How To Start Mixing Music For A Living

If you’re already mixing music but you’re not getting paid for it, I’m sure you’d love to start. There are plenty of self-recording, self-mixing & self-producing musicians out there – the ones who act as the “technical” person in the band or create music for their own solo project. If this sounds like you, I’ve got some great news.

You have exactly what you need to start getting paid to record & mix other bands and artists right now!

I’m not saying that full-time work is going to come to you in an instant. That’s going to take some time to achieve. But if your mixes are good and you follow a few key steps I’ve outlined below, you can be turning the gear and experience you already have into regular income while helping others achieve their artistic vision in the process.

Let’s take a look at how and why you can get started right now…

Build a Solid Mix Portfolio

The first thing you need before anyone is going to hire you for their project is something to show them. Nobody cares what kind of DAW you’re using or the plugins you have if you can’t show you know how to use them.

If you don’t already have a portfolio of work, start pulling one together. Start with your own music or past projects you’ve worked on with others that you had a hand in. Begin entering mix competitions online & include those mixes in your portfolio if they’ll allow you to. Often, these competition tracks are already pristine source audio files to start from, so your job as a mixer will already be an easier one.

If you’re struggling to fill out your portfolio, don’t be afraid to do some free work on projects that you’re passionate about. You might be friends with a band that has a really unique sound but isn’t prepared to spend money recording or mixing their music. If you see value in having their music in your portfolio, it can be worth doing a bit of pro-bono work that helps launch both your career and theirs.

Even without bands to work with directly, aspiring mixers have more access to raw sessions and tracks than ever before. Take, for example, the Nail the Mix program. As part of Nail the Mix, members get access to Portfolio Builder - a complete library of multi-tracks cleared for use in your portfolio.

Showcase Your Skills

Once you’ve got some mixes to show off, set yourself up so you can get your portfolio in front of the right people. Publish your portfolio to SoundCloud or another platform where you can easily generate a link to a playlist of your best work. At this point, you should have everything you need to build out a website where you can include a short bio, embed a SoundCloud playlist, tell potential clients what you can do for them, and provide contact information.

Use a free site builder or template from a site like Wix to get up and running quickly. You can always spend money to improve your site later if you want to add extra functionality.

Your website will act as your virtual business card, but it’s way more effective since people can hear your work right then and there.

Your first paid clients should come from those you’ve already worked with. That band that you recorded a song for free of charge? See if they’re ready to record another. If the quality was good and they received positive feedback about it, chances are they might. Who knows – they might even want to step up to an EP or full album!

Rely on your existing network for your earliest clients. Anyone you’ve ever recorded, played in a band with, played a show with, or know through mutual friends are the easiest ones to convert into paying clients. From there, start going to local shows and participating in online communities.

While local options were all mixers used to have when they were just getting started, there are more new opportunities online every day. Look for context in every social media post or online forum for bands that might be looking for someone to work with and get active!

Grow Your Rates Over Time

The final piece of the puzzle is pricing. I don’t care if you’ve got the best mix a band has ever heard, without a big name behind it, you’re not worth as much as somebody with GRAMMYs and gold records. Look at it this way…

A band without a label isn’t going to have a huge budget most of the time, but they’ll spend more to work with someone with big label results. Your mixing rates need to be on-par with the acts you’re working with at the time. Start with a modest rate that’s affordable.

As bands you work with grow or you start working with bands with label backing, you can increase your rates to match. The band you worked with for cheap that went on to get signed is going to add value just like working with an already signed band is. Know your worth!

There is one primary reason you should increase your rate: demand.

The more in-demand your services are, the more you should be charging. If you’re doing this for side income, work for cheap until the time you can dedicate to it is filled up. Once you’ve filled those slots, increase your rate until you could realistically stop doing it as a side gig and turn it into a full-time job.

Once you’ve got steady enough work, make it happen!

There’s nothing complicated about pricing your services other than you stating what your time and skills are worth. Be transparent with your clients & most importantly – once you’ve got a decent portfolio, stop working for free!

Start With The Skills

All of this is predicated on your ability to craft a great mix. I have no doubt that you’ve likely got all the tools you need right inside your DAW already, but do you know how to use them effectively?

If the answer isn’t a resounding “yes”, check out some of our other blogs and subscribe to our emails below. If you really want a crash course in mixing and recording music, join JST VIP today, where you’ll get access to tons of guides and content focused on helping you become a better mixer. Members are even able to submit mixes for critique and receive feedback about ways they could improve.

Check it out!