need the help of a mixing professional after you record your track.

And finally, if you’re not sure where to find a good mixing engineer, talk to me. I can help you sound just like the pros for an affordable rate. Keep in mind that producers for the well-known commercial artists can cost tens of thousands for an album, and while there some really cheap engineers out there and you will get what you pay for (mostly you’ll be paying for that person’s inexperience). But in the case of someone like me, I will only work on music I know I can add value to and I am willing to work with you to map out the sound you are going for. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts or hopefully working with some of you in the future!

 

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