There comes a point where every mixer comes to a crossroad – better yet a coming of age – where it’s time to start charging for their service. Once we put a price on our work we immediately command value that never existed before and even though we are now being paid, our intent is no different than when we were working for free – to deliver the best mix possible. But sometimes we can lose sight of why we started to mix music in the first place.
When we mix music for free we usually tend to be picky with the type of records we work on because if we are going to spend countless hours on a record we mine as well enjoy it. Plus it looks good for our mixing portfolio.
But once we get a little bit of money from our craft it can sometimes be easy to take on a new gig for the wrong reasons.
How many times have you taken a gig just for the money regardless of what the song sounded like?
I’m pretty sure most people have more than once. It’s not a bad thing and we have all been down that road. We are human and we can’t like everything. Even I, who likes pretty much every musical genre under the sun, still can’t listen to all music.
But maybe we can adjust our thinking a little bit so that we can still make a living but also be part of the kind of music that resonates with us musically.
As we grow and develop we begin to acquire our own taste on how we think music should sound. Often times that ideal will mesh well with those we work with and other times it doesn’t.
The worst thing we can do to ourselves is continue to work day in and day out on music that we just don’t connect with. It’s like killing ourselves musically, one day at a time.
Here is a little test you can do to see if you should take the gig or not. Listen to the record that is in need of mixing and then ask yourself:
“Would I be proud to show this record to a prospective client?”
If the answer is no, then maybe you should re think whether or not that particular job is for you.
“But it’s been a week without work, I need this gig!”
Yes I understand. Well maybe we can compromise a bit.
So we have already established that you won’t be using that record to show to prospective clients but it is work and you are in the service industry so you must serve.
Maybe try something like this. For every record that you take on that you wouldn’t want anyone to know you mixed, you need to mix one that you would want the world to know about it. That means mixing it for free or at an extreme discount to secure the gig.
“But aren’t we devaluing our service?”
Not exactly. If the records that keep coming to you are the kind you aren’t proud to talk about than those will probably be the same records you keep getting to mix.
We are in this game for the long haul, not the quick few hundred bucks we might make. If we work on enough material that actually stands a fighting chance in the music game eventually the talented artists/producers will seek you out for your quality of work.
Remember a Great record with a good mix will sound far better than a bad record with a Great mix.
Remember that we aren’t in it just for the money even though it is great. I mean who doesn’t like making money from something they are passionate about?
But more than that, the feeling of mixing a great record and knowing that you helped improve the song to touch the listener; that is much more rewarding. That is ultimately the objective of our job, to better help relay the message to the listener.
So feed your soul and find those projects that give you that feeling and mix them for FREE if you have to.
If you have to take on the work because you need the paycheck, then use your skills and get the job done. But just remember why you got into this field and try not to lose that focus.
Move closer to your goal one day at a time and before you know it the records you love mixing will find their way to you.