You completed your beloved song. You gave it your heart and your soul. You struggled with it so many nights. Now, it has to be perfect. Because so many people will listen to it. It’s an “obligation” to hear because it is “too” good. So, I suggest you work with a mixing engineer to whom you trust.
You gave your stems and received the final mix. Now it’s time for the revisions, the worst part of making a song. You could try these steps to make your revision stage easier.
- How many revisions for free?
It would be great to know how many revisions will be done for free before you start mix notes if you work with him/her for the first time. He has to tell you that before he began to mix, but maybe you missed something, or he forgot to say. It would be better to be clear about that.
For example, I do three revisions for free. Of course, sometimes, if the client is my friend or if I know him very well, I do forth or fifth revision for free. But mostly, three revisions are enough for taking the song to the point that makes everyone happy.
- Bring your band together.
If you’re a band, and everyone asks something different about their instrument in a separate e-mail, message, or phone call, nobody can get the desired mix. First of all, every instrument player would want their instrument to be heard. But I’m afraid there is no mix like that. Every track has a different purpose. Some need to support others, and some need to be upfront. If you make every instrument upfront, you can’t make a precise mix.
You have to pick a band member and let him talk with the mixing engineer alone. If you have contending requests, you have to solve these problems in the band. Of course, maybe you can’t decide what to do, in this case, you can ask your mixing engineer’s opinion about that.
The producer will pursue this process, and he will help you with these decisions if you have one, but you have to pick somebody to take the producer’s place if you don’t have one because there is no democracy in a song.
- Your pen is your memory.
You don’t want to be in a situation like that:
-Hey man, why you didn’t increase the vocal reverb on the bridges?
+You haven’t told me about that.
-But we talked on the phone last day, and I told you about that.
+No, I don’t remember actually. But it’s okay. If you send me 50 bucks, I will do it immediately.
It would always be better to keep revisions organized in an e-mail. This way, you can find easily what did you say and what you didn’t, and nobody can say, “I don’t remember.”
Sometimes it’s tough to tell what you want to do with written words. Sometimes you have to discuss with mixing engineer what to do about it. You can always talk to him via phone call or Skype, but don’t forget to take notes while you’re talking with him and send him these notes after you’ve finished talking. There is no need to be offended with that. It’s just for everybody’s favor.
Also, one more little note about this is; keep your revisions under one e-mail. This way, it could be easier to find these notes and understand them after one month.
- Send him examples.
Sometimes you can’t tell what you want about your bass tone, and the mixing engineer is here because of that. It would be better to send him some reference songs instead of trying to explain to him with awkward words.
But this one is a little difficult because maybe your recording doesn’t match your expectations. You can gently ask your mixing engineer if it’s possible or not. For example, you can’t ask huge drums if you recorded them in a tiny room. Yes, he could try to do that with reverbs and EQs, but you can’t get what you want precisely with that approach.
Mixing starts while you’re recording. If you have a mixing engineer that you trust and knows your sound, and if he lives near to you, you can take him to your recording sessions. This way, he could try to replace the producer’s place and make things as he would want on the mixing stage. I work with some bands like that, and it’s much easier to get the desired sound with this approach.
- Do not ask so many people.
It’s so easy to get lost with so many people’s opinions about your mix because there will be so many different approaches and tastes. I promise nobody will say, “Yea, it’s perfect.” Everybody will say something if you ask, and you will get confused. You have to trust yourself and your mixing engineer. Don’t work with him if you don’t trust, after all.
Try to take a break if you get lost about your song. Ask your mixing engineer to wait one or two days before the next revision. Don’t listen to your song even just one time on this break. If you still can’t decide what to do after this break, you can ask one or two close people who know your taste and have good ears. But it could be a bad idea to ask another mixing engineer’s feedback and tell this to your mixing engineer because he would get offended. You won’t want to make your mixing engineer get offended on the mix notes.
I had some mixes that I didn’t make any revisions. I have to say it feels incredible because we, the mixing engineers, always want to make people like our mixes one the first shot. I always say, “Man, they will love that mix, and they won’t ask any revision for sure!” Of course, they ask revisions most of the time.
I hope you can find a mixing engineer who could understand your vision and wishes about your music, and you don’t have to ask so many revisions.