3 Reasons Why Artists Think Paying for Mixing is Expensive (Spoiler: It’s Not)

3 Reasons Why Artists Think Paying for Mixing is Expensive (Spoiler: It's Not)


My time as a provider on Upwork inspired me to write this blog. In the past, I would check the gigs posted on the marketplace to see who was looking for work and send out proposals. What I found, was that many were looking for "intermediate" or "expert" audio engineers, but their indicated project budgets reflected what a beginner might charge. To me, this represents a disconnect between in the market's expectation of quality and the price they are willing to pay. I.E., that market does not actually see or understand the value of expert audio engineers and mixing engineers.

Webster's Dictionary defines "value" as: a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged. Price is a factor in value, as much as the fair return in services is. If the return in services outweighs the price, this is percieved as a high value or inexpensie. If the price outweighs the services, then this is percieved as a low value or expensive.


When artists reach out to me via IG, our website, and TikTok, the leading question 100% of the time is some flavor of "What is your rate / What do you charge?" While their understanding of value is no doubt incomplete without the pricing information, I find it interesting that their initial questions are not in relation to the quality of services. Is it because the artist has already experieced the quality of our services, appreciates our communication skills, ability to meet and exceed expectations, our speed of execution, already knows we are trustworthy, etc.?... Of course this is impossible as this artist has no understanding of what it's like to partner with us yet, they have only sent us an initial question. At most, they have listened to music we have worked on either via this playlist or our projects page. Any yet the first question is almost always, "What is your rate?" - Why is that? Today, I postulate this question...

1) Uncertainty

Many artists are unable to maintain a sonic vision of the "end state" for their music I.E. what their music sounds like mixed and mastered. 

Sometimes, artists can't express or understand what they want - They just want it to "sound better". Without a clear sonic vision / end-state in mind, it might be difficult for any artist to provide feedback during the mixing process to better guide the engineer. The uncertainty of knowing what they want in a mix rasies their fear/anxiety of buyers remorse, causing them to become more price sensitive. If the artist can't predict what their music will sound like after it's been mixed or mastered, there might be irrational fear even if there is no evidence at all that any mix engineer is going to butcher their music. 

When I am lucky enough to work with someone the first time, I do everything I can to make it a no-brainer for them to see the value in working with me again. The artist then has the end state of what their music will sound like when I mix it, and they will will know what it's like to work with me, thus the fear from before is absolved.

What I try to do to resolve this fear before every working with or speaking with artists, is to build trust via my content and web-presence. That's why I'm on TikTok, why I make blog posts, why we have client testimonials and host "before" and "after" clips on our projects page, why we have a website!

2) Confidence

Sometimes, artists are not confident in their ability to capitalize on their investment (and they don't even know it).

in 2023 making music is the easy part. Making great music… that’s STILL the easy part. There's 60,000 songs uploaded to Spotify alone every day. The hardest part is building a business with your music. Establishing and growing an organic fan base, making merch sales, making money from touring, etc.

It's not my intention to discourage anyone here to make music or work with an engineer. What I want to call out is, if you think working with a professional engineer is too expensive it could be that you have no clear plan for growing your music business to capitalize on your investment.

Think about the stock market - Investors are willing to pay upfront for shares in a company (stock) or index fund because they believe they will get that money back and more, growing their wealth. These investments don't even provide any inherent value outside of weath generation. In many cases investors are willing to take on more risk for more financial return, but also more risk for more hollistic return. Investing in clean energy companies, pre-IPO start ups, cryptocurrencies, and other ventures with a purpose of serving the greater good are usually inherently riskier but still get investment. 

Your solution is to design your plan for how you will ensure your music is heard. Even if it's great music - amazing music - you still need a plan to promote and capitalize on your newfound IP/assets (music).

3) Inexperience

Specifically, inexperience hiring and working with tradespeople.

If you’re young and an artist, you may have never hired someone to work on your plumbing, paint your house, fix your car, etc and had to live with the quality of their work. If that's you, no disrespect, you are literally unable to imagine a scenario. I totally understand where you are coming from. If that's you, you also don’t understand what it means to hire someone for "cheap" and had a less-than favorable experience being their customer.

Let's say you have had that experience - You might be hesitant to pay more than you did in the past because you assume you will recieve the same low value in return despite the higher price. You might be wondering, why you should expect a better service at a higher price point?

A tradesperson's rate is set by a combination of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The current demand for a service - How many jobs/clients do they have i.e. time and resource constraints
  • How the tradesperson values their own time in exchange for their service - What amount of money is worth their time and attention?
  • What the market values their service at - What are clients are willing to pay to work with them?

If you are unable to see the value of that tradesperson's work in advance of paying their rate, then you probably are not the right customer for them - And that is 100% OK. What you may not have considered, is you might need to find a tradesperson with a higher price, not a lower price, to see value in their work.

Think about the last time you worked with an engineer, and had a bad experience. Why?

  • Were you happy with their ability to communicate?
  • Do you have all of your mixed stems and deliverables, or is that engineer still holding on to those files just waiting for their hard drive to crash?
  • Did that engineer put in the effort to make you happy and check-in with you? Or, did they get defensive when you had feedback for them on the mix?
  • When you play your music back with other music on Spotify, does it hold up in terms of clarity, punch, volume, excitement, etc?

If you could go back in time, would you pay more to rectify those concerns?

If you've got any hesitations about working an engineer, contact us and we would be happy to address them.

As for what's up like, 'RIGHT NOW' right now?

a picture for the joint event we ran at Mansions Wine Bar

We recently joined forced with eto ano to throw a producer's open aux night at Mansions Wine Bar in Bushwick Brooklyn NYC. The vibes cocered every genre from house type stuff to rock records and everyone got a chance to spin. Trying to think about what other types of events we should help throw... Let us know if you've got ideas!

If you want to work with us or just shoot the sh*t, hit our socials, send us an email, use our contact us form, whatever works for you!

Ciao ciao.