If there is one thing I learned on this home studio journey is that mixing the music is probably the hardest part. It really isn’t as easy as I thought it would be say 2-3 years ago when I had no experience.
You can go online an get all the best mixing tips you want but at the end of the day, practice is really what’s going to make you great.
Any time you can get your hands on some sessions files to get your mixing chops up than that is what I recommend.
So what if you don’t have a lot of files to practice on?
Start From What You Know
The cheapest and best alternative is to work on your own music. If you can sing and play an instrument than just record yourself and you can practice on your own songs.
If you don’t know how to produce music than it’s probably a good idea that you start to learn how. The more tricks up your sleeve that you have, than the better off you are in the long run. You are effectively more valuable as an engineer as well.
Another benefit to recording and mixing your own music is that you can literally make it whenever you want, you have the ability to only work on music that you like, plus you have complete control over the quality. No one is going to bug you and tell you what you are doing is wrong.
Make Some Friends and Ask Around
Well for starters, try and ask around. You’d be surprised at just how many artists and bands are looking for legitimate engineers (find out how to find them) to make their stuff sound great. A cool way to do this, to preserve your value as an engineer, is to tell them that you will do their first mix at no charge. So there is no risk or obligation to them. If they like your work then you can work out a deal to work on some more music.
Another bonus is that even if the band or artist doesn’t want you to work on future projects, at least you have something now that you can put on your resume.
The goal really is to keep building a resume so that we engineers can have something to use as a way to demonstrate value and justify charging a certain fee. The more tracks you mix than the bigger your resume.
Get Multitrack Session Files With a Push of a Button
Another alternative is to download multitrack session files so you don’t have to pimp out your services for free. Does it suck that you have to spend the money on the files to get practice? Yes, but it’s not as expensive as you might think and it’s all relative. You could easily spend $100 or less and have a VERY high quality demo reel to show new clients. If you only get one client, you just made your money back and made some profits too.
Firstly, you should check out ModernMixing.com and browse through their multitrack library. The fees for the sessions files are VERY reasonable; we’re talking like $20 per session or something like that. You get a full professional production and recording for only $20. DAMN!!! So you could either spend hours recording your own music, weeks looking for someone to mix for OR…. you could just buy them from that site and be done with it. I don’t know about you but my time is valuable to me, I would rather just buy the files. That being said, if you enjoy recording I would encourage you yo go ahead and do that.
Think of it this way, you can spend maybe 2-4 weeks looking for some average songs (at best) from 5 different artists/bands or you could spend $100 and get 5 really good songs from 5 unique artists. You could mix those songs and then have something to show potential paying clients, almost immediately. To me it’s a no brainer but I will let you decide.
Remember you are probably spending thousands of dollars on your gear but if you don’t have great songs to show clients than what’s the point? The cost of the multitracks pales in comparison to what you would spend on the gear.
Go Forth And Practice
So you already know my stance, the practice if ultimately going to be the number one thing that helps you increase your skills.
Watch the tutorials, and read the blogs because you can really get a hold of some actionable information but do yourself a favour and get some high quality records so you can get the experience.