Should Artists Mix and Master Their Own Music?

by Andre Gonsalves

So to get the obvious out of the way, I’m a mixing and mastering engineer for the last 10 years and so I would obviously say, “yes every artist should pay to get their songs mixed and mastered”.

And not only that, but they should hire us as their go-to mixing and mastering service.

LOL.

However, I am also an artist for the last 27 years (I started making music when I was 13 years old).

So my bias as an artist trumps my bias as an audio engineer.

And so when I was coming up as an artist, I would hear audio engineers say, “Artists shouldn’t mix their music” all the time.

And I always felt like they were wrong because anytime I worked with an audio engineer, they didn’t get me the sound I envisioned.

But now after working as an audio engineer for the last 10 years and mixing and mastering thousands of songs…

It’s clear I was an idiot.

I was in my ego.

And my music sucked.

You see the majority of artists, especially when they’re starting, don’t even know how to make a good song, let alone have their hearing developed to the point where they should even consider mixing their own stuff.

Why?

Well let’s get into it, I’ve put together 3 no-BS reasons why artists shouldn’t mix and master their own music…

You ready?

Bandwidth

When I was a younger artist, I thought I could do everything: record, write, produce, mix and master the whole song.

I was even doing my own cover art as well as shooting and directing the videos.

It was insane.

And it’s only now I realize that while I know how to do all those things, I didn’t develop deep mastery over any of those things.

I’m only good at mixing and mastering because of the experience I have of doing this full-time for a living for the last 10 years.

And my music only got better when I started working with producers, instead of trying to make the beats myself.

So the reason most DIY artists burn themselves out is because they’re spreading themselves too thin and trying to do everything (this is also the reason most people burn themselves out in general).

Even now when I make a song, I can mix it only because I’m able to compartmentalize…in that I treat my song as if its my client’s song.

But if I had this deep attachment to it and let myself get demoitits I would not be able to mix it at all.

And believe me it’s still really tough, which brings me to my second point.

Learning Curve

Honestly it took me 8 years to learn how to mix and master and I’m still learning new things!

And so if you only work on your own music, you’re not going to enough experience to do it adquately.

Why?

It’s just basic math right?

If you drop an album every year and it has 12 songs on it.

For that year you may at most made 30 or 40 full songs.

That experience will get you really good at song making, but will likely burn you out if you attempt to mix all 40 songs yourself.

And so if you compare this to a modern audio engineer, we may work on 40 songs a month.

And so we’re basically doing in a month what you do in a year.

So if you’re an artist that mixes your own stuff it would take 10 to 12 years of dropping an album every year to get really good at it.

Artist or Audio Engineer?

Now this is something I never even thought of until this year and it may be helpful for a lot of you to ask yourself this: Did you start making music to become an artist or to become an audio engineer?

I don’t think the majority of artists started making music so they could become an audio engineer, myself included.

And I’m definitely proof that you can be both, but at what cost?

I had to devote my whole life to music in order to pull this off and I don’t think anyone else should go down this path.

So my humble advice is this…

If you’re an artist continue to make the best music you can and work with the audio engineers and producers that you can afford.

Focus on making the best music you can.

Give it your all.

And most of all never surrender.

Andre is the head audio engineer at ADG Mastering, which he helped found in 2012. For the last 10 years, he has made it his mission to empower aspiring artists and musicians from around the world. You can see more of Andre's writings on our Blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023...UNLOCK ACCESS TO PRIVATE SALE

Sign up for ADG's emails and get 40% off any mixing and mastering package.