Every creation of a piece of music eventually reaches a stage where the focus needs to transition from song writing/production to down mixing.
Every jingle, rock ballad, film score, sing-a-long, pop song and club banger comes to a point where bringing everything together, ensuring competitiveness and translation, and simply put, maximizing the emotional impact of the song, gets the highest priority. With the availability of high quality mixdowns to just about everyone, there should no longer be any more excuses for releasing something not quite hitting that standard. If you are serious about your work, people will expect it to be mixed down properly.
At that point, there are really only two options. Either you mix it down yourself, or you pass it on to a professional mix engineer. Of course, giving away a track to be mixed by someone else is no easy decision. Perhaps you have been slaving away over this piece of music for a long time. It’s your baby. When listening to it, a world of emotional potential unfolds in your head. How could this other person possibly grasp the complexity of what you are trying to achieve and make it happen?
Let me tell you, those are all valid thoughts. And in fact, the main priority for a good mix engineer is to understand this relationship between an artist and their creation, to nurture it and bring it to fruition. They let the emotions in the music speak for themselves and let them dictate the decision making. It is through this that a good mix engineer will have the skills to take that creation much further than the artist ever imagined.
A healthy relationship between an artist and a mix engineer is one of trust. The artist knows what the mix engineer is capable of and that they always have their back. The artist knows that the mix engineer’s ego is applied in the right way, being honest about making decisions and giving feedback, and being 100% dedicated to fulfilling the tracks potential. The mix engineer on the other hand knows that they have this trust, giving them the room to try ideas and realise the vision for the song the best way they can.
So when should you seek such a relationship?
The most obvious reason is that you can’t get the mix right yourself. This may be because your skills aren’t up to scratch, because you lack the time, or perhaps because you are so intimately involved with the music through the production process that you have lost the objectivity to make the necessary decisions at mixdown.
Similarly you may feel that bringing a second pair of ears to the process would benefit the end result, even though you are perfectly capable of making a solid mix.
Some people also just can’t warm to the process making every mixdown feel like an uphill battle.
What ever the reason may be, in my opinion, hiring a mix engineer will always lead to more creativity, more fun in the process, higher confidence, and in the end, better music. I think it is well worth the investment, and I hope by now, you do too.