Many engineers, musicians, producers & mixers have had those sessions where we feel like we’re invincible. Everything is falling into place perfectly. We’re absolutely crushing the task we were brought in to do and feeling great about it. That’s a great feeling to have as a creative person working on a piece of art.
We’ve also experienced to polar opposite of that scenario, often more frequently if we’re being perfectionists about our work. No matter what you do, you just kind find the sound your after. You can’t capture the right take or get the tracks to sit right in your mix. It feels like you’re trying to force two pieces of different puzzles together.
Most of the time, we sit firmly in the middle of these two situations. Endlessly bouncing back and forth between the reward of good work and the frustration of failure. No matter what we feel about these sessions though, we really need the feedback (both good and bad) to keep us growing professionally.
If you’re a client-facing individual (someone that records bands or works with them on their songwriting/production), having continuous feedback a part of your production environment can be hugely beneficial to the whole process. If there are issues with anything and you can get them aired out as they arise, you’re saving yourself hours of revisions vs. the guy who wants everyone to keep quiet and do there job.
Encouraging the artists you’re working with to contribute whatever they can offer creates an environment that ultimately builds great songs. Just like a moderator, producers and engineers are tasked with keeping things constructive in a way that is always directed at capturing the best possible recordings.
Feedback isn’t about tearing someone’s work down; it’s about finding ways to make everything work together for the song. As long as everyone’s on the same page, you can facilitate that happening.
Once you’ve completed tracking and had a chance to clean up your session, you get to move on to the mix. For many engineers, this is their domain. While musicians often have suggestions during tracking, they’re less likely to have input on your mix (after all, it’s why they’re counting on you to do it)! But mixing in isolation is one of the worst mistakes you could make.
Mixing is a very personal process that involves developing your ears to pick out the small details that make a song sound polished and professional. To develop these skills, you need to spend time listening to mixes that you aspire to match the quality of. It’s about learning your listening environment as much as it is building your own workflow and process.
If you’re just starting in a new room or with new gear (monitors, headphones, etc.), don’t worry about going it alone. Get feedback from your peers and the pros you trust to give honest feedback. People are more accessible than ever these days, so learning what others think of your work is a great way of improving what you do.
I think feedback on mixes is so important that I offer mix critiques to all JST VIP members as part of their membership. It takes time, but I think it’s one of the most valuable things you can do for other mixers and producers. I’m always glad to see an engineer take feedback that I provide, revisit their mix, and end up with a final result that I’d be proud to call my own.
Feedback doesn’t just have to be received, you know?
If you’re serious about owning the work you do, don’t let a mastering engineer say that something is done unless you’re 100% happy with it. I’ve heard horror stories of mixes getting passed off for mastering and getting crushed with compression to the point where they had no feel. When I asked if they asked for revisions, I got a surprised reaction.
Some engineers don’t even think about asking for revisions, despite providing revisions themselves.
Mastering should take your song to new heights – enhancing what you’ve done, not destroying it. If you’re not happy with what a mastering engineer has done with your mix, ask him if he could make a few edits.
Over time, you’ll develop relationships with certain mastering engineers that will consistently provide the mastered results you want. I have a few that I trust with my mixes no matter what, and to this day if there’s a small revision I need (rarely happens), I can just call them up or shoot them a text and it’s taken care of.
Can You Help Other Engineers With Feedback?
If you’re someone that’s gotten feedback about your mixes and applied it, you know how much of a difference it can make to the end result. Our community of engineers and producers has a wide range of experience from those just getting started to those that have been doing pro audio work for years.
We’d love to have you join our community to share whatever feedback or guidance you can with other members who are experiencing similar obstacles in their music careers to the ones you may have faced yourself. Come join the conversation today!