As an artist or music producer, you might be wondering: How much does pro mixing and mastering cost? At a certain point, working with a mixing and/or mastering engineer becomes essential if you don’t have the skills to do it yourself. But how much does it cost on average?
The average price for mixing and mastering services is usually between $100 and $900. Experienced sound engineers with strong portfolios are generally leaning towards prices in the hundreds of dollars. The prices of less experienced, still-growing sound engineers, on the other hand, are more likely to be in the hundred-dollar range.
Keep in mind, however, that these days, with ever easier access to different types of services at a wide range of prices, these generalities are gradually disappearing.
You could just as easily find great mixing and mastering services online for $80. Just as you could find mixing and mastering services costing several hundred dollars… that aren’t worth it!
What’s really essential is to ensure that the quality is there at the end of the mixing and mastering process. Or at least that it’s worth the sale price!
But experience isn’t the only thing that can make prices vary. And to make the best choice, it’s important to know all these aspects. Let’s talk about them in this article!
If You’re A Sound Engineer Yourself…
This article was written from the perspective of an independent artist seeking answers to the question of average prices for mixing and mastering services. But if you’re a mastering and mixing engineer looking to find out what price to charge for mixing music, then this article may not be of interest to you.
But don’t worry! I’ve got just what you need if you’re used to working on “small” vocal-to-instrumental mixing sessions. In fact, you’ll find lots of answers to your questions in this article on How Much Should You Charge For Mixing Vocals To a Beat
Average prices for mixing vocals to a beat
Before you choose a sound engineer…
Before you start looking for a sound engineer, you need to ask yourself this question: Do I need a professional sound engineer to mix and master my music?
Because when it comes to service (music or otherwise), the ultimate goal is to get something in return. And especially something that’s worth the money you put in.
If you put down $150 for a mixing engineer, you’ve got to be pretty sure that what you’re going to get will be worth that amount. And it doesn’t always have to be financial.
In the field of music mixing and mastering, two typical situations can arise:
- Or you’re an artist still in the development stage. Who occasionally releases a few demos on Soundcloud or on platforms that attract a small audience (a few hundred or thousand streams per song).
- Or you’re an independent artist at a relatively advanced level. You have several tens of thousands of streams, a solid following on social media and play at large-scale concerts and popular festivals.
As a general rule, it’s only in the second situation that hiring a professional mixing engineer can be interesting for your future activities.
That’s because you’ll be able to build even greater audience loyalty, visibility and credibility in the music business. But that’s not all! In this article on the 8 Benefits Of Hiring a Professional Mixing Engineer, you’ll discover all the advantages of a sound engineer when it comes to mixing and mastering.
On the other hand, if you’re still a “novice” artist yet to prove yourself, then I’d advise you to keep posting demos and content on social media.
Some artists are able to build up a very solid following on social networks alone. Without even a professionally mixed and mastered project. Something to think about!
ℹ️ So is it worth paying for professional mixing and mastering? You can enjoy a more in-depth answer in this article: Is It Worth Paying For Professional Mixing and Mastering?
Typical price ranges for mixing and mastering services
I’ll now give you the usual price ranges according to typical profiles of sound engineers offering mixing and mastering services.
This will give you an idea of what you can find on the music market in terms of mixing and mastering services. But it will also help you spot potential scammers (let’s get away from scammers!).
A. The newbie: Around 80$
In today’s market, chances are you’ll come across newcomers, newbies. These are usually young sound engineers looking for more serious projects.
They have very little experience in music production and are often looking for more clients. That’s why their prices are usually very low.
But in certain situations, you can get a lot out of this kind of engineer. Especially if you’re still developing as an artist yourself.
First of all, you have the price advantage. Mixing and mastering services at such prices are rare. But there’s also a good chance you’ll come across a young talent who’s worth far more than he/she charges for his/her services.
Some may even be far more innovative than some of the tried-and-tested mixing and mastering engineers in their field. Which can lead to some pleasant surprises!
You may not get a radio-ready or “pro” mix at the end of the process. But it’s likely that you’ll benefit from good experience and a mix and mastering.
B. The pro sound engineer: From 120$ to 250$
This is probably the most widespread category of mixing and mastering engineer on the market. In this category, you’ll find very good, professional sound engineers who will (normally) be able to provide you with energetic, pro and radio-ready mixes and masters.
Their portfolio is often very solid and full of great projects. For the vast majority, mixing and mastering quality is guaranteed. Even if most of them don’t have “big” artists in their portfolio.
Compared to more novice sound engineers, here you have the opportunity to work with real professionals. These mixing engineers know their business and their industry. And that makes all the difference to the many less experienced sound engineers out there.
If you’re starting to build up a bigger audience and really want to get into the professional music industry, then this is the kind of budget I’d advise you to go for.
C. The Experienced sound engineer: From 250$ to 800$
This is the third typical sound engineer profile. Compared to the “simple” pro sound engineer, this one has two extra advantages.
Firstly, they are much more experienced, and therefore able to adapt easily to new mixing situations. The ears of this kind of mixing and mastering engineer are usually very sharp.
The vast majority of this category of mixing engineer can boast of having worked with big names during their careers. This gives them unbeatable credibility and above-average knowledge of the music industry.
Most of these mixing engineers also often have a solid network within the music industry. So you might just have a chance of being spotted by a big-name producer. Who knows?
That being said, it’s important to ask yourself whether those few hundred dollars are worth it to take full advantage of these benefits… It’s up to you!
D. The Legend! : From 900$ To Several Thousands $
If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that this category of sound engineer doesn’t interest you and/or is completely inaccessible at this point.
These are the mixing and mastering engineers who can be described as legends of the field. Chris-Lord Alge, Jaycen Joshua, Tchad Blake, Andrew Scheps,… These are names that have left their mark on music in their respective genres.
As you can imagine, this is not the kind of sound engineer who will work for small independent artists. But if you have ambitions in music, I really hope you’ll work with this kind of mixing engineer one day in your career.
Musical Genre Can Affect These Figures
These figures represent generalities in the music business. But musical genre is the main aspect that can make these price ranges vary quite drastically.
Indeed, depending on the genre you specialize in, the mixing and mastering time required will be greatly affected.
The most typical case is rap/hip-hop music. This is a genre in which producers and beatmakers work almost exclusively with sounds from sample libraries. More complex recordings are rare in this musical genre.
In many cases in hip-hop and rap mixing, the instrumental will even have already been mixed by the producer or beatmaker. The sound engineer in charge of mixing and mastering will then only have to mix… the vocals! And that’s all.
Need a professional sound engineer specializing in pop and hip-hop mixing ? Great! Take a look at our services and let’s blow up your career together!
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In such cases, mixing and mastering time is drastically reduced, and the prices charged by the sound engineer are generally lower than average.
You could, for example, find very good mixing engineers with a solid portfolio charging $100 for mixing vocals on a stereo instrumental.
But the opposite can also be true. For more complex pop projects, for example, the bill can get pretty steep! Or for soul music projects involving a lot of studio recording.
Keep in mind that the more complex your projects are in terms of production, the more the sound engineer handling the mix and master is likely to charge.
Other Aspects Can Also Affect The Price
Other aspects can influence the price of mixing and mastering services. But what are they?
- Number of audio tracks. As a general rule, the more tracks you have to mix, the heavier the workload for the mixing engineer. It will take longer, and the amount charged will be higher.
- Complexity of your project. But the number of tracks to mix isn’t everything. Sometimes, projects with only a few tracks take the mixing engineer a long time, due to the complexity of the project. And the opposite can also happen.
- Additional requests. If you have requests that go further than “just” mixing and mastering, chances are the price charged will increase. Manual tuning, drum replacement, additional editing… It all comes at a cost!
- Turnaround time requested. Do you have a very tight deadline for the release of your project? Or, on the contrary, is the release date still a long way off? The sound engineer may or may not have to give you priority, and therefore charge you more or less.
- Alternative exports. Clean versions, live show versions, acapellas,… If you need this kind of export, the sound engineer in charge of mixing and mastering will have to take the time needed to provide you with it. And that’s usually for an extra fee.
- Additional revisions. Some mastering and mixing engineers offer their customers an unlimited number of revisions. Others offer none, or a maximum of 3 or 4. This is a matter for discussion with him/her beforehand, but you can expect to pay a little more if you do a lot of mix or master revisions.
And How Much For Mastering Services Only?
Do you have a project that’s already been mixed and would like to have it mastered by a professional mastering engineer? What would be the average price for mastering services only?
Prices for mastering services range from $30 to $70 per song. As with mixing, the experience of the mastering engineer has a major influence on the amount charged. Prices can rise to as much as $150 for mastering by stems.
When it comes to mastering, having a human ear to analyze the quality of the mix and identify any flaws is, in my opinion, essential to achieving a quality product.
And the mastering phase can be more complex than you think! So choosing the right mastering engineer for you is essential if you are to be fully satisfied with the end result.
These days, many mastering engineers offer a free master. Take the opportunity to compare several engineers and see which one suits you best.
In terms of price, remember that the average professional mastering engineer is around $40-50. If you spend this amount on mastering, you’ll usually get a top-quality master, ready for distribution wherever you like.
If you’re an independent artist, novice or not, I’d advise you to stay in this price range. Mastering engineers who charge more than this will, at some level, only provide details you may not even hear. But again, it’s up to you to feel out the mastering engineer you need.
And For Mixing Services Only?
Most online mixing and mastering services offer to include the mastering process with the mix. But if you only need mixing and no mastering, you might wonder what the price would be for mix-only services. Well, actually, the prices are very close to what you’d pay for mixing and mastering.
Indeed, prices for mixing services can range from $90 to $900 for the most expensive. The experience of the sound engineer hired will be the main factor in determining the amount charged. The quality of the engineer’s portfolio also plays an important part in the price charged.
To get an idea of what mixing services only (without mastering) would cost, simply take the figures above and subtract $20-30. This should give you a pretty accurate idea of the budget you need to allocate to mixing.
How To Choose The Right Sound Engineer?
Now that you have all this information, you can think about the next step: finding the right sound engineer to mix and master your music.
But how do you go about finding the right person? Where do you start? What do you need to consider? I’ll give you a few hints below…
- Portfolio quality. As you’ll have understood if you’ve read the above, the portfolio of a mixing and mastering engineer is what will give you the most information about the quality you can achieve at the end of the process. Any self-respecting sound engineer will always have a portfolio of a few projects accessible on his or her website. But if you need more to be convinced (or not), don’t hesitate to e-mail him/her to send more projects he/she has worked on.
- Musical genre. We live more and more in a world of specialists. So much so that some sound engineers can be irreproachable in certain genres, and very bad in others. That’s why it’s essential to choose a mixing engineer who specializes in the musical genre you’re into. This is less important when it comes to mastering.
- Experience. The experience of a mastering and mixing engineer is also a very important aspect. It enables him or her to adapt more easily and effectively to each mastering and mixing situation. In short, the greater the engineer’s experience, the greater your chances of getting a professional mix and master at the end of the process.
But there are also other aspects to consider in order to make the best choice of sound engineer. I tell you about them in this article on How To Choose The Right Mixing Engineer For Your Music
Many factors can influence the price of mixing and mastering services. And while most sound engineers will charge between $100 and $250 per song, it’s important to remember that you can quickly swing from one extreme to the other. Number of tracks, complexity, musical genre or the sound engineer’s experience… All this will affect the final price.
But whatever your choice of engineer, you need to be sure that the money you invest is worth what you get in return, in the medium or long term. It’s also essential to always adapt your budget to your real needs for your future in music.
If you have any questions about this topic or about anything related to music mixing and mastering, please contact me, I’ll be very happy to help!
My favorite tools for mixing pop and hip-hop music:
In the field of auto-tune, I’m convinced that nothing’s better and more efficient than Antares Auto-Tune Pro. As for the EQ’s, FabFilter Pro-Q3 and Slate Digital Infinity EQ are, in my opinion, the best tools. For compression, I have 2 favorites plugins: Waves RComp and UAD EL8 Distressor.
As for reverb, I’m a big fan of the Soundtoys Little Plate, but generally, I go for the Valhalla VintageVerb for its versatility. I also love the Arturia Rev PLATE-140 and the UAD Pure Plate for its organic side.
The closed headphones I love and will always love using for mixing pop and hip-hop music are the Beyerdynamic DT-770. As for the best open-back headphones, I use the Sennheiser HD600 headphones, and I’m really happy of them!
Having a pair of Yamaha HS7 in its studio or home studio is always cool for more excitement while listening to your mixes. The Adam Audio T7V monitors are also super accurate. In my studio, I also have a pair of Genelec 8030 for their reliability.
For anyone who wants to start using hardware in their mixes, I always recommend these 2 units from Klark Teknik: the EQP-KT and the 76-KT. Don’t forget to use good converters, such as the Apollo interfaces. This is essential for a good rendering.