You are here

Thoughts about online mixing services?

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby russianpolecat » Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:23 pm

Just wondering what peoples thoughts are re the above?

I’ve decided that whilst I’m learning to mix stuff myself to a professional standard (long way off of that yet) that I’m going to try some online mixing ‘establishments’. I’m not in a position to do anything right now – not for a few months at least – but I thought I’d start to do some research/narrow down some possible choices/places to send stuff to. The reason I’m asking for advice is that there seems to be an awful lot of people advertising for ‘professional’ mixing services even as low as $60 per song. Websites like http://www.airgigs.com and a couple of others host loads of people who claim to have the gear (sometimes expensive analog gear) and the expertise to do professional mixes. Some of these guys around the $100/$125 per song mark claim to have done work for labels like ‘Warner Bros’. I'm thinking, yeah right, like you’d be charging $100 per mix if that was the case. Some of the audio clips they put up sound ok, but there is still a suspicion at the back of my mind when they make big label claims/coupled with cheapish price. There are threads on another forum – you can probably guess which one – that talk about mixes in the $100 region as being “cut price.” Or, put another way, “not very good.”

So, then I’m thinking a “pro mix” would probably be at least $300/$350 per song – another mix service, http://www.onlinemusicmixing.co.uk/ charges between £200 – £350 per song for a ‘producer’ mix, so that seems about right.

But then I come across an ad/article (not sure what you would call it) in the news section of this very website for online mixing services – http://www.soundonsound.com/news?NewsID=17036. According to the link, these guys have an excellent reputation/big labels – and the clips sounds decent. Their ‘basic’ rate for a mix seems to be as low as £99 per song, a mere £25 more than the $125 ‘cut price’ guys above.

Confusion reigns.

What do you guys think is a reasonable rate to pay per song for a professional online mix?
russianpolecat
Regular
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby Btyreman2013 » Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:31 pm

you should charge what you think your services are worth, realistically how close are you to the competition in terms of quality and how can you have a competitive edge over them.
User avatar
Btyreman2013
Regular
Posts: 64
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:00 pm

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby russianpolecat » Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:27 pm

Hi, I think I need to clarify my initial post - I can see how you would think I'm looking to charge for mixing in the near future!

Anyway, to clarify, I'm not talking about becoming an online mixer or whatever, mixing other peoples stuff, I'm looking to use online mixing services for my own music until such time that I'm (hopefully) skilled enough to be able to mix my own.

Cheers,

Chris
russianpolecat
Regular
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby CS70 » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:40 pm

My ten cents are that, with some qualification, it's not a great idea.

A couple reasons: one, I personally have come to see mixing as a creative step, not a mechanical exercise. Second, the process between producing and mixing implies - as I see it - feedback and adjustments. Online mixing, by definition, allows only for a limited interaction between who's producing and who's mixing. If it didn't, it would use a lot of time and thus be very expensive.

I had one experience a couple years back, at the very start - when I had precious few ideas of what mixing was (not to mention mastering!). I chose a reputable, not super-cheap place, sent my three tracks, waited, and got my mix. I remember being very excited about it.. but then I found that I liked my demo better! They had done a fairly reasonable job, but the result simply wasn't what I had in mind. The problem wasn't in their skills, but in the process: even with a few references, how could the engineer have known what I was after? After all, the point of making new music (to me) is *not* to copycat what came before - and thus references are of limited value.

Besides, in that kind of online setting there seems to be relatively little incentive to enter that kind of intense communication which might have brought to my actual ears what I could hear in my imagination. I got the impression the number of iterations necessary to convey my ideas to them would have been too many - just not good business for them. Or, at $25 a pop after the first change, for me.

In the end, I went the hard way: using the demo as a basis, I learnt enough stuff to get the sound I liked on the variety of devices I could use for testing (which, I figured, resembles what most people actually listens on) and off I went. I love learning and have learnt enough stuff in my life to know how to do that pretty fast almost no matter what, so it was - and it is - good fun. Lately, actually, I've been asked to mix stuff for others in the Oslo area in Norway - and I'm vaguely thinking about it. The point for them would be to have someone local with whom to work in sessions worth a few hrs, rather the impersonal "send-wait-receive" process.

In conclusion - if you think you can reference stuff which gives you precisely the sound you're after, online mixing may be worth a try: it's very inexpensive, after all. Otherwise, I think you'd be better off finding someone around your location (I know some on this forum do kind of jobs in the UK) and have a more personal process, even if time-boxed.
User avatar
CS70
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1081
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway

Silver Spoon - It's just music Check out our latest single and video!


Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby Wease » Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:09 pm

I suppose you're asking if anyone has used an online mixing service and what were their unbiased opinions of such service....which isn't that bad a question......just as reasonable a request as a hardware recommendation.

I haven't used such a service....but know that a few people who frequent this forum who do similar kinda things.....and might want to put themselves forward.

I think online services for mastering are more common....and I'm sure sos have done some articles on these services.....so those people may be worth a call......
I'd prefer, if I was to pay for a service, to have that service recommended......even if it cost a little more
User avatar
Wease
Frequent Poster
Posts: 783
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Sunny Walsall

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby russianpolecat » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:01 pm

CS70 wrote:My ten cents are that, with some qualification, it's not a great idea.

A couple reasons: one, I personally have come to see mixing as a creative step, not a mechanical exercise. Second, the process between producing and mixing implies - as I see it - feedback and adjustments. Online mixing, by definition, allows only for a limited interaction between who's producing and who's mixing. If it didn't, it would use a lot of time and thus be very expensive.

I had one experience a couple years back, at the very start - when I had precious few ideas of what mixing was (not to mention mastering!). I chose a reputable, not super-cheap place, sent my three tracks, waited, and got my mix. I remember being very excited about it.. but then I found that I liked my demo better! They had done a fairly reasonable job, but the result simply wasn't what I had in mind. The problem wasn't in their skills, but in the process: even with a few references, how could the engineer have known what I was after? After all, the point of making new music (to me) is *not* to copycat what came before - and thus references are of limited value.

Besides, in that kind of online setting there seems to be relatively little incentive to enter that kind of intense communication which might have brought to my actual ears what I could hear in my imagination. I got the impression the number of iterations necessary to convey my ideas to them would have been too many - just not good business for them. Or, at My ten cents are that, with some qualification, it's not a great idea.

A couple reasons: one, I personally have come to see mixing as a creative step, not a mechanical exercise. Second, the process between producing and mixing implies - as I see it - feedback and adjustments. Online mixing, by definition, allows only for a limited interaction between who's producing and who's mixing. If it didn't, it would use a lot of time and thus be very expensive.

I had one experience a couple years back, at the very start - when I had precious few ideas of what mixing was (not to mention mastering!). I chose a reputable, not super-cheap place, sent my three tracks, waited, and got my mix. I remember being very excited about it.. but then I found that I liked my demo better! They had done a fairly reasonable job, but the result simply wasn't what I had in mind. The problem wasn't in their skills, but in the process: even with a few references, how could the engineer have known what I was after? After all, the point of making new music (to me) is *not* to copycat what came before - and thus references are of limited value.

Besides, in that kind of online setting there seems to be relatively little incentive to enter that kind of intense communication which might have brought to my actual ears what I could hear in my imagination. I got the impression the number of iterations necessary to convey my ideas to them would have been too many - just not good business for them. Or, at 5 a pop after the first change, for me.

In the end, I went the hard way: using the demo as a basis, I learnt enough stuff to get the sound I liked on the variety of devices I could use for testing (which, I figured, resembles what most people actually listens on) and off I went. I love learning and have learnt enough stuff in my life to know how to do that pretty fast almost no matter what, so it was - and it is - good fun. Lately, actually, I've been asked to mix stuff for others in the Oslo area in Norway - and I'm vaguely thinking about it. The point for them would be to have someone local with whom to work in sessions worth a few hrs, rather the impersonal "send-wait-receive" process.

In conclusion - if you think you can reference stuff which gives you precisely the sound you're after, online mixing may be worth a try: it's very inexpensive, after all. Otherwise, I think you'd be better off finding someone around your location (I know some on this forum do kind of jobs in the UK) and have a more personal process, even if time-boxed. 5 a pop after the first change, for me.

In the end, I went the hard way: using the demo as a basis, I learnt enough stuff to get the sound I liked on the variety of devices I could use for testing (which, I figured, resembles what most people actually listens on) and off I went. I love learning and have learnt enough stuff in my life to know how to do that pretty fast almost no matter what, so it was - and it is - good fun. Lately, actually, I've been asked to mix stuff for others in the Oslo area in Norway - and I'm vaguely thinking about it. The point for them would be to have someone local with whom to work in sessions worth a few hrs, rather the impersonal "send-wait-receive" process.

In conclusion - if you think you can reference stuff which gives you precisely the sound you're after, online mixing may be worth a try: it's very inexpensive, after all. Otherwise, I think you'd be better off finding someone around your location (I know some on this forum do kind of jobs in the UK) and have a more personal process, even if time-boxed.

Thanks. Yeah, I can absolutely hear what you are saying. Attending a session would be my 1st choice, but, as you say, online mixing is cheaper. Also, artists aren't always in attendance for mix sessions mainstream music biz wise I wouldn't think, but of course, the mixers are the top people in the industry who have been hired precisely because of the way/how they mix etc. But that's the point I suppose. What determines a 'pro' sound? Is an online mix for £99 just going to be about getting levels balanced, eq, compression (which might be enough in some circumstances to make it sound good, depending on amount of trks, style of music etc.) and so on or is it going to be properly 'finessed' with fx. Interesting.
russianpolecat
Regular
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby russianpolecat » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:06 pm

Wease wrote:I suppose you're asking if anyone has used an online mixing service and what were their unbiased opinions of such service....which isn't that bad a question......just as reasonable a request as a hardware recommendation.

I haven't used such a service....but know that a few people who frequent this forum who do similar kinda things.....and might want to put themselves forward.

I think online services for mastering are more common....and I'm sure sos have done some articles on these services.....so those people may be worth a call......
I'd prefer, if I was to pay for a service, to have that service recommended......even if it cost a little more

Hi. Indeed, as much as anything, I think it is an interesting discussion from the perspective that there are probably a number of people in my position, wondering how to get stuff to sound as good as possible (I realise that's a subjective thing) and looking at the online mixing route as a possibility to achieve that.
russianpolecat
Regular
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby The Elf » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:40 pm

Well, nobody that ever tried me has had cause to complain!

Seriously, PM me and we can discuss!
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9936
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby CS70 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:06 am

russianpolecat wrote:
Also, artists aren't always in attendance for mix sessions mainstream music biz wise I wouldn't think, but of course, the mixers are the top people in the industry who have been hired precisely because of the way/how they mix etc.

Yeah, but in commercial stuff there's lots of repetitive crap. Well mixed tough.

There's also a difference between the artist (say a singer, or pop type) and the producer. It just so happens that I (like many others, perhaps including you) act as both.


But that's the point I suppose. What determines a 'pro' sound? Is an online mix for £99 just going to be about getting levels balanced, eq, compression (which might be enough in some circumstances to make it sound good, depending on amount of trks, style of music etc.) and so on or is it going to be properly 'finessed' with fx. Interesting.

"Pro" sound? Imho, nothing. Maybe what you are asking is what makes a great sound? A "quality" sound? I get recollections of "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" at this point. It's a difficult question.

Certain people seem to get satisfied customers most of the time, and that's a good indication.
User avatar
CS70
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1081
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway

Silver Spoon - It's just music Check out our latest single and video!


Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby James Perrett » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:20 am

I've done a little online mixing - but only with clients where I've worked in the traditional way first. I find that people perceive things in so many different ways and their expectations are so different so it would be difficult to achieve results that are going to work for that particular client without doing a mixing session with them present first. Mind you, I seem to find myself working mainly with older clients at the moment who have a certain amount of experience and who have an idea of the sound they are looking for.
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 5769
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: The wilds of Hampshire

JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
http://www.jrpmusic.co.uk


Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby Sam Inglis » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:31 am

As others have said, I suspect that the cheaper online services will tend to deliver a 'cookie cutter' approach, where someone quickly applies a known set of processors to any given instrument rather than experimenting to find the best approach for the song, or doing labour-intensive work like detailed volume level automation.

We are always looking for projects to cover in our Mix Rescue column, so you'd be very welcome to send in a multitrack to the SOS office. And that would be free...
Sam Inglis
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1909
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:00 am

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby Jack Ruston » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:19 pm

I think for any mix to be effective there needs to be a lot of communication between the artist and the mixer. The mixes I've done that have gone wrong or missed the mark have always been a result of a lack of effective communication with the client. The idea that you upload stuff and get a mix back without that communication is just crazy really.

That said, there's nothing worse than a client who insists on attending. I totally understand that some people want to learn from the process and I for one am always happy to go through the mix in great detail with a client and explain my choices and working method. But the actual process of mixing itself is an organic one that can be bewildering to an attending client. They have no idea what you're listening to, or for and why the mix might be in a certain shape at a certain time. You often appear to be going backwards rather than forwards, and the progression of the mix is not a linear journey from unmixed to mixed. The client sitting behind you fussing about the weird bass sound when you're working on the backing vocals is unhelpful to put it mildly. For me the most effective approach is one where the client communicates what they're looking for and you then get the mix into a decent shape based on that information. They come in and you make changes according to their input. To have the client sitting there the whole time not only interferes with the mixing, but it also ruins the crucial advantage of getting the clients initial reaction to the mix. You learn a lot about the mix in that moment and to lose that is a mistake IMO.

So I think remote mixing can work very well provided the communication is right. Online mixing...not so sure. In terms of money I think that £200 to £350 figure is realistic for a good quality job. It's not that nobody cheaper will be good, but that's what I'd expect to pay.

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3471
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby russianpolecat » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:30 pm

Yeah, absolutely. A quality sound is what I meant. And, it is a difficult question as I mentioned, and you mentioned, because it is largely subjective.
russianpolecat
Regular
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby russianpolecat » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:38 pm

Yes, it's clearer to me after this discussion that the 'cut price' approach is going to be a basic service (which again, might sound ok if the thing is easy to mix/doesn't require that much work/low trk count and so on) in terms of the amount of time spent on the trk, esp related to automation and those sorts of 'nasties' as you say .

RE the mix rescue thing, I'll keep that in mind!
russianpolecat
Regular
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby russianpolecat » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:41 pm

Yes, the communication/relationship thing is a crucial part of it I think. That's what you get if you pay that little bit extra.
russianpolecat
Regular
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby russianpolecat » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:54 pm

The other element of that (consistent communication) that I'm seeing is a 'journey' to a finished mix. In other words, a single process (no pun etc.) as opposed to possibly 3 or 4 major revisions with some of the cheaper guys (which will start to push the cost up closer to the £200 mark anyway) and even then you still might not be entirely satisfied at the end of the day.
russianpolecat
Regular
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby russianpolecat » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:02 pm

One other question, if we accept that £200 - £350 per song is reasonable in terms of a per song basis, is that from the perspective of tracks in a 'mix ready' state - i.e all vocal tuning issues sorted/that sort of thing. Or would the above include things like transferring stuff to tape and then reimporting back into a session?
russianpolecat
Regular
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby Jack Ruston » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:19 pm

For that money I would want it to be properly produced. The tuning thing is a bone of contention. It shouldn't be left to the mixer, and there's an argument that says that the mixer shouldn't make what is clearly a production decision...ie to pitch correct the vocals and by how much. But the reality is that people are lazy and don't do it. They expect the mixer to fix it. Regarding running things onto tape...well that's a slightly different matter. It's not something you'd really expect a mixer to do as a matter of course. If they happen to do that as part of their process, either for effect or because they mix off tape, that's up to them. If you request that it's done that's up to you. If I were asked for something like that I'd most likely point them you to FX. It's up to you to choose whether you prefer the tape prints or the digital. I wouldn't want to be given dual sets of files. On a related note, it's very frustrating as a mixer when people track multiple options of either takes or mics, and then expect the mixer to choose. I don't mind if there are multiple guitar mics, balanced in a particular blend (that I can tweak if I need to). But I don't want to guess at the sound the client wants on personal things like that.

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3471
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:16 pm

I have to say I have always thought what a complicated model online mixing must be. A mix can literally go anywhere just consider effects processing as one mere example. It is not impossible but certainly not trivial. When I went freelance I have done it a couple of times many moons ago for occasional clients who seemed happy. The need for clear concise communication is extremely high.

I think if I was you if you were planning on using one make copious notes about what you do and do not want, maybe provide notes on what you audibly imagine. Check revision policy carefully. It is an exceptionally creative stage in the production and as such how much "letting go" into another persons hands must be made clear from the outset.

Not being funny but if the price was in budget I think I would hire Jack above !

And if he costs a bit more surely the extra outlay would save so much hassle. Online mixing is not likely to be a hassle free territory in my opinion.

If your budget is very tight I have heard good mixes from here, in Brum:

http://www.univibeaudio.co.uk/

SafeandSound Mastering
My music related blog entries
User avatar
SafeandSound Mastering
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 12:00 am
Location: London UK

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby Phil O » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:44 pm

I can only echo the sentiments expressed in this thread regarding expectation and communication. Having done online mixing, it is most definitively possible to produce results that a client is ultimately happy with.

However, IME it takes far longer than it might 'face to face' where revisions can be discussed, tried and approved in real time. Even with good prep work and clear instructions, be prepared for up to 10 revisions. Not all mixers are cool with constantly tweaking things, at least not without additional payments.

P
User avatar
Phil O
Frequent Poster
Posts: 780
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Scotland

 


Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby Jack Ruston » Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:24 pm

SafeandSound Mastering wrote:
Not being funny but if the price was in budget I think I would hire Jack above !

That's a nice endorsement - Thank you. I hope my client agrees...I'm going to send their mix in a minute!
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3471
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby The Elf » Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:36 pm

The important thing with working at distance is to be realistic with expectations. No amount of distance communication of any kind is a substitute for sitting in on a mix and meeting face to face.

But...

In my experience having a client sit in is often not the best and most economical way to get the job done. When I'm working on-site I prefer to be left alone for at least a couple of hours to get a basic mix in place, before I begin to get a little more 'creative'. I will then call in the client to see if I'm heading in the right direction.

When I'm mixing for a client over the net it's just the same. I'll create a 'static' basic mix and refer it back to my client to see if I'm in the ball park. It's really no different.

Of course there is a lot of creativity to mixing, and it is here that it can be difficult to judge a client's tastes. If I'm pushing things then again I will refer back to the client.

But the idea that a client sitting behind me and guiding every decision is not my idea of adding my own value in skills and creativity and, once I have a client's trust, I think they would look at it that way too (most seem to). After all, I'm not hired to push buttons by remote control - I'm hired because I can do something uniquely magical to a song. Either I knock their socks off, or we shake hands and move on. I've never had to endure the latter...
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9936
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby Tony O'Shea » Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:49 pm

Two very positive and important things that both The Elf and Jack demonstrate in this forum again and again for anyone interested in on-line mixers are that:

1/ both are able to effectively communicate with people on a range of issues including technical audio related ones.

2/ both are here for the long term. Some on-line services are 'here today, gone tomorrow' particularly if/when you need a revision.

Best,
Tony
User avatar
Tony O'Shea
Regular
Posts: 80
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:00 pm

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby Jack Ruston » Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:28 pm

I had a situation not so long ago where an artists manager said to me 'X doesn't want you to mix the track. He wants to mix it. But he doesn't know how to mix, so he wants to be the brain while you work the controls'. Leaving ego aside I tried to explain that mixing is an organic, creative flow. The mixer can't mix if someone else is calling every shot. It's just not practical. I advised that X find a mixer whose work he likes and let the person do the job for them properly. It is unclear if X's project has been completed and what the results were!

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3471
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Thoughts about online mixing services?

Postby russianpolecat » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:29 pm

Just like to say thanks guys for a good deal of discussion on this thread - really clarified my thoughts on the subject!
russianpolecat
Regular
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:00 pm


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests