Step-by-step instruction that will help you to conveniently and effectively organize work as a mixing engineer/producer. This is a must-read for everyone who works remotely in the music industry.
What is the issue with remote music mixing and production?
Internet access provides you with an opportunity to work remotely: share files, discuss edits, and deliver ready-made tracks. Discussions with the client, cooperation with many participants and also editing tracks remotely, all that takes a lot of time and makes the music production process even more complicated. In addition, a certain amount of time is taken up in organizational matters:
- discussing parts that need to be edited;
- tracking and noting what needs to be edited;
- managing communications and file-sharing with multiple clients;
- making phone calls due to misunderstandings.
In this article, we are going to talk about how to deal with such time-consuming problems using cloud services, based on 3 principles:
How does a typical workflow of mixing engineer/producer look like?
Suppose you are mixing a track for a client. You cooperate with the client remotely, which means that you will discuss and make corrections remotely and a typical workflow will look something like this:
- Working on a track in DAW.
- When the track is ready — transfer it to the client in any convenient way (mail, a link to the file in the cloud).
- Waiting for feedback from the client.
- Make edits and repeat the previous steps.
Let’s consider two ways how you can simplify your remote music production/mixing using these services:
So, let’s start with a Dropbox workflow.
Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud services. It is frequently used for remote work.
What is the convenience of Dropbox?
- The Dropbox folder can be located directly inside your file system.
- Can be used on a laptop, PC or smartphone.
- It’s a pretty widespread tool that can be easily recognized.
Here is the step-by-step guide on how to organize the remote music production/mixing with the client using Dropbox.
Setting things up
1. Go to Dropbox and download the installer.
2. Double-click the icon and install the desktop client.
3. Launch the Dropbox application after installation. In case you don’t have an account yet, just press Sign up and create it. If the account already exists, press Log in.
4. After installation the Dropbox folder will appear in your system folder. This folder is synchronized: as soon as you upload your files, they are automatically sent to the cloud. If you delete the files, they will disappear from the cloud as well.
5. Create a folder with the client’s name or the name of the project you’re currently working on. It is recommended so it will be easier to navigate if you have several clients.
6. Right-click on the created folder and choose the “Share” option.
7. Open access to the client: enter his email and allow editing. You may drop a line to your client and explain where exactly you invite him and why. Press “Share” and it’s done.
8. The client will receive an email with an invitation to the Dropbox folder. All he will have to do is just follow the link.
Then you can get back to crafting your perfect track version for your client…
When your new mix is ready
9. Once the track is ready, it’s time to show it to the client. To send a file just save it to that folder with the client’s name directly from your DAW (keep in mind that the folder is synchronized with the cloud automatically).
10. The client will get an email notification that the new file appeared in a shared folder. To be able to see the file and work with it, he will need to Sign up or Log in Dropbox.com.
After that, the client has to go to a shared folder and open the track. Here he will see a comment box and will be able to listen to the track and leave the comments.
Important! It is worth telling the client that he should specify the exact time and part of the track he wants to comment on. If your client won’t do this, you simply will not understand what should be changed in a track.
If you need to change something in a range, you should specify the range timing (eg. 1:00-1:35). Also, the name and number of the track’s part can be written instead of the timing. For example “in a 1st chorus” or “in the 3rd verse.”
Note: The client should mention you (your email) in the comments using @. Thus you will get a notification to the email and to the Dropbox desktop app. If the client won’t do this, you won’t be notified.
Ask the client to write a message or email, when he is 100% done with the commenting and you can start editing the mix.
Editing the mix
11. Now you are ready to look into the client feedback. Go to dropbox.com (not the desktop app, because you will not be able to see the comments there). Open the folder with the track and the file.
Here’s how the track with the comments inside looks like and comments from your client are on the right side. This is your mix “task list.”
12. Listen to the necessary track parts, the timing of which was specified by the client, by dragging the slider of the Dropbox player, or use the time navigation in your DAW.
DAW time navigation (eg. Ableton Live)
If you have any other ideas, or you want to discuss something about the editing, you can respond to the client’s comment right in Dropbox. Don’t forget to mention him with @email, because otherwise he will not get a notification and may not notice your answer.
If there are a lot of things to discuss, it is better to use a messenger (for example, in FB), or to make a VoIP call using Skype/Hangouts. But, do not make too many calls, because this additional action can be time-consuming, especially when you work with a lot of clients.
Save the new version of the track to the same folder right from your DAW and wait for the further feedback.
Pibox — cloud service for remote collaboration on tracks. It combines all the advantages of cloud storage and is precisely tailored to the work of music producers or mixing engineers.
Several Pibox features:
- Client and you can comment right on the waveform;
- Version-tracking made for audio mixes;
- Chat and hi-res audio calls to stream mixes from your DAW;
- Applications for the desktop (Windows and MacOS) and mobile (Android and iOS);
- it is convenient to work with multiple clients and scale the business.
Here’s how you can organize teamwork with Pibox.
Preparation for work
1. Go to Pibox and create an account.
2. After logging into your account, you will see a window called “New Project.” This is an empty new project, which is automatically created during registration. Thus, you can immediately start working in it.
3. Export finished mix can from DAW to any folder on the computer, and then drag and drop the file directly into the project in Pibox.
File will appear in the project after uploading.
4. Rename the project so the client will understand where you’ve invited him. Click the settings button in the upper right corner and change the name of the project.
Inviting and receiving feedback from the client
5. When everything is ready, it’s time to invite the client who will listen to the mix and give feedback.
Click the “Add people” button at the upper right corner of the project.
Enter the client’s email in the pop-up window to send the invitation. Click “Invite,” and the client will receive an invitation to the email.
Fast “copy link” method: You can copy the invitation link and send it to the client in any communication app. So you will be sure that the link is not lost, and the client received an invitation.
After the client follows the link, he will see the name of the project and the photo (if you customized it). He will need to Sign up or Log in to get access to the project.
Important: Client’s account is included in your (producer’s) subscription, so you don’t need to worry about client’s access and payments.
6. After the client enters the account, he will see your project and the track inside.
7. To leave a comment, the client needs to press the “Comment” button near the track.
8. The client can select a part of the track that he wants to comment on and write a comment under it.
It is possible to specify only a moment of the track if it’s enough.
Pibox automatically delivers the exact time of the selected moment or range of the track, which the client commented on, and puts it next to the comment.
As soon as the client leaves a comment, you will automatically receive a notification on the preferred device (iOS, Android, Web or Desktop).
You can also reply to client’s comments.
If you need to discuss something in detail and actively, you can switch to the chat window and text each other there. Thus, the track itself, comments and discussion with the client will be in one place.
Working with client’s feedback
After you have dealt with a feedback from the client, you can open a list of comments and listen to the places where a client left comments.
When you press “Play”, next to each comment, the part of the track related to this comment starts playing and highlighting blue.
When you finish the requested edit in the DAW, you can mark it as “Done” comment in the check-list.
You will definitely see what edits you have already made, and which ones still need to be worked out. So, no need to make additional notes.
When all edits have been made, upload the new version of the track using the Versioning feature.
Versions will be always linked together for a simpler navigation and comparison. (You can fastly switch between old and new versions)
Services make remote work of mixing engineer or producer easier comparing to email or other communication services. Average we saved up to 1 hour per day on communications.
Dropbox: the pros and cons
|Sync folder is located directly in the computer’s file system||High-quality audio is not always transmitted to the built-in player|
|A popular solution for work with files||You have to manually enter time codes to the track|
|Ability to leave basic comments||Active discussion is better to organize separately in the messenger|
|Desktop client + mobile apps||You have to manually navigate using player to listen commented parts|
Dropbox price: Starting at $10 per month for a single user.
Pibox: the pros and cons
|Everything in one place: the track, comments, chat and files||There is no sync folder in the computer’s file system|
|You can highlight the desired part of the track and time code will be automatically placed in comments||No free version (trial version is extended for invitations)|
|You can mark the completed edits||New and unpopular solution on the market|
|Convenient track version control|
|Desktop-client + mobile apps|
Pibox price: Starting at $14 per month for 6 users.