Author Topic: What I learned making commercial mixes  (Read 2253 times)


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What I learned making commercial mixes
« on: October 14, 2016, 11:48:01 pm »
I'm going to keep this brief(ish).

So arguably the biggest question producers have when they're learning is "How do I sound like ___ ?" or "How do I make my music sound professional?"

It's like the holy grail of every producer trying to make it and what I now realize was a trap I forced myself into for the last 7 or 8 years. I'm sure we can all relate to spending countless hours reading and watching tutorials only to be bummed out after realizing the track you're working on still doesn't measure up. Eventually I felt like a dog chasing my own tail, growing more and more frustrated with mixes and slowly falling out of love with why I started making music in the first place.

Basically this all leads to early this year, when I finally "broke through" sonically. I felt a huge weight lifted and became painfully aware of how misguided my efforts had been. I listen to all of the artists I obsessed over and no longer have a desire to sound like them. Perfectionism is a huge waste of time. All of the surgical eq cuts I'd do took away everything that gave my songs life. The biggest key that I've learned-and something that ALWAYS gets overlooked by producers-is this

Songwriting is everything

Literally everything.

If the songwriting is inspired and strong, everything else always falls into place. Good songs are still good if the production sucks. When you have a good song, you don't ask "Does this need a pluck?" or "How should I fill out the percussion?" The transitions are already naturally seamless. You don't have to force an anemic intro or outro. It all just works. That one tom hit you battle over keeping in or not? Yeah, your listeners wouldn't even question if you removed the drums entirely. The "perfect" version you have in your head doesn't exist. Whatever you release, no matter what's missing, is the perfect version of that song. 

In fact, now that I know how to make pro mix, I find them increasingly boring. Loud, sloppy and over-distorted sound more genuine and desirable to me now. Music is just an emotional expression, and I've learned from my experience that it's not nice. Songwriting is a function of trying to make sense of your life and experiences through audio. Many of those experiences aren't clean; they're not fun. Life is messy. Let the emotion of the song come through. If it doesn't wind up sounding like one of the top 40 producers you look up to it has a better chance of finding an audience anyway. Get your levels right, master it and don't look back.

Now, I'm not here to denounce technique or mastery of engineering, but the truth is those skills will come in time. Understand fundamentally how each of your tools work and find your own way of using them. No truly great songwriter had success escape them because their mix wasn't good enough.

That's all I got for you.

Marrow Machines

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Re: What I learned making commercial mixes
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2016, 03:17:56 am »
I fucking love you.

Huge Big Up.
Josh Huval: Honestly, the guys who are making good art are spending their time making it.


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Re: What I learned making commercial mixes
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2016, 06:14:17 am »
This is well observed, and very true.  Good job to think of writing it down.


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Re: What I learned making commercial mixes
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2016, 05:08:44 pm »
This post needs to be resurrected. I had an epiphany similar to this last week. For the last few years I struggled completing projects because I didn't have a solid vision for my songs. I would also add that it is really important to learn more about yourself and your creative process and try to have an efficient system down for you to continue driving towards track completion. It will only make getting your ideas out easier and faster!