I came to the realization over this last week that I’m gonna have to get a lot better at mixing than I am right now if I really want to build this studio up as a regional competitor.
I’m trying to figure out what to do about it.
I’ve started loosing important clients because I can’t compete with the Nashville and Atlanta circuit on speed and turnover needed to keep smaller labels and managers happy. It’s purely and simply a time management and mixing chops thing. At my level, there’s absolutely no blaming this on gear or quality of the tracks. There’s really zero excuses for it at my level. And I’m also realizing that if I’m having a hard time keeping up with this just in music, I’m gonna get killed at the next level of audio post production before I even get this new company and new building off the ground.
It’s not DAW/operator speed holding me back. Its not workflow or anything with technical either. I can match the sound quality coming from a lot of other studios, but it’s taking too long to get a fully competitive track from the recording through the mixing stage into the mastering stage in two or three days. Why? I have to keep going back and changing things to get them sounding good enough.
What’s taking me a ridiculous amount of time is not having a good enough sense of how to process certain sounds in ways that don’t require hours of restructuring later on in the mix. When you hear the raw bass track…or a raw vocal track…its about knowing what you need to do to something to get it to the end result with a minimal amount of frequency maneuvering and FX processing. Then being able to say OK…this vocal is fine…what does this track need next?
Tutorials are not the answer. Neither are ‘mix courses’. And training videos. The problem is that they don’t address the hear it/fix it process in a way that teaches you to know when a vocal is really working. Or a guitar stack is really sitting adequately to where you can move on. This is part an experience thing, part an intuition thing, but its also a learned processes that I don’t have have access to learning where I’m at in South Carolina.
You’d say practice more. Right? Its easy to pull up a track and mix it for practice. I have hundreds of tracks available to practice on. But I don’t know how much freely mixing in the safety of your own expectations will prepare you for the ridiculous amount of pressure of a high-stakes mix. And for the unfamiliarity of being handed a session from a respected tracking facility. Everything changes as you move from mixing local bands into regional acts and that have managers, agents, marketing teams and investors get involved. It puts a level of pressure on you that I haven’t had to deal with before.
I’ll figure out a way though this. What’s the say…what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? We’ll get there.