Mixing Project Timelines – What to Expect (and 5 Delays to Prepare For)

Mixing Project Timelines - What to Expect (and 5 Delays to Prepare For)

Speaking from my experience as an mixing engineer in a major market like New York City, having worked on hundreds of mixing projects I’ve picked up on a few common patterns, milestones, potential hiccups, and misaligned expectations when it comes to healthy project timelines. Some of these thoughts have already gone into the free mixing project management spreadsheet we have available - Read up on and download that here!

Here are some factors that affect the timing of your project that you might not have considered, and which you might want to consider when establishing timelines:

Click to access the Project Management Spreadsheet

Examples of Potential (Albeit, Normal) Delays

1). You might get excited, and get ahead of yourself.

It's not uncommon for clients I'm working with to excitedly boast to me or their circles "My next project is already done and I've got the next one in the clip"... When they haven't even finished recording every song. In fact, there's probably a song they haven't even recorded yet, that they haven't even written, that will end up on that project. The creative production of a song should be mostly done before the mixing process begins, and certainly the recording should be done before mixing begins. Inexperienced artists tend to downplay the amount of attention, energy and work left to be done after the songwriting and recording process is complete because they aren't directly doing the mixing or mastering work.

2). Prepping your multitracks might be complex.

Building in 24 hours between when the engineer opens the multitracks for the song and when they start mixing. Sometimes the multitracks sent don’t match the demo. Unfortunately, the engineer is going to figure that out and raise the issue with you. This will lead to a delay where you are scrambling to send the correct multitracks because you didn’t check, or you will be contacting your producer to get the right multitracks... if they haven't deleted them by accident yet.

3). Ears need a break.

There's a lot of psychology to be accounted for in the process of mixing music. Hearing is a perception, just like eyesight. When you go to sleep at night, have you noticed that your eyes adjust to the dark? Hearing can be affected in a similar way when it's exposed to sound for extended periods of time even at low volumes in the form of ear fatigue. When the ears are fatigues, the judgment of the engineer can be affected. The quickest solution? Time away from listening to the song. Counterintuitively, this time away from the song is extremely productive to the outcome of a balanced and immersive mix. When your engineer puts down the song for a day to revisit it the next day, this is probably why.

Courtesy www.sengpielaudio.com (click image to read more)

4). Remember, people have lives.

As the artist, determine upfront how many trusted confidants you will involve in the mixing process for feedback, as this could directly affect your throughput. This might be producers, A&Rs, managers, friends, but decide who’s in and who’s out if you're able to. Consider someone asking you for your opinion on something, but maybe you've got an 8 hour work day, or you have kids, or you need to test in your car. Allowing 12-24 hours time for each team member who will be weighing in on mixes and revisions to return their thoughts and feedback is healthy and sustainable. After all, you don't want your team to abandon you because you are annoying and expect things to be turned around on an unreasonable timeline. For example, Artist (1 person), producer, and A&R is 3 people. Between all 3 of you and ear breaks, it might be 3 days in between when you receive a mix and you can get feedback/notes will be sent to the engineer. Can you all work faster than this? Yes. Save it when you are in a time crunch or up against a deadline or else you might looking like "the artist who cried wolf".

5) Ask about vacations!

Is your producer going to ibiza for a week? Is the engineer going to visit their parents for the holidays? Great! Just account for that in your timing. Their ability to communicate might be impacted temporarily.

An Example, 1 Song Mixing Project Timeline:

The model below assumes a indie project with just an artist and a producer or friend/confidant.

Day 1 - Multitracks are sent by artist to engineer

Day 1 or 2 - Multitracks are downloaded by engineer

Day 3 - 24 hours to confirm if the multitracks sent align with the demo of the song, ensuring the correct trckouts have been sent

Day 10 - However long the engineer has until they are free to start working on your song (will use 7 days as a proxy for this model, but this could be longer or short depending on the engineer and prior commitments and schedule)

Day 12 - 48 hours to mix. Engineer might mix, give it a day, send back to artist. This can also vary. Artist receives mix and listens, documents feedback for engineer. Artist sends song to producer for their input

Day 13 - Producer gives their input to the artist. Artist returns documented feedback to engineer.

Day 14 - Engineer receives feedback and provides revision.

Now, add 2 days for each revision. We are coming up on 3 weeks from when the artist sends their multitracks to when the mix is complete. Again, this is just en example. The process could be shorter, but it could also be much longer.

Hope this was helpful to you as you think about your next mixing project!

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

Oaxacan old fashioned

Pardon this extremely amature photo. I've started making "Oaxacan Old Fashioned"s at home and I'm hooked. Simple - Mezcal, barspoon of agave syrup, 2 dashes of bitters. Supposed to be garnished with orange peel but I didn't have any so I just tossed a luxardo cherry in there. The mezcal on hand right now is El Occidental Mezcal Papalote (Guerrero). Came at the recommendation of the liquor store guy as something different from the espadin mezcals produced in Oaxaca. I suppose that makes this a Guerrero Old Fashioned?

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