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Mix Etiquette

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Mix Etiquette

Postby Dave B » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:23 pm

So, over the weekend, in order to improve my mixing skills (and definitely not just to avoid the hoovering), I grabbed a multitrack project from a well known site and started to wade through it. There was a lot of stuff in there and most of it well played, but the drums .... they’d obviously been constructed using samples and some of it was gratingly out of time. I think I get what the guy was trying to do, but it was just not right.

This surprised me so I had a quick listen to some of the mixes on the site and they all had dodgy drums. It looks like the artist is a regular so I don’t know if some diplomacy was in play - and big props to the guy for putting something up. I don’t want to knock him, but I have a real issue with his track.

In the end, I figured that he will probably never hear my mix, so I’ve reverse engineered a midi version and will edit and tweak accordingly. But I am acutely aware that I am now not just mixing - I’m interfering with his track. I hope I’ll make it better, but I could also mortally offend the chap.

So, question: to those who mix for other people - do you mix what’s there? Tweak little hits? Chop in better bars? Replace wholesale?

And how do you handle the artist? Try and sneak it by? Do a fix version and then run it by them? Or be totally up front and risk causing offence?
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Re: Mix Etiquette

Postby CS70 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:27 pm

Dave B wrote:But I am acutely aware that I am now not just mixing - I’m interfering with his track.

Er.. what you mean with not mixing? :bouncy:
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Re: Mix Etiquette

Postby Jack Ruston » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:49 pm

So it depends...

If the artist is relatively inexperienced, or has self-produced, it's your responsibility to raise any issues in the multitrack. Not to nit pick, or point out small things that you could just fix easily, but big issues with the production that you feel will greatly affect the resulting mix. Rhythm section timing certainly falls under that umbrella. The point is that the artist is hiring a mixer, because they want, and expect, a professional result. They don't necessarily know what part of that result is in the tracking and production, and what is really more of a mix issue. The lines do blur. Anyway, if you believe that the production is not able to support the artists expectation in terms of results, you have to raise this before you embark on a money spending endeavour for them.

Now, obviously they can then say 'no no, it's ok, I know it's wonky but I like it' in which case crack on. They now can't claim to dislike the mix because of the timing, but you might need to express the sentiment that if the timing is off, the punch and impact of the mix might be reduced. The impact of the vocal might be lessened by distracting things happening in the rhythm section. It's a problem.

Either way, you put them in the picture, and let them decide- fix the production, leave it, let you fix it.

If, on the other hand, you're mixing tracks for big names, with professionals involved already, assume that those decisions are deliberate, provided you can clearly hear them in the provided rough mix. If it sounds like the parts in the multi are not the same as the rough, raise it...it might be that there's been a mistake somewhere. Otherwise assume that they know what they want, and politically avoid questioning those decisions.
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Re: Mix Etiquette

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:27 am

If the result is for anything other than private listening then unless there is guidance on the original site regarding what you can/can't do with the project I would ask if they have any objection to you modifying the material.

You don't have to mention the drums up front but once you've rendered a version which improves them to your ears if you send them a link they'll probably hear that improvement for themselves. There's nothing stopping you from putting together a few bullet-points on what you changed and why and sending them that info either.

I've recently been in touch with someone about one of my tracks being remixed and they asked me whether I would prefer them to keep the original 'as is' in terms of content or whether I was open to them applying some additional creativity to it, which I found quite thoughtful of them.

If it's for private purposes only, I'd probably not bother asking as they (or anyone else) will not hear the result but if you're going to put the result online somewhere like SoundCloud then I'd certainly seek their approval.

Similarly, on the rare occasions I do a cover or re-interpretation of someone else's work I always ask. So far I've never had a refusal and generally people seem to be quite pleased that someone else is interested enough in their work to want to spend time on it.
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