5 tips to optimize your mix revisions
Mix revisions. We all get them. Revisions are a part of working professionally with audio and sending your mixes to clients. As for mixing engineers, we’re trying to capture the vibe and feel of a song and bring that out even more in the mixing phase. Having the artist being a part of the mixing process helps achieve this goal immensely.
Even though mix revisions can help bring the mix in the right directions, they can also be a big time-consumer – Especially in this digital age where a lot of mixes are done with no face-to-face interaction. And let’s face it; they are not as much fun as mixing 🙂 But there’s a way of optimizing your revision process – hence getting more right with the client in the first mix. Here are 5 awesome tips for optimizing your production, mixing or mastering revision process.
1. The mix revisions starts before the mix…
Getting to know exactly what your client wants before you start mixing, is a major key in minimizing your mix revisions – almost self-explanatory, I know, but hear me out. From the first contact, you need to figure out what kind of needs the client has. Are they low on budget and looking for a quick mix for a demo, or are they out looking for the best mix money can get? What visions do they have for the song, their music and their music career? What went through their head when writing the song? Are there any parts of the song that the artist doesn’t like too much? What parts does the artist love? All this information is key for you as a mixing engineer. You need to get into the mindset of the artist, so you can make the best possible mix for that exact client.
Like many other things in life, it’s also about aligning expectations. What does the artist expect from you? Do they expect an AAA-grade mixing engineer with zero-to-none delivery time? Can you fulfil this demand? Always keep it honest – otherwise, you may disappoint the artist in the long run.
Bottom line: Communicate with your client and get to understand where they are coming from and where they are going – even before the mixing starts. Here are a few great questions to ask your client before you start to work on their music.
2. Great file management
It’s always a good idea to properly name your mix version and store them in a logical way. Things can get messy and confusing when you’re naming mixes like “Best Song Evar – More bass” and saving them where ever your DAW guides you to, and you might end up doing the same revisions twice because you can’t find the correct file. Instead, double down on a naming and filing system that works for you. I like to keep all my mixes I’ve sent to a client in a separate folder for that track. I always name my bounces v.1, v.2 etc in ascending order. That way I can easily find the newest version. If you want to get real fancy you can colour-code your folders. Maybe red represents projects that you haven’t started yet, while yellow means you’re working on them and green means sent.
Bottom line: Be structured in your file management! It’s boring, I know, but it will save your a#€.
3. Use a tool to deliver and receive corrections
Another great way of minimizing the time spent doing mix revisions is to facilitate corrections in a structured way for the client. New tools are surfacing where it’s possible to make time-stamped comments which the tool structures for you in multiple ways. This will take away the confusion and the time spent sorting out and trying to understand unstructured comments from the client. There are a couple of different tools out there at the moment. We, of course, recommend our own Audome.com 🙂 We’re the only ones offering a completely free plan and not just a trial. I won’t bore you with sales points here. If you want to know more, you can check out our website. Some of the tools also come with extra functionality to make the whole process of delivering and receiving corrections on a mix a much more pleasant experience for you and your client. You owe it to yourself if you haven’t yet checked out any of the audio revision tools available.
Bottom line: Make revisions easier for yourself by enabling your client to make structured comments.
4. Know where the problem is
When you get a comment about something the client wants to have changed, think about where the problem is. Is the problem in the mix? If so, you can easily fix it. But sometimes the problem lies further upstream of making the song. The client might be asking you to fix something that can actually only be fixed in the production, recording, or song-writing stage. Knowing exactly where the problem is and your limit to what you can fix is key in making the revision process as streamlined as possible. Trying to fix something that can more easily be fixed in the product, will probably only lead to more corrections for you, as you can’t to the correction to the quality the client expects. Instead, kindly and thoughtfully propose a change further upstream. Explain why the correction is best made earlier in the process. Sometimes there’s no possibility for making changes in the product. In that case, you just have to fix it to the best of your ability.
Going through this thought process will help eliminate trying to fix something, that maybe should have been fixed in an earlier stage of the song-making. Knowing exactly where the problem is, also helps you zone in and do the correction quickly without having to try different stuff for a fix.
Bottom line: Know where the problem is and know your limits.
5. It’s not your song!
This last one is a short and simple one, but never the less important. Leave the ego when you’re are mixing for clients. You are hired by an artist and therefore working for the client. They probably booked you because they like your style, so you should always give the mix your personal mojo. But you should never go against something the client is asking, just because you think your idea is better. If the client is asking for the bass to be the lead instrument, you don’t go “I’m not gonna do that, because the vocal is what should be in focus in this song”, just because you think it’s better. You can and should question a client’s comments if they are strange to you – but do it kindly and explain why you think it might not work. For example “Having the bass this loud might interfere with the lead vocal making it hard for your audience to hear the lyrics and relate to them. I can make the bass as loud as you want, but it comes at a cost.”. The client has a vision for their music and you have to respect that as a hired mixing engineer.
Bottom line: It’s not your song
I hope this has been helpful! Now go do the most important thing – implement the above steps. Nothing will happen, if you don’t take action.
– Daniel at Audome