We have all heard the expression "a mix is never finished, it’s abandoned”. I mean really, when does any artist know when to put the brush down and declare to the world that their masterpiece is done?
Mixing music is a full on emotional rollercoaster. We rely on emotions to mix feeling into a song so that the finished product has the best chance of connecting "emotionally" with listeners.
The problem is that these emotions can often stop us from finishing a mix. I remember from my past inexperienced days that I would find it easy to not finish a mix as the lure to polish and perfect tracks beyond what was reasonable started to become a better solution to actually focusing on getting the job done.
Over the years I have discovered that I have developed some signs that I now always look for as these signs tell me I’m close to finishing a mix that I will be happy with.
Taking A Step Back - The Bigger Picture
The first sign that tells me that I am close to finishing a mix is that I rarely reach for a control, fader or plug-in. Instead I find myself listening to the music as though I have just heard it again for the first time. This maybe because I'm started to get bored of hearing the song with forensic ears but rather I like to think of this as a sign, my intuition listening from a different perspective.
Does That Add Anything?
Another sign that alludes to a mix being close to finishing is that I find myself looking for things to remove from the project that don’t actually add anything to the bigger picture of the music. Sometimes it can be as simple as removing a plug-in that doesn’t add anything audible or in some cases just rolling back a small send amount to an effects aux.
Fear Of Over Egging The Pudding
When using my control surface I will physically put my hands up as though I’ve made a mistake, some of my clients laugh when I do this. For me it’s a way of saying to myself “Dan you went a step too far, there was nothing wrong with that vocal or bass, stop fiddling, you had it”. This is the fear stage of messing up or “over egging the pudding”.
When mixing for a client it is never ultimately complete without their approval, which is usually around the time their budget is spent.
- How do you know when you are close to completing a mix?