A while back, we talked about how to eliminate the unwanted kind of feedback. But we’re talking about a different kind of feedback today. This kind of feedback will make you a better producer, engineer, or mixer – and fast!
The secret is getting good, reliable, and regular feedback on your work. Let’s talk about your local supermarket. As you walk around, you’ll notice hundreds if not thousands of items – just about all of which are major improvements from the products available fifty years ago. They’re safer, they taste better, they’re sleeker, or they’re more energy efficient. And all of this is because of the way in which the free economy requires progress. A company needs to listen to the feedback from its customers, make changes, and then release a new product. If they don’t, someone else will!
So if companies can continue to make better and better products, by getting feedback, so can you!
If you want to get better at mixing, then you absolutely must get feedback on your mixes. As you get more and more feedback, you’ll learn what to do better the next time around. Before you know it, you’ll be making incredible music. But before you start getting feedback, there’s a few things to remember.
Tips for getting useful feedback:
1. To get useful feedback, show your music to people who will give you an honest assessment. This is usually someone other than your mother or spouse. You don’t want to hear that your mix is perfect – you want to hear what is imperfect so that you can make it even better!
2. Set up the expectation for constructive criticism. Don’t ask someone if they like your mix. Ask them how it could be better. This lets the other person feel comfortable giving you constructive criticism. If someone replies with “it’s perfect how it is,” ask specifically about certain elements. “Are the drums too loud?” “Do the vocals sound like they’re balanced well?”
3. Get multiple opinions. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You can’t build a true assessment of your mix if you’re only asking one person if they like it.
Tips for using feedback:
1. No matter how many times it happens, any criticism is going to sting. It doesn’t matter how open your mind is, when you first hear that something you did is not quite perfect, it’s going to hurt a little. The key is to shorten that amount of time to seconds, not years. The sooner you can get over it, the sooner you’re going to be able to fix it and actually be better.
2. Make the adjustment right away, but save it as a copy or alternate version. Then, after not listening to either version for some time (maybe 3 to 5 days), do an A-B test and see which you like better. 9 out of 10 times, you’ll like the revised version better. This is just a way to prove it to yourself.
3. Be a repeat offender. Ask for opinions on your revisions. This is going to help you in many ways – ultimately in that you’ll be able to see exactly what makes people react in different situations. You’ll be learning how to fix your mistakes before you even make them – ultimately making you even better in the long run.
So go out there and ask for some opinions on your work! Feedback is truly the way to get better as a producer, engineer, or mixer.