Picture this: you’ve just poured your heart out into a fully arranged composition. You’ve spent hours perfecting each track and you’ve got everything you wanted in place on your project file. Your vision for how the final product will sound and you have it all written out. Now you’re (excitedly, yet reluctantly) ready to hand it over for it to be mixed and mastered to (near) perfection! When it comes to getting your song mixed, you want to make sure the mixing engineer has all the files necessary to process and mix your entire project the way you envisioned. There are a few steps in making sure you’re actually ready to hand it over:
Step #1: DO Make Sure All of Your Tracks are Properly Labeled
This is super important simply due to the fact that the engineer wants to get a idea of the tracks he’s mixing. If we get a project with files labeled “Track_01.wav” thru “Track_37.wav”, the painstaking process of labeling each track according to their instrument or effect will quickly eat away at the time we can be using to bring the vision you have for your song to life! Please do both yourself and the engineer a favor: label those tracks!
Step #2: DO NOT Give Multiple Edits/Comps of a Single Track
Only include the final version of each track you submit. For starters, the mix engineer isn’t there to help you arrange your track…they are there to mix your song (hence, the word “mix” in their title)! Second of all, the mix engineer’s idea of your “best performance” might be different than yours. Creative differences and whatnot come into play here. Of course, the engineer’s overall duty is to make sure your vision is met in the final product; however, this is another task that would eat up a lot of valuable time when it comes to completing your project. Help us get it right the first time (if possible) and leave all the unwanted edits out of the list of tracks you submit.
Step #3: DO Turn Off All Processing and Effects When Exporting Your Tracks
When you’re trying out different effects on your track to get an idea of where you want to take things, by all means, go to town with the insert section in your DAW! However, when it comes to handing your tracks over to be mixed, your plugins have to take the back seat. It’s ok to submit a rough cut of what you’ve got for reference when it comes to effects for the overall song and for certain regions of your arrangement, but submitting a processed track to be mixed gives the engineer very little room to process your track as well as the overall song. Keep your tracks dry, so that your engineer has the control he or she needs to bring your vision to life!
Step #4: DO NOT Send Snippets!!!
These are short audio clips that you want included in your mix that do not match the length of the overall song. All included tracks have to match the length, tempo, and pitch of the song. Otherwise, the engineer be doing more than mixing your song; They’ll be ARRANGING your music. Unless you want them on the split sheet, let’s keep the arranging on your side and leave only the mixing/mastering process to the mixing/mastering engineer(s)!
As a bonus, here’s a list of articles/videos I compiled of the top 10 DAWS (not in any particular order) explaining how to properly export your tracks so that they all match in length and timing: