Do a search for “Online Mixing Service” and you will likely be overwhelmed by the number of results. The number has grown substantially in the last couple of years, making it harder and harder for artists and producers to decide who to trust with their music. The landscape is littered with sites offering to “mix and master” your song for seemingly insane deals. “Basic mix, $50! Mastering included free with every mix!” Sure, these sound like great deals. But are they?
Full disclosure: most likely if you do that search, my site will appear close to the top. But rather than simply suggesting that you go directly there for your mixing needs, I would like to try and help you determine what’s best for you and your music.
So what do you look for when you visit an online mixing site? They all look so flashy and professional, with glossy pictures of big recording studios, huge consoles and expensive looking hardware, it’s hard to determine what’s real and what is smoke and mirrors. The trick is to know what to look for.
There are several factors you need to identify when choosing an online mixing service. But the top three, in my opinion, are Pricing, Credits, and Mix Examples. Let’s take a look at those three factors:
Now, you might think I am going to tell you to look for the best deal out there, the rock bottom price. That would be easy, right? You could stop reading this right now, find the cheapest option available, and still have enough left over for that new microphone or plugin you’ve been eyeing…
Well, not exactly. Remember, as with most things in life, when it comes to mixing, you always get what you pay for.
I’m reminded of a quote from the movie Armageddon, right before they blast off into space: “You know we’re sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts, built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?”
Now of course mixing a record isn’t a life or death situation, at least not in the physical sense. But by the time you get to the mix phase, you have most likely put a lot of time, effort and money into your music. Do you really want to trust the mix to the lowest bidder?
Of course budgets are always an issue, especially in today’s music business. But if you come across an online mixing site that is offering to mix your song for $50, even $100, chances are the people behind it are less experienced, so you have to go into it with your eyes wide open, and manage your expectations.
Music is an incredibly difficult business. Only the best survive. Getting in the studio with platinum selling artists, or working on GRAMMY winning albums, or having gold and platinum records to your name, are all very difficult things to do. So it is important to check out an online mix engineer’s credits. Because if they are credited on big albums, most likely they have a lot of experience. And this is experience that they can put to good use on your mix.
Now here’s the thing: just because an online mixing service boasts big-name credits doesn’t guarantee that they have the talent to make your mix sound fantastic. And conversely, a mix engineer without big credits isn’t necessarily a slouch. After all, everyone has to start somewhere. But it is a good barometer of where they are in their career, and how much experience they bring to the table.
Because of this, the most important thing to pay attention to is …
This is probably the most important thing you can research when shopping for an online mixing service. First and foremost, if the site doesn’t provide examples of their work, you need to run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction. Finished mixes are a mix engineer’s final product, his calling card. If an online mixing service isn’t proud of their work, proud enough to display it for the world to hear, chances are it’s not worth listening to.
This is the best opportunity you will have to preview what an online mix engineer can do for your music. Take a listen to anything they have to offer, and compare it to other released songs. Also, compare the mixes to your song and your rough mix.
So, where do I go from here?
There are hundreds, if not thousands of online mixing websites out there. While there are definitely some very qualified and experienced engineers offering mixing services online, unfortunately a lot of the online mixing websites are either stretching the truth, or flat out lying about their credentials and ability to deliver a quality final product.
Some engineers might not like this post. But I felt it important to offer the truth, and a little guidance to musicians, artists and producers who are considering spending their hard-earned money to get their music mixed to the highest possible level. I feel it’s only fair for you to be well informed so you can make the right decision. And if I can help someone save some money in the process, all the better.