Why is it important to professionally mix and master your tracks?

Signing a record deal was once an artist’s best, if not only, hope of getting their music out to fans. Nowadays, it is much easier for independent musicians to deliver their music to major platforms thanks to distributors such as our sister company, Horus Music. Independent musicians are currently making more money from their music than ever before and it looks likely to continue increasing. 

On the surface, this is a great thing. Independent artists can retain full ownership of their music and choose where to deliver their music. However, there are some negatives. For example, how do you get heard above all the noise? According to a tweet from Pigeons and Planes, nearly 40,000 songs are uploaded to Spotify every day. That’s an incredible amount of music! So how do you stand out from this relentless wave of new music? 

There are many answers to this question, but in this blog we are going to focus solely on getting your tracks to sound the best that they can possibly be. This is through the processes of mixing and mastering. 

What is the difference between mixing and mastering? 

Mixing

According to Rory PQ from Icon Collective, “Mixing is the act of combining multiple layers of audio to make one final track”. It is the process of making sure that “all the parts in a song sound good together”. The mixing process can involve: 

  • Balancing levels
  • Panning instrument positions in the stereo field
  • Equalizing
  • Compressing
  • Enhancing harmonics
  • Fixing problematic frequencies
  • Adding effects such as reverb and delay
  • Automation
  • Editing sounds in creative ways

Mastering 

According to izotope, mastering is the process of “taking an audio mix and preparing it for distribution”. There are a number of contributing elements to this process “unifying the sound of a record, maintaining consistency across an album, and preparing the track for distribution”. 

The aim of the mastering process is to balance and enhance particular sonic characteristics. Mastering can involve: 

  • Equalisation 
  • Applying compression 
  • Limiting
  • Stereo enhancement
  • Increasing the perceived volume with minimum side effects to reach commercial loudness

Why is mixing and mastering your tracks so important? 

By mixing and mastering your tracks, you are making sure your music sounds the best that it can on all speakers, platforms, media formats and devices. 

To stand out you simply have to be the best. You have mere seconds to grab the listener’s attention before they skip the song and forget you. If someone starts listening to your track and hears poorly mixed vocals that clip regularly, or cymbals that overpower the other instruments, for example, they’re going to skip your track.

On top of this, you have to remember that your competition is what you hear on the radio. In the world of sync licensing, for example, you are directly competing for the same sync opportunities as your favourite artists. Only one song can be chosen. So make sure you’re on the same level and your music is mixed and mastered professionally. Take your time, save up some money and get them mastered by the best engineer that you can afford, it will be worth it. 

How do you find mixing and mastering engineers?  

  • Attend networking events, they will be there looking for new artists to work with. 
  • A good manager should have connections to music producers, mixing and mastering engineers that they trust and have a previous track record with. 
  • Ask local musicians if they have any recommendations. 
  • The Music Producers Guild
  • Look into who mastered your favourite bands last single and get a quote from them. Remember if they master your track, you’re also getting your music in front of an industry professionals ears- gaining some great exposure. 

How do you know if they’re good?

  • Listen to their previous work. 
  • Ask for testimonials from past clients. 
  • Ask them to send you a “before” and “after” mix, you should be able to hear a big difference. 
  • Ask your own contacts if they have heard of the engineer before, or ask for your contact’s opinion of their previous work. 

It’s vital that your music is on the same level as the music that it will be placed next to it. If you’re featured on the radio, you want your song to stand out because it is extraordinary, not because the mixing and mastering is below par. So, get your tracks mixed and mastered to a professional standard to give yourself the best possible chances of getting noticed. 

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