Monday, October 28, 2013


Coming from Kawan Prather, a 20+ year A&R Rep/Executive Producer/Producer/Writer who is responsible for the success of GooDie Mob, Outkast, Pink, Usher, Youngbloodz, Killer Mike, John Legend, Yelawolf, Mario, Omarion, Bow Wow, TLC, Toni Braxton, and most recently working with Trinidad James. This is his take on indie artists trying to get on without professional mixing.

"First off, the quality of the mix is going to depend on what went on before it got mixed. Obviously the audio quality of the recording for the beat and the vocals are going to be a major factor. Bad or weak sounds aren't going to "magically" be made heavy hitting and great. Sloppy performances, off time overdubs and bad delivery aren't going to end up amazing.

Needless to say, at no time should your beat or vocals have ever been a MP3 and up-sampled to 24/44.1 or whatever. Rapping over an MP3 is a sure fire way to get garbage in the end, and I see guys do it ALL THE TIME!

Also, make sure that the beat isn't clipping all over the place. Most producers, YES, including the ones on Facebook, Twitter, SoundClick, and Sound Cloud know NOTHING about mixing. So they give you beats turned up so loud, they can't be fixed by ANYONE!

Secondly, you need to provide the mixer with the individual tracks, NOT a mix-down of the beat. Individual tracks means the kick is one audio file, the snare is another, and so on--give the mixer all of the elements broken up (but in sync when lined up in a DAW).

Do not expect a great mix unless you have both quality and the individual tracks for the engineer. If you cannot provide those things, then forget about it for now--work with producers/beat writers that will give you the individual tracks in a .wav format (24 bit/44.1 or greater) or any other professional standard.

Okay, let's recap what you have to provide:
1.) Audio quality on the beat and vocal recordings
2.) Individual MONO tracked out WAV FILES
3.) No MP3's

Okay, now that you've done your job this is what you should expect from a professional mixer. First listen to some tracks they've done. Expect to pay more money for people that are actually good. Ballpark figure around $50-$100 an hour or so, although most people give discounts for buying blocks of time. The guys that are cheaper are usually not worth it. You get what you pay for.

The other thing to remember is a PERSON is going to mix this. Don't be as focused on where you're going to get the mix, in other words, the studio. If you "shop a studio" without securing WHO is going to be doing the work you could end up at a great studio that's worked with all these big names and have your track mixed by a novice engineer that had nothing to do with those big artists. This happens all the time so FOCUS ON THE ENGINEER who is going to be, talk to them... they are the one that ultimately is going to make the track sound good or not so good.

Don't get hung up on the tools either. ProTools, Cubase, Sonar... whatever... these are just tools. IT IS A COMPLETE MYTH THAT A PRO-TOOLS IS "INDUSTRY STANDARD!!" The songs you have on your playlists were not all mixed in Pro-tools, and there is no way even the most trained ear can tell which ones were and which ones weren't! It's the person behind the tools that is going to make the difference. Find the right guy and let them worry about the platform, the tools and so forth. That's what they get paid for.

Like I've been saying, it's all about the engineer's skill and taste. That's what mixes a record. As far as the time factor goes if you want to do it right you're going to tackle one song a day. Expect 4-8 hours of work PER TRACK for the mix. You want the best right? This is about the minimum time to get something really hopping. An experienced engineer working on a hip hop track should be able to easily manage a song a day. Anybody that is going to take weeks of time is definitely someone without much experience and is still "messin' around" with audio. Find a pro that eats, sleeps and breaths audio... they'll knock your project out in no time!

When everything is mixed have the whole bundle of songs mastered. Do it on a different day when everyone's ears are fresh. The reason most dudes sound local is because they got a MP3 beat off the internet, spit some stuff they made up five minutes beforehand into the mic and keep the first or second take, throw some random adlibs up behind it and give someone less than an hour to mix and master it. That's the local sound. What I'm suggesting is that you just do the opposite of the local dudes... and you'll be amazed... you'll sound a lot more like the "big boys" just by following this advice."

No comments:

Post a Comment