How to master the mix with Tom Frampton

Music Production expert Tom Frampton give us his essential advice for success in the studio...
tom-frampton-interview

Music production expert Tom Frampton is the brains behind Mastering the Mix, an audio plugin company offering a range of mastering tools designed to get your music sounding better than ever. 

Tom's plugins have helped countless top music producers solve the hardest problems they face when mixing and mastering music.

Now it's the turn for ICMP students as Mastering the Mix has teamed-up with ICMP to offer these fantastic tools to our students.

The full suite of plugins are now installed in all of our studio and production rooms. Students are also able to access a complimentary one year licence to the Expose tool and can take advantage of 25 percent off the full range of plugins, simply by using their ICMP email account for sign-up. Students, full details are sitting in your student inbox!

Get to know Tom and his essential music production tips below...

How did you begin your musical journey? 

As a three year-old, I would lay out the cushions and hit them with wooden spoons. This was the start of a full-on obsession with drumming. I was grade eight at the age of 14 and ended up getting a BMus degree in Popular Music Drum Performance and Music Technology at the London College of Music. It wasn’t a single person or record per-say, just a love for all things musical that never subsided.

What attracted you to the world of mixing and mastering?

I love the combination of focus and artistry associated with mixing and mastering. It requires 100 percent of your attention. It’s super fulfilling to listen to something you’ve transformed from a work in progress to a great sounding finished track. Mixing and mastering are hard, and being able to do it as a professional requires an insane amount of practice. So, when a client receives their master back from me, the response is often along the lines of “wow, how did you do that?”. It’s great to be able to give people that experience and have creative and focussed fun along the way.

How important is music education in inspiring the next generation of producers and artists?

Music education is essential for anyone serious about making it as a professional. There are so many factors at play when you’re making music that if you’re not well informed, your music will suffer and you won’t hit your goals."

You've enjoyed some great success as an audio engineer with the likes of Tiesto, David Guetta, and Steve Aoki. How did you end up working with these stars? And what did you learn from these experiences?

Having a great network of people in the industry is key to getting high-profile clients. Self-managed audio engineers are all trying to sell their services, so I would certainly recommend reading some sales books (my favorites being 'The Ultimate Sales Machine' by Chet Holmes and 'The Secrets Of Closing The Sale' by Zig Ziglar). The information in these books will help people seal the deal when it’s most important. From these experiences and being an audio engineer, in general, I’ve learned that you need to be ready for as many possible scenarios in a session as possible. What I mean by that is that you need to be able to solve any audio issue that can come up. Having enough mastery over the craft to get any result you need is crucial to success.

How did you come to develop your plugins? And which artists are using them?

Mastering The Mix started as a mastering service. I noticed that the majority of my clients suffered from the same technical issues when working on their tracks. I wanted to try and help as many people as possible to get better sounding mixes and I knew that going down the software route was the only way to solve that on scale. I teamed up with a developer to create LEVELS and we never looked back. Today we continue to work together to solve the biggest problems that music producers face. Our plugins are used by countless chart-topping producers and engineers including Rik Simpson (Coldplay), James F Reynolds (Calvin Harris, BTS), Funkagenda, Shaunk Frank, Dada Life, Dirty South, Focus… (Dr. Dre) and loads more.

The market for music tech is a busy one - how do you stand out from the crowd?

It certainly is! We focus on creating plugins that solve problems in a unique way. For example, our plugin REFERENCE allows producers to get their songs closer than ever to the sound of their favourite mixes. It does this by helping the user sculpt the tonal balance based on how the human ear perceives the power of the frequency spectrum in various bands. Accurate level matching also allows the user to be honest with themselves that they’re making positive progress with their mix. 

Our plugin LEVELS allows people to keep an eye on the technical details of their mix without being pulled out of their creative zone. LEVELS will alert the user if there is a technical issue that requires their attention by turning one of the six sections from green to red. If all six sections are green, the user can continue in their creative flow.

What is the secret to effectively mixing a track?

Knowing the production process inside out and being ready for any mixing hurdle.

You have to know what your goal is for the track and know which tools will help you get there. Discerning what is actually making your track sound better is also crucial to a great final result." 

Getting a great balance, then level matching after adding processing help you be honest with yourself about what is helping and what is harming your track.

For any aspiring audio engineers, what would you advise them?

Commit to finishing tracks as they are your greatest asset. You can’t monetize an unfinished track and it won’t grow your career. Be honest with yourself with the areas that require improvement and don’t shy away from learning. 

What's your top tip for sustaining a career from music?

Grow your audience and network. Be persistent and smart with how you work. You’re only as good as your last project, so make sure you give everything you’ve got every time.

What new pieces of music technology are you most excited by?

Anything that makes the music making process experience more immersive. One of our plugins BASSROOM (to be released in June 2019) will help audio engineers and music producers shape their low frequencies in a 3D space. To increase gain you pull the frequencies towards you, to decrease the gain you push the frequencies away from you. This is more in line with how we experience sound in the real world as opposed to knobs and horizontal EQs. 

What does the future have in store for you and Mastering The Mix?

Our driving goal is to help music producers get better sounding mixes. So we’ll continue to focus on creating plugins that solve the biggest challenges that music producers face. 

Visit masteringthemix.com for more information.

Learn Music Production at ICMP London

If you're interested in developing your music production skills, learning from our regular industry guests and collaborating within the vibrant ICMP creative community, then speak to our Admissions Team. They're on hand to help you find the right course that matches your ability and aspirations.

Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk and start your music career today.

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by Jim Ottewill
June 13, 2019
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