I think when people start in music, they think that they can join mixing and mastering together. They can’t. They are two different mindsets, where the former is all about balancing the track while the latter is concerned on how to make it sound like a finished track.
I don’t recommend being a mix mastering engineer. If you are, you’re splitting your time across two things, and you’re only going to be able to charge up to a certain amount of money for your work. After all, the kind of clients you’re dealing with then will be fairly low-endish people who don’t see the benefit of having two different engineers.
Ask yourself: do you want to be the guy who can do a bit of everything but only charges like 150 pounds a day, or do you want to be the expert that comes over and costs you 250 quid for three hours work? In every industry, when you’re trying to be a little bit of everything, you’re never going to be able to command big money.
The bigger, better people understand that, and they come to me cause I’m a mastering guy. They know Streaky equals mastering. They don’t think Streaky equals mixing. I would rather specialise and put all my efforts into having an expert opinion about mastering, rather than having a bit of knowledge about a few things but not being very good at any of them.
Also, don’t worry about turning people away; don’t be desperate. You need to have the confidence to do it for this amount because that’s how good you are. People will respect you for that, and they will give you work and then your work will grow. Build up your clients, and soon enough, you’ve got enough coming in to earn a decent living. Before you tell me, “It’s different now; everyone can do everything,” no, it’s not. In any industry, everybody is a specialist at the top, and everyone’s a generalist at the bottom. If you want to get good clients and be at the top of your industry, you need to specialise.
Choose your path, stick to it, and get good at it. Then you’ll enjoy what you’re doing much more than being the jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none.