Monday, July 13, 2009

When Mixing Doesn't Matter

I surprise clients sometimes with my attitude about mixing in that I think it is one of the least important parts of the project. Now don’t get me wrong, I will spend forever on a mix and tweak till the wee hours of the morning. But what’s often overlooked in the process is the song. A great mix does not make a great song.

I had a client in here that truly was the biggest pain I’ve EVER had in terms of mix revisions. Normally when I do a mix I will send the client an mp3 for every revision. Most of the time it never goes beyond 3 or 4. On this particular mix I had 20! And the tweaks involve minute changes to nearly inaudible sounds that frankly don’t matter because you can barely hear them and the song SUCKED! (When I am producing you are certainly going to get my input on the quality of the song. But in my role as a mixer I usually keep that to myself). What gets me is how obviously bad this song is in terms of lyrics, style, performance I mean everything. And these guys just can’t see what is so clear to everyone else. The mix at this point sounds great, but it won’t make a difference.

I mixed “Party Like A Rockstar” in 4 hours including recording the guitar part. It isn’t one of my better mixes for sure. I would have spent more time on it, but the song literally blew up in a matter of days and the label decided to just keep running with it. But it didn’t matter that the mix was so-so. The song was a hit!

I spent several days mixing “Throw Some D’s” and had countless revisions over a several month period. I thought Polow was being a little picky about a few minor things. But then Polow is a great producer and he makes hits. This was a situation where some of the changes he made later in the process did make a difference in the outcome and we would never have gotten there if Polow hadn’t been tweaking like crazy.

My point of all this is make sure your song is actually good before you invest so much time and money in it. Test it on people at clubs, performances, at work... anywhere. Be honest with yourself about your work.

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