When you buy a car or a t-shirt or hire a plumber how do you know that business is going to provide a good service? Usually, we asks friends or read reviews. When hiring an audio engineer online it’s a little different but I’m going to give you some insight on what to look for and what to avoid.
Pay Attention to the Details
Being a good audio engineer is all about having an eye (or ear) for the smallest details. So to determine how detail oriented a business is just look at their website. Do they have spelling mistakes on their page? Is there sentences even coherent? Do they even have a clean and modern looking web page? These things may sound trivial but usually if care is put into the packaging and presentation then care is put into the product and service.
Don’t Ask for a Free Sample
When it comes to hiring an audio engineer I wouldn’t recommend asking for a free sample (Unless they offer one), especially for song mixing as it’s much more time consuming. What should you do? From a long term perspective, it’s probably better to pay the audio engineer’s full rate to get an idea of their quality and service. If you don’t like working with them you can choose to go with someone else for your next song but if you did enjoy working with them than you’ve saved yourself a ton of headache for life (cause you’ve found someone reliable that can mix and master all your songs). Think of it like this: you may have lost $100 working with a bad audio engineer but you also saved thousands because you didn’t work with them again.
My Mama’s Business Advice
Also asking for a discount on your first song is disrespectful and tells the audio engineer you are not serious (and I’m not just saying that cause I am an audio engineer). In fact, I would say if you’re working with anyone in the music industry like video directors, graphic designers, photographers and models, you should pay what they ask for when working with them for the first time. It’s only after working with them a few times should you consider asking for a discount (most artists providing services to artists charge fair prices otherwise they wouldn’t be in business very long).
What’s their Track Record?
How long have they been in business? You want to work with audio engineers that have been doing it full time for at least 3 to 5 years. You can get an idea of how long they’ve been in business by going to their blog and go back to their very first post and check the date. Alternatively, you can also check their Facebook page and look for the date the business was established by going to the “About” tab. Now if they don’t have a blog or Facebook you probably don’t want to work with them because they are so out of touch with what’s going on, they’ll probably mess up your song.
Listen To Their Previous Work
It’s good to listen to the mixes and masters an audio engineer has done in the past but I would keep in mind that those are not your songs. Meaning, the way those songs were recorded and produced maybe completely different from the way you record.
You can tell a lot about a business by just emailing them. How long do they take to respond? Do they fully answer your question? Do they provide alternative solutions? Basically, do they sound like they care? When you go to Walmart and ask an employee where something is, they sound completely disinterested as if you’re interupting them, but when you go to Whole Foods and ask for where something is the employee will go out of his way to bring you to the right aisle and even provide you with more helpful tips, sure this may cost more but who would you rather work with on your music? The bottom of the barrel or the cream of the crop?
Your turn: Let me know in the comment section what you look for when working with an audio engineer?