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Question about pro-mixing....the bizniz angle Channel Strips
Old 15th October 2003
  #1
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Question about pro-mixing....the bizniz angle

A question to the pro mixers......guys......how does it work?......do you charge by the hour?.....the day?......the mix?....

....if you do a mix a day, do you wrap it up next morning?...

...what if the client can't be reached to approve the mix and you need to start on the next one (and you're mixing analogue?)....

...do people pay upfront?....50/50?.......

.....what do you do if people complain about you changing their sounds in any way?......

.....what do you do if the artist loves the mix and the producer hates it?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've just done my first mix for cold cash and i'm not sure i wanna do mixing now!....mastering is s-o-o-o-o much easier....i don't mean actually doing it, i mean dealing with the bone-heads involved......!.........any sage words of advice?
Old 16th October 2003
  #2
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Re: Question about pro-mixing....the bizniz angle

Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II
A question to the pro mixers......guys......how does it work?......do you charge by the hour?.....the day?......the mix?....

....if you do a mix a day, do you wrap it up next morning?...

...what if the client can't be reached to approve the mix and you need to start on the next one (and you're mixing analogue?)....

...do people pay upfront?....50/50?.......

.....what do you do if people complain about you changing their sounds in any way?......

.....what do you do if the artist loves the mix and the producer hates it?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've just done my first mix for cold cash and i'm not sure i wanna do mixing now!....mastering is s-o-o-o-o much easier....i don't mean actually doing it, i mean dealing with the bone-heads involved......!.........any sage words of advice?
The answers to your questions pretty much rely on your clout, i.e. how in demand you are. Most of the big mixer dudes charge by the mix, that way they can get more than one done in a day. If you're one of the top guys like the Lord Alge's you can really run the show. If the clients can't show up to approve the mix, print it and move on. Just make sure your assistant takes good recall notes. Most guys charge half their fee for recalls whether the client was there or not. Paying upfront or 50/50 is common. I charge 100% upfront for indies and 50/50 or just get a PO for majors.

As far as changing people's sounds there's two way to approach it. The nice way is a calm explanation of how or why it interferes with the vocal or some other important aspect of the mix. The bitter way is "well if the buttnut who recorded it had done his job I wouldn't have to dick with it so much." It's all about diplomacy and you'll have to decide which path to follow. Which leads us right to your last question as to artist and producer, and even more importantly sometimes the label. Pleasing everyone is the hardest part of mixing I think. It's just not possible everytime out. And here again your diplomacy skills will go a long way until you're a huge successful mixer and no one questions your wisdom

Rob
Old 17th October 2003
  #3
Re: Question about pro-mixing....the bizniz angle

Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II
A question to the pro mixers......guys......how does it work?......do you charge by the hour?.....the day?......the mix?....

....if you do a mix a day, do you wrap it up next morning?...

...what if the client can't be reached to approve the mix and you need to start on the next one (and you're mixing analogue?)....

...do people pay upfront?....50/50?.......

.....what do you do if people complain about you changing their sounds in any way?......

.....what do you do if the artist loves the mix and the producer hates it?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've just done my first mix for cold cash and i'm not sure i wanna do mixing now!....mastering is s-o-o-o-o much easier....i don't mean actually doing it, i mean dealing with the bone-heads involved......!.........any sage words of advice?

How much to charge?

It all depends on the client and budget.

I prefer to spend a day and half on a mix.

Client can't be reached? That's what automation or total recall is for. Also a lot of clients are auditioning mixes these days(especially the record execs) through MP3's.

I always take some kinda deposit upfront(if its an independent project). If its through a label, i let my ent. lawyer handle the negotiations.

I've also done mixes on spec(usually half the mix to let an unknown client know what is possible by me). If they like it, they have no problem paying the fees.

If you get hired to mix, most of the time the client knows that you will modify the sound somewhat.

I don't replace samples at all these days(or tey not to that is).

If the client likes it and the producer hates it(its usually the other way around by the way) then I do another mix that the producer is happy with.

Remember its not about you.

At the end of the day they have to live with it, so you do what it takes to make them happy.

Words of advice?

Read the above.
Old 17th October 2003
  #4
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Re: Question about pro-mixing....the bizniz angle

A question to the pro mixers......guys......how does it work?......do you charge by the hour?.....the day?......the mix?....

Per mix.

....if you do a mix a day, do you wrap it up next morning?...


I arrive at my studio at 11am to answer phone calls. I begin mixing at noon. By 6pm I am done and the band has 2hrs to tell me any suggestions.

...what if the client can't be reached to approve the mix and you need to start on the next one (and you're mixing analogue?)....

Recall sheets come in handy.

...do people pay upfront?....50/50?.......

The label pays...sometimes it takes 2 months to get paid from them.

.....what do you do if people complain about you changing their sounds in any way?......

They shouldn't have come to me in the first place.


.....what do you do if the artist loves the mix and the producer hates it?


I let the A&R decide.
Old 17th October 2003
  #5
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Ditto what Robo said, except for the show up at 11am thing.

It's a hard, truthful, painful pill for a lot to swallow.
Old 17th October 2003
  #6
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Thanks for the replies....

.....i'm interested in this recall business......

......to my mind this is how it should work:

On the mix-day, they come over around 6pm to have their input and/or they receive a version to check out by MP3 or whatever........then they make some suggestions/requests.....the next morning (early) you finish up and make the final versions/stems...then do something else......but what if at 5pm the rapper (who has been AWOL up to now) suddenly requests some change to the mix.......so now you gotta do a recall, send more MP3's, make new final versions and more stems...this could be 4/5 hours work....are you now gonna charge 1/2 the mix again?....

But what if it's an indie (who's already paid 100% up front) and they don't want to pay up any more.......i'm a bit wary of cash up-front jobs, 'cause this gives them a chance to spring xtra stuff on you later - then you feel petty asking for more money - or not?!




And what about file delivery?


Do you insist on receiving the files (at least) the day before you mix?.......ok, great in theory......but what if they have a problem: "blah blah blah but we promise you'll have the files by 9am on the day of the mix!"......so on the mix-day, they only turn at 4pm.....do you now charge them an extra day?....but what if you're charging per mix?...how does it work?

Sorry for buggin' ya!
Old 17th October 2003
  #7
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Re: Question about pro-mixing....the bizniz angle

Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II
A question to the pro mixers......guys......how does it work?......do you charge by the hour?.....the day?......the mix?....
would depend if what other interest I have in the project ... often spec deal based but I have a day rate that I try to respect. A mix usually takes a day. corrections / changes made in the week to follow ...

Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II

....if you do a mix a day, do you wrap it up next morning?...
never or it has to be that urgent. I prefer to let it rest at least 2
days ... listen to it in different environments (home stereo / car / club etc etc ... )


Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II

...what if the client can't be reached to approve the mix and you need to start on the next one (and you're mixing analogue?)....

I mix in ProTools so most of it is total recall, outboard has either the possibility for settings to be saved (total recall too) or I take pictures with a digital cam and save those with the session folders, often there's a text document in the session note pad

Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II

...do people pay upfront?....50/50?.......
most people I work with I trust ... first time clients don't get to take out anything untill they pay. Some bad experiences in the past force me to apply that very simple rule. I hate it but people seem to accept it as long as you tell them why upfront to avoid discussion.
Old 17th October 2003
  #8
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II
On the mix-day, they come over around 6pm to have their input and/or they receive a version to check out by MP3 or whatever........then they make some suggestions/requests.....the next morning (early) you finish up and make the final versions/stems...then do something else......but what if at 5pm the rapper (who has been AWOL up to now) suddenly requests some change to the mix.......so now you gotta do a recall, send more MP3's, make new final versions and more stems...this could be 4/5 hours work....are you now gonna charge 1/2 the mix again?....
in this specific case yes, I would charge more ... but often I find myself involved in spec deals so then this type of situations gets more complicated then that.

Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II

But what if it's an indie (who's already paid 100% up front) and they don't want to pay up any more.......i'm a bit wary of cash up-front jobs, 'cause this gives them a chance to spring xtra stuff on you later - then you feel petty asking for more money - or not?!
Indies or majors or private money ... all the same. Get the business end clear and straight before you start the job. Usually it's a good thing to have at least an idea of what you are going to have to do. There is a difference between mixing a 24 track song and a 72 track one. so I presume that before you give them a quote on how much it is going to cost you have formed yourself an idea of how long it's going to take you to get the job done. In pure client based stuff (no spec deals involved ...) I usually calculate an extra half a day for corrections. that is half a day from the point the corrections actually start ... recalling is ofcourse on my expense but that rarely takes up more then 30 minutes to an hour at the most. From that point on they know they have like 4 hours to get it done and I will point that out if it gets out of hand. I rarely found myself in situations where I had to insist ...

Another thing is that I'll try to plan corrections at the end of a day ... with nothing else after that ... so if it runs late (after midnight or so) I don't need to worry about the next client coming in. And I'm not the typoe that watches the clock every 15 minutes so ...

And what about file delivery?

Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II

Do you insist on receiving the files (at least) the day before you mix?.......ok, great in theory......but what if they have a problem: "blah blah blah but we promise you'll have the files by 9am on the day of the mix!"......so on the mix-day, they only turn at 4pm.....do you now charge them an extra day?....but what if you're charging per mix?...how does it work?
yes it is great in theory and here again the same rule applies ... if everything is clear upfront there shouldn't be any worries. If the studio was booked for a specific day and through human error or neglect that day gets lost the reason has to be pretty solid for me not to charge an extra day. In the worst case I charged for the mix and they (the clients) will have to wait for the next convenient day for me to do it. In which case the importance of the client and the product will definately be a very determining factor in how flexible I am. Maybe this sounds arrogant but I've found it the only way to determine who is professional and who isn't ... as in who is wasting your time and who isn't.

You said it ... everything is great in theory and the real world is often galaxys away from that ... but one has to start with clear and honest agreements upfront. The initial meeting where everything is determined and everyones role / task is layed out is essential and off enormous importance. I don't like those meetings because it forces me to say things I don't like to say ... but better said upfront then an ulser worrying about them afterwards.
Old 19th October 2003
  #9
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Ok, chaps.....does anyone make the customer sign something on paper when the mix is arranged?......how do you make clear to the customer the way you expect it to gwarn?...

...the thing is, i'm starting to get a few calls to mix hiphop stuff......but i find these people a nightmare to work with.......everytime i've done a rap mix, they've wanted to change something with the vocals (not a mix issue, actually change the vox) after i've finished the mix......it's a nightmare!...but i like mixing rap!

An example of what it's like to work with rap guys:

Last thursday i was mastering a hiphop album....

the rapper: ... "Can you make only the claps louder?"

Me: ... "No, that's not possible, because we're only working with the stereo mix....it's not possible to do something like that"

the rapper: ... "Oh"




pause




the rapper: ... "yeah, but is it possible to make the claps louder?"

Aaaaaarrrrrrhhh!!!!!!!!
Old 19th October 2003
  #10
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cebolao's Avatar
 

the same story... mixing rap, mix done already, and they want to change the lyrics. i say - no problem. i mix in protools with ksp-8, just record some new tracks, pass it thru the same effects, maybe tweak a little, and the mix is ready.
Old 19th October 2003
  #11
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I'm mixing with a lot of analogue gear........recalls are not so easy.......lots of bussing and subtle **** going on....recalls never come back quite the same
Old 19th October 2003
  #12
Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II
Ok, chaps.....does anyone make the customer sign something on paper when the mix is arranged?......how do you make clear to the customer the way you expect it to gwarn?...

...the thing is, i'm starting to get a few calls to mix hiphop stuff......but i find these people a nightmare to work with.......everytime i've done a rap mix, they've wanted to change something with the vocals (not a mix issue, actually change the vox) after i've finished the mix......it's a nightmare!...but i like mixing rap!

An example of what it's like to work with rap guys:

Last thursday i was mastering a hiphop album....

the rapper: ... "Can you make only the claps louder?"

Me: ... "No, that's not possible, because we're only working with the stereo mix....it's not possible to do something like that"

the rapper: ... "Oh"




pause




the rapper: ... "yeah, but is it possible to make the claps louder?"

Aaaaaarrrrrrhhh!!!!!!!!

Me personally, I try to come to some kinda of agreement between me and the client on what's actually mixing and what's fixin(auto tuning and such).

If there is auto tuning involved I normally recommend a friend(PT engineer) to the client to have that taken care of in advance.

That slows down the mixing process.grudge

When mixing, i just want to focus on what has to be mixed.

If the vocals need to be done over(problems in the tracking like distortion and clipping), I charge them extra to re-track it. I much prefer to have a great retracked lead to work with then a ****ty vocal take.

In your case, if i were mastering the project and they wanted to make mix decisions there I would probably just offer them to mix it over. That way you can do any balancing things over. If they don't like that idea, then they have to live with what's there.

For recalls with analog gear, your best bet is to retrack all of your analog settings. That way when you have to recall the mix all of the processing will be there. I've been working like this for years and it works well.

Only problem is the track counts get pretty high.

On a standard mix I will easily go over 128 tracks, sometimes I am pushing 192.
Old 20th October 2003
  #13
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So you track 128 tracks and up back into the box?......how?
Old 20th October 2003
  #14
Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II
So you track 128 tracks and up back into the box?......how?
PT HD.

I don't track them all at the same time though.
Old 21st October 2003
  #15
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jazzius's Avatar
 

So i guess you need to do it in 4 passes or more.......does this mean a lot of re-patching or are you doing via the ssl busses?.......ever made a mistake?...
heh
Old 21st October 2003
  #16
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How do you deal with bussing stuff?........say you want to put a compressor over the instrumental, then drop the vox on top.......do you do this as a second mini - {analogue} - mix coming back-out of protools (for the second time).....?

Anyway, this is the way to go (i think).....mix analogue, track back in.....total recall.......fat (and unique) sound........what am i missing?
Old 21st October 2003
  #17
Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II
How do you deal with bussing stuff?........say you want to put a compressor over the instrumental, then drop the vox on top.......do you do this as a second mini - {analogue} - mix coming back-out of protools (for the second time).....?

Anyway, this is the way to go (i think).....mix analogue, track back in.....total recall.......fat (and unique) sound........what am i missing?
These days I work in one of 3 ways:

1) PT to an SSL9000 or console(analog or digital)

2)PT summed on a D2BLT or SBM2 or both

3) In PT itself

If I am using my own rig or an HD system I track everything(mults,processing,efx) back into the system. This way i can recall a mix anywhere at any time.

If i wanted to do your example, then I would either use the extra busses on a 9000 or create extra sends in PT and process that(with the D2BLT). Some automation would be involved to balance it.

Have I ever *****ed this up?

Yeah, but nowadays I check everything before it goes out. Also I am using a lot of my own outboard so its setup in certain "chains".
Old 21st October 2003
  #18
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Henrik's Avatar
 

Very interesting thread.
I have a question: When you play a mix (or send an mp3 as someone said) to the client/producer/A&R person, do you ever use some quick and dirty mastering effect to get more "wow" into it, and impress whoever is going to listen to it? I mean, just an L2 or something to push the level up a couple of dB. Something you don't intend to be there when you send your mix off to mastering.

Cheers
/Henrik
Old 21st October 2003
  #19
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drundall's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Henrik
Very interesting thread.
I have a question: When you play a mix (or send an mp3 as someone said) to the client/producer/A&R person, do you ever use some quick and dirty mastering effect to get more "wow" into it, and impress whoever is going to listen to it? I mean, just an L2 or something to push the level up a couple of dB. Something you don't intend to be there when you send your mix off to mastering.

Cheers
/Henrik
I see guys doing this, often with a Finalizer or similar product. Haven't found something I really dig yet...
Old 22nd October 2003
  #20
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jazzius II's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Henrik
Very interesting thread.
I have a question: When you play a mix (or send an mp3 as someone said) to the client/producer/A&R person, do you ever use some quick and dirty mastering effect to get more "wow" into it, and impress whoever is going to listen to it? I mean, just an L2 or something to push the level up a couple of dB. Something you don't intend to be there when you send your mix off to mastering.

Cheers
/Henrik
ermmmm, i guess in my case the answer is kinda obvious!
Old 22nd October 2003
  #21
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I've been offered an album (13 songs) to mix for 3000 euro......it's a cool band but, man, that's friggin' peanuts for a whole album, isn't it? (i plan to spend a day on each song)......how do you deal with people trying to beat the price down so low?
Old 22nd October 2003
  #22
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Henrik's Avatar
 

Pricing is the most interesting part when you study economics, and the most difficult part when you run a business.

It may seem obvious that if you keep a low price, you will get many clients and if you keep a high price, you will get few clients (although your profit may be the same in both cases).

But it's just not that simple. It all has to do with the client's expectations. First and foremost, the clients' expectations governs their buying decision in the first place. Regardless of how much they pay, everybody wants their money's worth. So if you keep a pretty low price (like 230 Euro per song), people might not have too great expectations on the end result. This may be a good thing, or not.

Regarding the buying decision, some clients may think their music is worth the best possible treatment, and if they don't expect that from you, you will not get their business if your asking price is too low. And don't underestimate the power of pricing here - I'd say most people expect that an expensive thing is better than an inexpensive thing. In reality, this is of course not the case, but you're not dealing with reality here, you're dealing with people's expectations on reality. So a high price may in effect give you more business than a low price.

On the other hand, with a low price you may still get lots business from clients on a budget who are already familiar with your work, and therefore have good information in advance on what to expect. This is the mechanism behind you offering the first song for free - if the client is happy with the result, they will want you to do more. This is also why you make a sample CD of your previous work to give away for free. And this is why you're always keen on letting potential clients know about all the famous people that have previously hired you. If you have a reputation of being a very good mixing/mastering engineer, then pricing won't affect your business all that much. You will have plenty of work at any rate.

Note that pricing may also affect the client's opinion on your work after it's done. Far from all of your clients will have the experience to tell a good mix/mastering job from a bad one. So it's not unlikely that a low price will make your clients think they didn't get the best there was - even though this may have been the case. This effect works the other way around too: If someone paid you a lot, this may affect them to believe they really got something good. If you pay too much for something, you're a fool. Nobody wants to be a fool, so if they paid a lot they WILL think what they got was really good. To be clear; this applies to people with little listening experience. But that description may well fit the real decision makers.

There's plenty more to be said about this, and loads of pricing strategies to be considered. But the really big question is - what do your clients expect from you?

Cheers
/Henrik

aka Dr Phil of running a small business
Old 22nd October 2003
  #23
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CrazyBeast's Avatar
 

Thanks Dr. Phil! Well spoken.

I think it's time to raise my rates...
Old 22nd October 2003
  #24
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Henrik's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by CrazyBeast
Thanks Dr. Phil! Well spoken.
LOL, no trouble.

Quote:
Originally posted by CrazyBeast I think it's time to raise my rates... [/B]
Well, depends on your customers...

Cheers
/Henrik
Old 22nd October 2003
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Henrik
Note that pricing may also affect the client's opinion on your work after it's done. Far from all of your clients will have the experience to tell a good mix/mastering job from a bad one. So it's not unlikely that a low price will make your clients think they didn't get the best there was - even though this may have been the case.
Cheers
/Henrik

aka Dr Phil of running a small business
When I first started mixing major label stuff, I would quote outragious rates for the records I didn't want to do. It seemed that the more I charged, the more they had to have me. Labels are funny like that.
Old 22nd October 2003
  #26
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Stick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Henrik
Very interesting thread.
I have a question: When you play a mix (or send an mp3 as someone said) to the client/producer/A&R person, do you ever use some quick and dirty mastering effect to get more "wow" into it, and impress whoever is going to listen to it? I mean, just an L2 or something to push the level up a couple of dB. Something you don't intend to be there when you send your mix off to mastering.

Cheers
/Henrik
Almost always. Especially if I'm not controlling the listening... which I'm usually not. Who knows what they're going to do with it. Burn a disc with a few other tunes to check out in the car? "Hey, all the other tunes sound a lot bigger!" Sometimes, I'll even do some "mastering eq and compression" if my mix isn't sounding enough like whatever it is they told me they want it to sound like.
Old 22nd October 2003
  #27
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius II
how do you deal with people trying to beat the price down so low?
say you can't do it for that.

really., Turn it down. if you have no vested interst in the project, why devalue yourself?
Old 23rd October 2003
  #28
I just did this and the client came back and got me to do only 3 of the songs. He used a cheaper guy to do the rest (suits me, really!) The sessions over ran and wern't straightforward... I'd have been very pissed off if I was locked into ALL10 tracks for this person at 'bargain' rate.

He seems to have respected my stance on price and my work...

He will be back I am sure.
Old 23rd October 2003
  #29
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Yeah, same here.......i've agreed in theory to do the album for 3G, but we're gonna do 2 songs first to see how it goes......if they're a pain in the arse, i'll not do the album.......also, cash up front....
Old 24th August 2005
  #30
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oortnyc's Avatar
 

What, on average, are the top guys lilke Andy Wallace charging per mix?
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