Should You Be a One-Man Band? The Pros and Cons of Producing and Mastering Your Own Music
We get it: you're the one-man band, and you want to both produce and master your own music tracks. The only problem? You don't know if that's really what you should be doing. Should you be looking for someone else to handle the mastering, or are you just fine cutting out the middle man? Let's jump right in and take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of producing and mastering your own music tracks to decide whether or not it's right for you!
Due to budget cuts, most beginner producers will mix and master their tracks themselves. On the other hand, professional producers usually mix roughly as they work, then leave the sound to mixing and mastering engineers to finish, saving them more time and producing better results.
Why should I even bother learning to produce music if I'm going to outsource it later?
What might happen if I decide to hire someone else to mix and master my music?: If you've never hired someone before, there are some things you should keep in mind when looking for a professional mixer or mastering engineer. First off, make sure they are willing to work with your genre of music. Some engineers specialize in certain genres, while others are more generalists who can handle anything from pop-rock to hip hop. Also, find out what their turnaround times are like—some producers only take on projects where they can deliver quickly (within two weeks), while others may take months, depending on their workloads.
The mixing engineer's main job is to organize and improve all of a song's audio and composition elements. A good engineer can turn an average song into a good song and turn a great song into a timeless classic.
While producers may have all the necessary abilities and resources to mix their own songs, working with an engineer has a few advantages:
- An engineer is the second pair of ears who will most likely pick up on mix flaws or ideas that you won't hear.
- Using a trusted outside engineer will allow you to concentrate on the composition aspect of production, improving your workflow and productivity.
- Mix engineers will almost certainly have access to equipment or techniques that you would otherwise not have.
Is it worth spending time mastering my own tracks if I can have an engineer do it as well?
If you have the resources, time, and knowledge base, you can take on every aspect. If not, find a good engineer who can work with you to get the best results for your songs. It's always nice to be able to master your own tracks—but it is expensive and time-consuming.
However, while overseeing all of these stages is a time-consuming task that demands great effort and focus, you will have complete control of every aspect of your production. Here are a few important factors to keep in mind when mixing and mastering your work.
- Separate the composing, mixing, and mastering steps to give yourself enough energy and focus on handling each job independently. For example, you shouldn't even worry about mixing when you're still unsure about composition and arrangement. Multitasking can cause burnout and stifle your creativity.
- Make sure that your mixing environment is treated for optimum acoustics. Ensure there is very little sound bouncing off the walls or collecting in the corners.
- The mixing station should be in the middle of the room, with the left and right speakers at ear level.
- Use reference tracks and test your mixes in different environments and on different speakers for mixing.
- Compare your master track to other songs to see how loud, clear, and dynamic it is.
- Use LUFs to adjust the volume of your master for each streaming platform, such as Spotify, Youtube, radio, etc.
Compelling reasons why mixing and mastering your own music isn't a good idea.
Yet there are several compelling reasons why mixing and mastering your own music might not be such a great idea after all: This part should talk about some valid arguments against mixing and mastering your own music.
Mixing and mastering your own music can keep you from making new music.
It can hold you back from writing new music, which is counterproductive if you're a producer trying to get your music heard out there and build a solid fan base. This is because every hour you spend on mixing and mastering could be invested in songwriting and arrangement. Fiddling around with one track might be fun and satisfy your perfectionist attitude, but it won't help you consistently put out great music.
If you spend hours upon hours perfecting that one track, then you have no time left to make other tracks; what will happen when artist clients come looking for more?
It takes years of practice to get to the level of top-notch sounding productions.
I've met a few producers who are also accomplished musicians, and they usually argue that mixing and mastering your own music isn't such a bad idea if you know what you're doing. But I think it takes years of practice to get to the level of top-notch sounding productions.
What if you spend all that time, energy, and resources and end up with mediocre or just decent-sounding tracks? Not worth it!
You become too involved in the details of mixing and mastering to even look at the production process as a whole
Most modern music producers have been self-taught, with a core understanding of production but little or no grasp on mixing or mastering. Self-learning your craft usually results in good output at first, but it also means you're flying blind regarding technical limitations and red flags. Many upcoming music producers spend weeks on a single track — cutting, editing, automating — before they realize they need to mix their song down, a painstaking process that adds hours to an already lengthy task list.
Producers can certainly mix and master their own tracks, but whether or not this is a good idea is entirely up to you. You can use the guidelines above to determine whether or not an engineer is necessary for your mixing and mastering processes.
Don't let anyone tell you that you shouldn't mix and master your own music, but also don't believe the myth that "every producer should be able to mix and master their own songs" Both extremes, in my opinion, are incorrect; and you should not be bothered about it. Ultimately, it would be best if you accomplished what will allow you to expand your skillset while simultaneously advancing your career. So go for it and combine the best of both worlds.
Would you like to find out more about mixing your tracks? Discover How To Mix Like An Industry Producer here. You will discover proven step-by-step mixing techniques guaranteed to help you level up!