Lately I’ve realized the importance of acknowledging the artist’s perspective when getting a mix done. It’s more than mixing a song “The right way”, the taste of the artist has a lot to do with the success of the project.
An important thing to ask them is which band or artist they want to sound like, or “what sound they wanna get”, although it’s a tricky question because many artists have reservations on wanting to sound like someone else, since each one has an individuality no one wants to violate. In this case, always tell them to send you or give you names of songs they feel that appeal to they style. Many may tell you the drums should sound like one band and the bass like this other band, and so on and so forth. The more communication the better.
Another vital aspect of the dialogue is to use technical terms, many artists get a little on the bohemian when explaining what sound they are trying to get on the mix of the song or of a specific instrument and they say things like “oh, I want my guitars to sound round and bluesy” or “Put some shiny effect on my voice”, or a good one “Don’t use Autotune ‘cuz it will ruin the mix”. Things like this may have a meaning in the Sound Engineering world, but it needs to become clear that they have the same meaning in the artist’s mind.
One last thing I consider important too is, never argue with the artist on “how the track should sound”. There have been may attempts in the history of music of creating something different, some have had success, others not so much, but the artist has the last word. The mixing engineer should be able to transform what is in the artist’s mind into sound.
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