Are You Still Mixing, Mastering and Producing Your Own Stuff? The Hero Myth Debunked


There’s this idea, particularly in America, that you can do it on your own and that you don’t need any help. I for one have always subscribed to this way of thinking, for instance, I would never ask the government or my parents or even my wife for help (I know I’m betraying my Canadian socialist roots). I like to build things on my own. Heck I built the acoustic panels in my studio and then built a custom walk-in closet for my wife (Like who does that? And you’re welcome sweetie). When my parked car got involved in a hit and run, I didn’t call the police, I tracked down the driver and made him pay (*Batman voice..Christian Bale…Not Ben Affleck*). And this is all because I foolishly subscribed to the Hero myth, because I like many of you like to mythologize and romanticize the people who did it on their own. 

Many of us like to think things like Steve Jobs made the iPhone or Kanye made My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or Drake created the universe. Drake even has a song where he’s like “Came up that’s all me, no help that’s all me”. But the thing is this is complete b.s (and besides I’m sure 40 would have something to say about that).

I bet that hotline ain't blingin' anymore buddy.

I bet that hotline ain’t blingin’ anymore buddy.

In recent years, I’ve noticed this hero myth moving from business and rappers spheres to producers and audio engineers and think it’s incredibly dangerous. Yes you should have confidence to “just do it” but by working in isolation you stunt your growth. When I was younger, I’d go on these audio engineer forums and see these old heads (who look like they’re crypt keepers..I know that day is coming for me) rant and rave about the dumbest stuff. They would come off as bitter and angry about how “x is destroying the music industry” or “how y spells doom for all audio engineers” and I figured out that they’re basically haters because most of them are working by themselves! I promised myself I would (A) never go on message boards especially with people 20 to 30 years older than me and (B) I would work with others.

I’m aware that the internet does bring together all the creative loners in the world and that’s not a bad thing at all. And maybe a bunch of old people complaining about something is healthy for them and helps them bond. And I would consider myself a bit of a creative loner and am definitely on that, “You can do it bruh!” inspirational wave. But I know with absolute certainty that isolation will kill you. I have no proof to back this up, but I can say with 99.9% certainty that the artists that send me songs that they themselves have solely produced, mixed and recorded are absolute trash. And the reason is simple: there was no one to tell them otherwise.


When I think back to all the things I’ve learned about mixing, producing and recording since I was 13 years old, I’m now 34 (approaching the crypt) the biggest breakthroughs have come from working with others. Let me rephrase that THE ONLY BREAKTHROUGHS HAVE COME FROM WORKING WITH OTHERS. I couldn’t afford $20k for audio engineering school but have two close friends that went and learned from them. We mixed albums together, I’ve mixed and mastered my own albums (I can send you a link if you like). I’ve literally worked on over a 1000 songs. I’ve been through the fire and only made it out of the fire because of other people.

I was probably one of the first kids using Fl Studio when it dropped in the late 90s and only learned how to do certain things from watching my producer friends. I definitely believe in googling to find answers, but how do you google what you don’t know? By collaborating and working with others and hoping that serendipity makes a guest appearance. I’m currently mixing this rapper’s album and he sent me a song that features another rapper I recently mixed for. I asked him, “Hey bruh do you know this guy? I just mixed his song.”. And he said, “Yes bruh, I recommended him to you”. Do you know how much better this artist is for working with others? It’s no coincidence he’s also one of the nicest people to work with (not to mention incredibly talented).

This is what you call  a lonely childhood.

This is what you call a lonely childhood.

Find Some Homies

I highly recommend you become friends with people who are doing the exact same thing as you. If you’re a producer, become friends with other producers. If you’re an audio engineer, become friends with other audio engineers. If you’re the lead singer of an 80’s soft rock band become friends with the lead singer of other 80’s soft rock bands. If you make Atlanta trap, become friends with people who make that same brand of Atlanta trap (RIP Shawty Lo). I know in rap, particularly, it’s difficult to become friends with another rapper, but I guarantee if you make that effort you will learn, grow and become more successful.



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.

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