How To Finish More Music: Your 7-Step Process
So…you’ve spent eight hours trying to finish more music, but in reality, you’re just tweaking your tracks, thinking that you’re “mixing.”
After all that, you end up with this:
- Thin-sounding top-end
- Masked instruments cluttered up with too much reverb
- And a boomy low-end
If that’s the case, this post will walk you through the proven process to finish your mix once and for all.
How To Finish More Music Without Wasting Time
You only have so much time to devote to your music in the studio, so I want to ensure you have something to show for it.
Now, I know what you might be thinking…
“I’ve tried to learn to mix but even though I’m doing all the tricks I learn on Youtube, my mixes don’t sound like pro records. I don’t really know where I’m going and I jump from one plug-in to another without really knowing what the mix needs to sound finished”
This is a common thought process, but unfortunately, it will only lead you in circles.
You’ll jump from random trick to random trick instead of following a workflow that leads you to a finish line. Giving you ALL the tips instead of a process is like giving you ALL the ingredients to a great meal but leaving out the recipe.
Sure, if you’re already a great cook, you can figure it out. But if you’ve never made Beef Wellington before, you’re pretty much screwed.
So what can you do to get to the level where you’re not only a great musician but can also record and mix your own music?
I’ll tell you, but honestly, you might be a bit surprised because you may think you’re already doing these things.
But it’s not just about doing them; it’s about doing them correctly and often in the right order. That’s what separates amateur mixes from professional productions.
Transforming yourself from an amateur musician into an accomplished and skilled producer with mixing skills requires you to do these things:
The easiest way to destroy your final mix is to sabotage it before you even start mixing.
You MUST understand when the production, arrangement, and recording are ready for mixing and that your tracks are tight enough to get a rough mix without much work.
Everything builds upon what came before. Your mix will only be as good as the production. The production will only be as good as the arrangement. And the arrangement will only work if the song is good.
If you want better mixes, make better productions. If you need help with that, follow this music production checklist.
2. Mix Setup
It’s easy to make better mixes in less time if you work from a proven process with a template that keeps your momentum going.
It’s a better, more methodical way of mixing that helps you finish better mixes faster.
Fact: You Waste Valuable Time on Every Mix
Scrolling through the plug-in list, wasting time tweaking and demoing plug-ins instead of using the plug-ins you already have to create a powerful mix?
Before you know it, it’s been half an hour, and you still haven’t finished a rough mix because you got lost demoing five different compressors!
Talk about a HUGE waste of time!
How To Save 280 Minutes on Every Album!
If you have 30 tracks…
And you put five plug-ins on every track…
Plus ten aux tracks for effects, with a couple of plug-ins on each aux track…
And it takes you 10 seconds to add each plug-in because you have to scroll through a GIANT list every time…
(10 seconds x 30 tracks x 5 plug-ins) + (10 x 2 x 10) = 1,700 seconds
That’s 28 minutes picking plug-ins for each song?!?!
4 hours. 36 Minutes.
Every. 10 Song. Album!
That’s why you should use a mixing template when you’re working. It will save you hours in the long run.
3. Start With the End in Mind
Jumping from one thing to another is easy if you never planned what you would do in the first place.
That’s why it’s so important to critically listen to your mix so you can use the right mix approach depending on the style of the song.
Have a plan. Think about how you want the end result to sound. Pick your approach accordingly.
If you don’t have an approach, follow this one to help you mix a song from start to finish.
4. Understand the 80/20 Rule of Mixing
Mixing is technical. It’s called audio engineering for a reason.
Understanding the signal flow, routing, gain-staging, and all that jazz is crucial so that your tracks sound good from the start and all the way through your plug-ins to the master fader.
But five processors are more important than others:
Every professional audio engineer worth their salt has mastered these five processors because they do most of the heavy lifting in your mixes.
Master these same plug-ins, and you’re guaranteed better mixes.
- Read Step By Step Mixing: How To Create Great Mixes Using Only 5 Plug-ins to learn everything you need to know about them.
5. Mix Translation
If your mix only sounds good through the speakers of your home studio, it’s not a good mix.
It HAS to translate because you never know who will listen to your music or what their speakers sound like.
Learning how to get your mixes to translate to every speaker you play them through is a non-negotiable skill you can’t neglect.
For my 7-step process on making your mixes translate to every speaker system, read this in-depth guide on how to finish your mixes.
6. Mastering Your Mix
If you skip this stage, your song won’t ever sound competitive.
You can mix a great song, but if it’s not mastered up to broadcast-ready standards, it’ll be too quiet and weak to compete.
Mastering your mixes used to be the domain of the Voodoo Magic Sith Mastering Engineer, who guarded all the secrets to loud and powerful records inside their Studio Temple of Sound.
Now you can master your own mixes, even if you don’t have a high-end mastering studio or expensive outboard gear.
Regardless of whether you decide to do it yourself, hire a mastering engineer, or use an automated robot mastering service, it’s an essential process to make your mixes radio-ready.
If your music isn’t mastered, you’ll miss the final step that makes your music sound professional.
7. Why Finishing and Releasing More Music Will Improve Your Songs
All of those things I mentioned above are pointless if you skip this final part.
If you want to have any hope of succeeding with your music, building a fan base, finding sync placements, getting clients as a producer, or just being heard in general, you must RELEASE YOUR MUSIC!
It’s the key to continuing your musical journey. It will open doors to opportunities, and it will help you improve your craft. If you don’t have your work out there in the world for people to enjoy, listeners won’t find you, collaborators won’t want to work with you, and the industry won’t know you exist.
Every famous artist you admire started by releasing their music, but you might have never heard those initial releases.
- The first appearance of the Beatles as recording artists was on a subpar song with an artist you’ve probably never heard of. But it has a valuable lesson about success that I share with you here.
- Stefani Germanotta had little success with her initial releases. I shrugged and declined when my friends asked if I wanted to go to this little show in Madrid in 2009 where Stefani Germanotta was playing on tour from America. In hindsight, I should’ve gone because it would’ve been cool to see her before she became Lady Gaga.
- I didn’t even know Eminem released the album “Infinite” until I did research for this article. If he had given up at that point, he wouldn’t have become the grumpy hip-hop superstar we know today.
Many more examples exist, from Katy Perry and Madonna to Drake and Ed Sheeran.
Finishing a mix and then not releasing your music is like running a marathon and then walking off the track right in front of the finish line. Releasing your work builds your portfolio, improves your skills, and increases your probability of success.
Releasing more music means more potential revenue streams for streaming and sync licensing. Releasing more music means a broader portfolio of work you can use to attract clients as a songwriter or producer. And more releases means a bigger legacy of work to look back on in your later years.
Do you want to die with all those songs still inside of you?
Or do you want take control of your artistic journey and finish more music?
How To Finish More Music With My Materials
In case you didn’t know, thousands of home studio musicians and bedroom producers have learned to mix better with my materials.
I test my tips with my students, and I make sure I KNOW they get results before I share my materials in public.
So not only is my training based on 15+ years of personal experience, but it’s also based on the feedback of all of my students about what works for them.
Here’s an example playlist of some of my favorite songs my students have released:
Note: On this playlist, I personally mixed and mastered “Simon, Taylor, Denver, Cash,” “Union Pacific,” Flame,” “Arsonist,” and “Fire.” (Seems like I have a thing for songs about things that burn…” and I also mastered “Black Melody.”
If you’d like to learn the process my students have used to finish more music, check out my products and services right here.