MUSIC INDUSTRY NOTES: What to consider in a Mixer Agreement

Published September 21st, 2020 | Kristina Didero

A song is written, the instrumentals are arranged, and now it’s time to get into the studio and record it. Typically the first step is to individually record each instrument playing the song from start to finish so that you end up with a number of different tracks. Next, the music is edited to adjust the tempo, timing, or pitch of any of the performances. Then, the music producer hands the files off to a music mixer who will adjust the levels of the sound and put the tracks together.

The elements of the sound like reverb, compression, volume, and more, are manipulated to create depth, tone, and clarity at this stage. With the expansion in the variety of ways music can be played (i.e. car, laptop, portable speaker, smart home speakers, etc.) it is vital that the mixer ensures the mix can adapt to the formatting of different channels without ramifications to the audio quality. With an experienced mixer in your corner, the music can be fine-tuned so that any change in sound quality from device to device goes unnoticed. Basically, mixers are your best friends.

Mixers are often paid either for the hours they put in or paid per song. However, not often enough is the mixer contracted to gain royalties on the final mix. Some mixers don’t know that they are entitled to ask for them and may even feel that they are undeserved.

But the mixer’s work on a record is a crucial part of the sound and can often make or break the greatness of the music. The mixer has a very important role and we argue it should be normal and expected that they receive royalties on the music they engineer.

With that said, while we are not offering legal advice, here is some guidance on what you might see in a mixing contract:

“Term” – Determines a specific date that the contract becomes valid and under what guidelines the end of the contract is decided.

“Mixing Procedure” – How the music files will be transferred from one party to the other specifying online location to where the files will be uploaded, as well as, file names ahead of time to ensure clarity in delivery. This section also states the maximum number of times the producer can ask the mixer to correct the mix.

“Ownership of Master Recordings” – Affirms who will own the master recording (final product) and other versions of it. Most of the time, if not always, the producing company is the owner, not the mixer.

“Name and Likeness” – The company must give credit to the mixer where credit is due using the pre-approved names and visual representations of the professional.

“Fees and Royalties” – Describes the agreed upon fee and payment for the completion of the project and details how mixer royalties will be calculated.

“Warranties” – Confirms the music created in relation to the contract is all original content and no other copyright will be infringed upon as a result of the master recording.

“Re-Recording Restriction” – The producer has the right to designate other mixers to work on the master recording. If this were to happen, the mixer has the right to remove their name from the credits if they so wish.

“Force Majeure” – In the event that production is halted due to an extraordinary circumstance over which neither party has any control (i.e. accident, fire, labor controversy) the contract extends for the same number of days it was suspended.

“No Partnership or Joint Venture” – Apart from the work on the contracted project, the two parties are not considered partners and do not represent one another.

One last thing! If you are a mixer, make sure you ask for royalties BEFORE you start work on any mix. Now go out there and get what you deserve!

Normandie Records Industry Notes is a resource for music industry, and music business topics.

Kristina Didero is based out of Los Angeles. She is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara. She loves to dance and read self-enrichment books. She’s happy to sit with you till the wee hours of the morning discussing and analyzing life. kristinadidero@yahoo.com