Arts & Entertainment

Why Artists Must Have a Great Mix Engineer

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For the independent musician, sounding good isn’t a luxury only available to major label artists anymore – it is a requirement. Music sales may have diminished, but that doesn’t mean that recorded music is on its way out. Far from it. More music is being consumed on more devices by more listeners than ever before in history! Artists are making their music available on internet and satellite radio, online music streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, and YouTube, selling on direct-to-fan sites such as CD Baby, Bandcamp, and ReverbNation, and still pushing sales through ‘traditional’ online retailers such as iTunes and Amazon MP3. Let’s face it, there is no excuse for an artist to release sub-par recordings.

For many, audio engineers are still conundrum. To others, they are ‘evil’ manipulators of sound, creating fake, auto-tuned, drones out of terrible artists. This, however, is far from the truth. Every record, no matter the type, gets handled by a tracking engineer, mixing engineer, and mastering engineer. The recording engineer utilizes many of microphones and technique to accurately capture and record the artist’s performance as it happens in the recording studio. The mixing engineer takes all of the separate audio tracks and crafts the music to sound great and convey the song’s emotion. He sets proper levels, panning, equalization, compression, and adds creative effects where needed to complement the artist’s vision. Finally, the mastering engineer uses unique equipment and highly trained ears in an acoustically accurate room to subtly polish and prepare the music for final release and ensure the recording translates to a variety of speakers. “While many audio techniques can enhance the final production, we engineers are not magicians and can’t replace a poor performance or terrible recording,” says Scott of Virtual Mix Engineer.

Recorded music is more often used as promotional tool for artists and labels. The most income these days is in touring, publishing, sync placements, and merchandise. When a fan connects with a band’s music, they’ll listen to their records, tweet, and share the music with their friends. The fans want to support the artist and buy tickets to their concerts, purchase t-shirts, and follow and interact with the band through social media. As the group grows in popularity, their music may be chosen for sync placements in film and TV, which not only provides great exposure, it also pays quite well. To make it to this stage however, it all begins with a great song and quality recording.

The rise of do-it-yourself recording has led to more bands releasing music than ever before. With a powerful laptop, some mics, a DAW, and a little knowledge, anyone can record and release music. One area where many artists fall short is failing to recognize their weaknesses in audio engineering. An experienced engineer has the right gear, but most importantly the knowledge to make a production reach its full potential. Though it can be difficult for an artist, letting go and trusting your engineer will take your recordings to the next level and help you stand out from the crowd. Listeners are instantly attracted to a well-written and performed song that sounds like a hit.

Spend a good amount of time in pre-production, ensuring your song and arrangement are as strong as possible. Then and only then, get into the best studio you can afford to record your basic tracks. Hire a local or online mixing engineer within your budget whose work and personality you like, and tweak the mix until you’re satisfied. Lastly, send the songs off to the mastering engineer for that final touch. Once your recording is complete, you can get the music into multiple sites and into the phones and computers of your listeners and fans.Scott Horton is the epitome of today’s modern mixing engineer/producer/songwriter. Scott has mixed for an endless number of artists and labels from around the world in all musical genres ranging from Pop, Pop-Rock, Hip-Hop,RnB, Urban and more. His online mixing and mastering service, Virtual Mix Engineer, delivers musicians with industry standard sounding mixes which make impressions that count. Visit Scott at This article is copyright protected.