Mixing & Mastering for Producers

I’ve been noticing a trend lately, so I’m going to write about it. see what you make of this:

Producers: How do you tackle Post Production?

I think it’s fast becoming the element of making dance music that gets overlooked, often times to the detriment of an otherwise awesome track. I’ve had this conversation dozens of times with other DJs and Producers and the range of viewpoints on this topic can be varied to say the least. Many producers pay little or no attention to post production in it’s independent form, opting instead to incorporate mixing into the production process, making tweaks and alterations as they work though the track. Others (like me) make clear lines of distinction between the production and mixing processes, and between the mixing and mastering process, completely separating the three entirely. But what’s difference does it make? Does it make any difference? The objective is to get the track sounding the best that it can, right? It’s simply a matter of preference. A workflow choice. Whatever works best for you, is the one you should do. Right? Yes. In an ideal world. However, in my opinion, when Mixing doesn’t take place as a separate discipline after the track has been completed, it is exponentially more difficult to listen to the track objectively. You are still in producer mode. You haven’t shifted your aural focus from ‘creative mode’ to ‘polish and make fit’ mode. I find myself listening to lots of promos from producers that, had they have been listened to with a mixing ear in operation, would just simply sound better. It’s not inability. It’s not lack of mixing skills. It’s just an oversight, that is, in my view, directly linked to this topic of working approach, and I think that makes it all the more unfortunate.

I have heard this viewpoint being described as ‘producer snobbery’ and something that music consumers or clubbers wont either notice, or care about. ‘If the tune is goon enough, nobody cares about that stuff’. In some instances, that may be true, however I think there is a line that when crossed does detract from the quality of the original production. Even the finest piece of wood looks better when it’s polished!
While consumers may not consciously identify the reasons why they dont like a particular track, a lack of said polish on a stellar music arrangement can, in my opinion, have that effect on the relatively passive ears of your fans. A good mix or indeed a tight warm master will probably go completely unnoticed by the majority of people that hear your music. All they will hear is the track in it’s finished form, so they’re lacking the before & after context to be able to identify the mix or master separately to the tune itself – they hear it as one piece. This is what you want to achieve, however in order to achieve this musical singularity, the creator cannot take this singular approach in the production process.

So in summary, I am encouraging producers to focus more on the post production of your tracks and develop both your mixing and mastering skills in much the same way you developed your arrangement and production skills that wrote that synth line or came up with that rolling baseline. In my opinion your tracks will sound all the better for it!

Chris x