If you can keep watching past the bad jokes and awkward tough audience, this guy has got some amazing insights!
Miked, I’m glad you posted this article, and if you’re a part of the ‘nail the mix’ scene, I’m glad you’re learning and growing from it. Please note that nothing I’m about to write is meant IN ANY WAY to come off as an attack on you, and I’ll say a second time, that I’m glad you’ve put this video on the floor for discussion.
There’s a lot of things in here I strongly disagree with. The type of mental blueprint which I think is underpinning a lot of this content develops a business model and an artistic framework that I absolutely hate. I won’t fault the speaker here, because it works well for him, but when it comes to a business approach its incongruent with just about everything I hold as a core value. I recognize that there’s no wrong way to make money. But do you get to choose how much you enjoy the experience of getting paid.
First - on a technical and less business level:
At 56:53 when he talks about Top to Bottom (prioritizing) - I disagree with the implication that the automation is lower than instruments on the priority hierarchy. Tony Maserati believes automation is a huge part of what makes a mix a mix. 58:25 he says “people like to focus on the details because details are sexier, cooler, and more fun”. I believe the automation process shouldn’t be dismissed as a mere ‘detail’. To me it is as high of a priority as setting levels… matter of fact IT IS setting levels.
Thoughts on his business/personal approach:
1:04:02 “Misconception: most aspiring mixers think that in order to be an employed mixer you must be available to talk to you clients 25/7/365” I’ve adopted CLA’s approach over the years where you above and beyond to stay connected with your top clients and making myself available whenever I can. At times you have to draw limits of course, but many of my guys (and girls) are respectful of my time and schedule. I haven’t found this to be a problem.
1:04:55 “I gotta go in because the deadline is ‘this’… I don’t play that game because I wised up and got smarter”. No. I’ll play that game. And many times in this business, its only thing that you have left to set you apart from everyone else. With certain clients, under certain circumstances its worth the price you pay to play it. So the trick isn’t HOW you choose not to play the game, its more about prioritizing the clients WHO you play/don’t play the game with.
??? 15 seconds to EQ each channel. Disagree here. Take whatever time you need to feel your way through the EQ process. I understand that he’s training someone to move quickly. 15 seconds may be enough time to apply broad sweeping changes that bring a source under control. It is enough time to hear problems, identify them, and respond to them. But IT IS NOT ENOUGH TIME to evaluate the best solution. He says he wants to get people away from ‘overthinking’. Unless he’s careful about how he implements that 15 second time limit you can develop a very sloppy unrefined sound.
I’m sorry… this guy sounds like he’s from Nashville. I hate the small time big-studio-wanna-be scene in that area, I hate what it does to clients, and I hate the shitty reputation it gives to studios in general. I’ve spent a good part of this entire year cleaning up work and re-doing mixes from Nashville studios who buy into these philosophies because the artists and producers (and sometimes even the labels) all get screwed when they’re handed a mix that was done in 45 minutes by a guy who thinks he’s gonna be the next Bill Decker but isn’t anywhere near as good but tries to pull off a 45 minute mix anyway. From what I’ve experienced lately, certain cliques of producers and the mix engineers have a mentality focused on assembly lining product through a facility with little or no regard for the uniqueness and diversity an artist and producers individual strengths. All the while pretending to actually care about the artists work.
I don’t know the guy in the video, I’ve never worked with him. I have nothing against him personally. My point is that the mentality behind the service model in that circuit makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. What I believe people ought to realize is that the 45 minute workflow that Bill Decker achieves is highly unique to him. To learn from him is wonderful. To screw clients by failing to emulate his workflow is VERY bad, then to justify the results by saying ‘real mixers only need an hour per song’ is downright infuriating.
There’s nothing wrong with adopting some of this content in this video, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE spend MORE time studying the work habits of far more successful mix engineers. You will NEVER see Dave Pensado, Craig Bauer, or Greg Wells tear through a mix in 45 minutes. There’s a reason for that, and it sure as fuck is not because they’re slow. I hope people wise up and stop glorifying this ‘mix a song in an hour’ shit. I think its terrible for the craft.
No worries Jonathan, I posted this because I’ve been mulling through things related since I watched it and was really curious what some of the pros on here such as yourself would think of it. You made that clear.
As for me, I’m currently a painfully slow mixer. I don’t mind because I thoroughly enjoy the process. So I don’t really feel the “need for speed”. I attribute that to me being fairly new to it and I’m still learning my tools, figuring out my go-tos and training my ears.
Having forgotten most of the details since I watched it last however, my biggest and the most resounding takeaway from the video is the idea of developing a template that handles the bulk of the routine repetitive tasks that you have to do on every mix, so you can get to the business of actually mixing quicker.
Haha! Well said!
Yeah this all sounds terrible. All part of the “music as a production line” mentality and speaks as to why most modern pop-music generally sucks, IMHO. It’s not music… it’s product.
It’s an interesting perspective if you just take it as a way to question what you do and how you do it. Shaking the dust off the comfort zone so to speak. Nothing says you should adopt any of his techniques unless you want to. I just listened to the first part yesterday, and it got me thinking about templates again, which I have been meaning to do more with.
He does make some good points about being “organized” (sometimes challenging for creative types) including client interaction (clarity of communication and setting boundaries).
I read comments in this forum on how everyone needs to mix for ear buds, because a large majority of people only listen to music through them. I would personally like to tell everyone to toss out their earbuds and get a real stereo system, but that isn’t going to happen.
Maybe this guys advice is more applicable than what Dave Pensado, Craig Bauer, or Greg Wells have to offer.
Musicians used to have to play at music venues for years before paying their dues and getting a chance to cut an album. Times have changed and visual is often more important than audible, so maybe cutting some corners, which most listeners don’t give a shit about, is the correct approach in today’s cookie cutter music industry.
Just playing devil’s advocate.
Another idea that resonates in support of “mixing faster” is the fatigue factor. I can see a legitimate argument for mixing faster to save on ear fatigue and song fatigue both. That goes back to templates and setup. Get all of the mundane stuff done as quickly as possible before getting to the fun stuff.
Yes! And even more so with mixing engineers too. Unless you were doing your own stuff on a 4-track in the basement, very privileged few had access to a fraction of the gear that is so readily available today thanks to digital technology.
The musical world has been literally turned upside down…
I admit that’s a fair objection. But my question would be what makes Bill Deckers mixing approach anymore applicable? I think there are equally few people who will get to the point where their market and the producers within that market will tolerate a 1 hour mix turnover. I think that sector of Nashville studio market is the minority of music markets, not the majority. I realize he does mixes for people all over the country, but he’s got a fairly decent reputation, and vs bigger name mixers, he’s less than a quarter of their price. His business model is so different than the other 3 that its not really an apples to apples on the application either way… right?
I undestand and largely agree - except for one thing: The artist is one of the listeners, and ultimately the one paying you. If they care about some of those corners, then I feel like its my job to care as well. I had a drummer (and a somewhat well known one at that) complain about the gates I used on a rough mix three weeks ago. I mean… the guy said he hated it and it made the whole song sound stale because of the way the gates disrupted the groove. I thought they were fine. There isn’t a soul on earth that probably would have noticed but since he did, I went back to work and figured out some other way to minimize the bleed.
You’re right… and there’s certainly nothing wrong with being organized. I know I was reading a lot experience into that video that wasn’t necessarily implied. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still annoyed with how Nashville studios have treated some of my friends, but thanks for letting me rant anyway lol.
Price per pound. If I’m getting $40,000 to mix a well known artist’s album vs $800 from some local band (numbers pulled from rear end), it is in my best interest to not spend 20 hours per song. If I can get a suitable product pipelined via efficient methodology, why not ?
What are these price differentials, in dollars, if you don’t mind sharing? I know I have read what some of the big boys charge somewhere but I can’t remember the details.
I think this is a great point. There are numerous levels in any industry, so it isn’t “one size fits all”. A project studio is a very different model than a Dave Pensado caliber or something like that. With record company backing and significant budgets, then customer service and attention to detail become the difference between one big boy and another - which will the client choose? With a project studio / local band budget you’re probably just not going to take things as far … it just wouldn’t be a viable business model.
There’s also the old “production triangle” consideration: Do you want it fast, good, or cheap? Pick two.
I like the whole template approach, and deserve a good whack upside the head for not forcing myself to use it earlier so it would be ingrained by now.
The question I have though, is why is it taking him so long to tell me how to speed up?
- Use templates.
- Don’t overthink
- Turn this off, he’s beating me to a pulp.
Those guys get a lot of independent artists with extraordinarily deep pockets. There’s a big difference between the amount of cash floating around Nashville and Atlanta vs the L.A. Its not all coming from labels.
Teehee - you win, Bob - This cracked me up!
Wow thanks for this. This is actually one of my challenges… “mixing faster” This is a lot of help. cheers!