I drafted these a while back because the mix notes I was getting from clients were confusing and conflicting. I thought I'd post them here for mixers to give clients or artists/bands to use when writing mix notes. Enjoy!
If you are reading this, congratulations! Your record or single is almost complete. In fact, it very well may be complete already. That is entirely up to you. It's time for you to make mix notes. Here are a few ideas that will help to make sure your project is completed as quickly as possible and to your complete satisfaction:
1. Stay Organized.
The mix notes you present should be either written legibly or typed and should include the following: Your name, the version number of the mixes you're critiquing, (noted in the filename) and the date you made the notes. This will prevent me from pulling out all of my hair.
2. If you are a band, you should provide me with ONE set of notes.
If I get separate mix notes from different members of the band, the notes will inevitably contradict one another. Talk amongst yourselves, come to an agreed-upon Word document, and present that document as your notes. If you are a solo artist, it may be wise to involve one or two other musicians who you trust.
3. Don't let your mom make mix notes.
While I am certain of your mother's musical shrewdness and confident in her ability to point out problems in relative levels and frequency imbalances, this is your project. The more people you involve in the mix notes process, the more varied responses you will get, the more negative reactions you will get when all the people you tried to involve hear the final mixes. Keep these mixes to a few key contributors and your record will impress everyone.
4. Remember SPUD: Section, Part, Up or Down.
With regard to simplicity and effective communication, this is the best way to communicate the changes you wish to be made in a mix. For example: "Chorus 1, Left Electric Guitar, Down" is far more effective than, "I really like the tone of the electric guitar and I know that you probably have it placed right in the mix where you want it, but if it isn't too much trouble, perhaps you could raise the left electric guitar ever so slightly because I think that it would provide a very nice lift to the chorus." Section, part, up, or down. Be bold!
5. Don't listen too hard.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, listening passively will actually serve to benefit your project. By this I mean that you should refrain from listening to these mixes on your dad's $10,000 audiophile surround sound speakers with your decibel meter in one hand and a pen in the other. Just pop it in the car and go for a ride, dude. That's what your fans will do. Listen on repeat for a while and write down what changes you'd like to hear. (On the other hand: don't just listen on your iPhone speaker at work and ask me to turn up the bass - true story.)
I hope you're excited about the thought of having your project done. As the mix engineer, I most certainly am!