I also get a fair amount of criticism. It comes with the territory. 🙂
We don’t tend to pursue criticism. However, a good round of constructive criticism can be immensely helpful.
Do you let people critique your mixes? If not, I think you should. Here’s why:
Step Out of Your Bubble
Remember that episode of Seinfeld with the ugly baby? Your mix could be really ugly and you can’t see it because you’re too emotionally attached. But everyone else can see it. 🙂
Now, there’s obviously not much you can do about an ugly baby, but there’s lots you can do about a mix. Allow a few friends or fellow engineers into your little “bubble” and get their feedback on your mix. The power of an outside opinion is pretty awesome. They’ll hear things you simply don’t. They’ll notice things you’re ignoring. They’ll give you a chance to improve things before you finish the mix.
Oftentimes the critique can come from the client or artist. This is invaluable information, because they will tell you exactly how the mix makes them feel and things they like or dislike.
I was working on a project recently, and when I submitted one of the mixes for the client to review, they came back asking for a very different direction. I made the drums and bass very prominent, with the strings being more of a background sound. It turns out they wanted the strings to be very up-front and the drums and bass in the background. It wasn’t that I had done anything wrong. They simply had a different vision for the song than I originally had.
The point? Their critique was super helpful. Speaking of…
It Can Only Help
If you don’t ever get critiques on your mix, what are you afraid of? Are you scared they’ll offend you? Hurt your feelings? Tell you it sucks?
What would be so wrong with that?
The way I see it, if your mix is bad, it’s bad. If no one points it out, then you won’t change it, and everyone will hear your bad mix.
But if someone critiques it, tells you that there are things they don’t like about it, then you’ll go back and make changes. Then your mix will be better. How is that a bad thing?
Does it hurt your pride? Absolutely. Does it help the mix? Absolutely.
Even if you disagree with the criticism, it will force you to think more objectively about the mix, and to make sure what YOU think is a good mix is ACTUALLY a good mix.
A Breeding Ground for Ideas
I get a lot of GREAT ideas when I listen to critique/feedback on my mixes. The person critiquing will give me all sorts of ideas for things to add to or take away from the mix. These are tools I can use on THAT song, and save in my arsenal for the next time I mix a similar song.
I find the client feedback process to be really fun. To hear what the client likes/dislikes is so fun and helpful. Plus it ensures that the mixes make everyone happy.
Do you have to get critiques on every mix you do? Nah. But if you’re mixing FOR someone you should certainly be getting feedback from them before you submit the final mixes. If you’re mixing for yourself, then it would do you some good to occasionally send out a mix or two to some buddies for critique.
VIP Mix Critiques
I get emails all the time from people asking me to critique their mixes. I can’t possibly critique every mix I get, so please don’t ask me. Ask your friends.
However, I try to regularly hold mix critique sessions for my VIP members. If you’re not a member, you can join here. The next mix critique session is next Tuesday (November 29th). If you ARE a member, log in to the members area for more details on having your mix critiqued.
What do you think? Are critiques helpful? Will you try it?