Ok, let’s talk about this one. Before we even start, let’s just address the obvious. Yes, I am a mix engineer. Of course, I would love to mix your song. Sure, this post might seem like a pretty backhanded way of guilting you into giving me your work, and if that’s what happens, great. If that’s not what happens, that’s fine too. I’m not writing this blog with the intention of “getting work” from it. It’s not the reason I write these blogs. My goal is to get YOU more clients. To help YOU make better music. To have clients take YOU more seriously. I want to watch my friends and colleagues succeed. If you’ve been following me on social media you will know what I am about to say. There are no secrets in this industry. There’s no reason for people working in the industry to “hide” something from others. No one wins that way.
So, back to my initial point…If you’re a producer, engineer, songwriter, artist or anything related to that…you NEED to be hiring a dedicated mixing and mastering engineers. Sorry, but you do. You’re only doing a disservice to your own work by not hiring someone.
Ok, that’s a pretty hard statement and probably triggered a few people. Let’s talk about it.
Let’s start with the obvious, perspective. I want to say that it’s impossible to have enough perspective to be able to do everything yourself, but I do know a handful of guys who have done some great songs and they have done it all themselves. So sure, it may be possible to have the perspective and vision for one person to write, produce, record, edit, mix, and master the entire song themselves…but even if you could, why would you want to? There is no other industry, profession or job in the world that works in a vacuum by themselves. All great businesses and people crave and desire human connection and the input of others. It is how we grow. It is how you get better, how new ideas are sparked.
Next up is quality. Again, there are always exceptions to every point. I have seen some true jack of all trades in this industry, but more often than not, people have their strong suit. Past that, they may be able to get by with certain other things, but there’s usually a drop in quality. Why spend years and years honing your production abilities only to then make it sound horrible by using your very limited knowledge of mixing and mastering that you learned from a 3-minute video on youtube? It’s a bad idea. It’s going to ruin all the hard work you put into becoming a producer. Look at it this way…how often would you hire a plumber to fix the electrical in your house? Sure, some contractors are great jacks of all trades…but my guess would be that you’d rather just call a professional that you know is qualified.
What Pays The Bills
Focus on what pays the bills. If you fall in the category of a jack of all trades like we’ve been talking about, people aren’t coming to you for your mixing skills, I promise. Have you ever heard of a client going “Yea, Josh is such a great mix engineer, I’m going to hire him to produce a song for me just so he can mix it for me!”? No. That would be ridiculous. People are hiring you to produce. People are hiring you to write or sing or engineer or topline or perform. Those are the core services people are hiring you for. Mixing and mastering are just free services you’re offering them as an incentive to hire you.
Community. I said it already, but great songs aren’t made in a vacuum. They are made with other people. I already covered most of this in another blog so I am not going to get into it too much. I will say this though, by expanding your community and team, you’re also expanding your reach. In the days of social media, everyone has a “reach” or “audience”. By outsourcing mixing and mastering, you just tripled the number of people invested in this project. That’s triple the overall audience on release day. Sure, it might seem silly, but next time you’re talking to an artist, ask them what they would rather have. A single producer sharing their new song, or a team of people who worked on the song sharing the song on Instagram and Facebook on release day? It adds up.
Let’s talk about the “professionalism” of things really quickly. My guess would be that most people in the music industry hope to someday work with some “bigger” names. It’s the same argument people use for raising their rates. The same way John Mayer and Drake would never hire someone who only charges $200 per song is the same reason they would never trust someone to co-write, produce, record, edit, mix, and master the song for them. It’s not the way you go about things in a true, professional way.
Well, you’ve made it this far. If you’re still reading this I already know what you’re thinking. “Josh, this is all great, I would love to hire someone else to mix and master for me, but the budget just isn’t there”. Ah, I’m so glad you said those words. The answer to that problem is so easy. FIND THE BUDGET. Make the budget. Train the client on why they NEED the budget to outsource these things. Your clients will respect you more if you explain to them that your mix wouldn’t do their song and your production justice. Clients will trust you more. Clients will pay you more. More clients will want to work with you because your music will sound better. Your productions will reach a larger audience with your new found community. You will have more time to work and focus on producing, writing, singing, or whatever else it is that you actually want to do, what actually pays the bills. It’s going to put you in a higher tier as a producer, writer, artist or engineer.
It’s A Mindset Thing
At the end of the day, it all comes down to what my good friend Sam Moses likes to call a scarcity mindset. He does a way better job at explaining it on his blog…but I will do my best to explain it. A scarcity mindset says I don’t have enough work and I can barely pay my bills. I am not sure of what the next project is and who will hire me next, if at all. If I outsource the mixing and mastering I will lose part of the budget, therefore, make less money on this project and in return profit even less. Sounds familiar right? We have all thought that way at one point.
A better mindset to have would be something like this… I have this project and I want it to be the best it can be so that when the next client comes along (and they will come along, I promise) and hears the previous work I have done they will not only love the overall product but also be willing to pay the full rate of what my work is worth.
So, before you go and crank out another all in one production, think about the value that others can bring. Weigh your options. See if it would make more sense long-term to bring someone else in on the project to lend a hand and an extra set of ears. I think you will be surprised by the outcome.