I've helped many artists go from local to regional or national scenes in a short time. I specialize in music production, composition, mixing and arrangement.
I specialize in mixing with the goal of maximizing your song's ultimate potential through the use of carefully crafted mixing choices as they relate to the intended vibe and energy of your song. Here are some things that have been said about me recently:
"I love mastering Mark's mixes. Easy to work with and highly musical."- Adam Matza, Owner/Head Mastering Engineer at Magic Ears Mastering
"Mark really knows how to push your music to it's best potential without crushing it to pieces! It will sound great on anything you play it through"-Rob Kingsley, Killmama Guitarist and Head Audio Engineer at Fuzzbaby Records
"Mark is my go to for all things music production... Knowledgable, talented, and great prices; will definitely use in the future!" - Ashley Reda -The Goddamn' Hustle
"Mark was great. Stayed in communication with us throughout the project and really listened to our needs. Highly recommend." - Alexis Amelia, Shotgun Betty
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3 ReviewsEndorse Mark Stephenson
FIVE STARS. Mark is a patient and insightful, with great listening skills and honest enthusiasm. He definitely has your desired end result in mind, every step of the way. In my experience, Mark is primarily focused on getting thesong to sound as big and warm as possible. I've relied on Mark's input on projects for almost a decade now, and look forward to more in the future!
Mark is always a pleasure to work with. He's patient and insightful, with great listening skills. He definitely has your desired end result in mind, every step of the way. In my expeirence, Mark is primarily focused on getting the song to sound as big and warm as possible. I've relied on Mark's input on projects for almost a decade now, and I look forward to many more great music talks and tunes i
Mark was professional, thorough, and responsive. He also gave us a fair rate, and the finished product was fantastic, will be using again.
Interview with Mark Stephenson
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I'm a songwriter, singer, guitarist, bassist myself. I have various musical projects I'm involved in. I bring excellent communication and years of musical knowledge and experience. When I mix, I treat each song as a potential hit- thus there are certainly things I recommend and advise on accordingly. A big one is usually advising on the lead vocal being fairly high in the mix (a lot of emerging artists still favor burying the lead vocal a bit), and that's fine if they specifically want to deny the song a chance to become popular. Unless we're talking about smells like teen spirit, or song #2, the vocals are loud and somewhat legible. I also bring a good deal of creativity where it's called for, so only in the appropriate situations.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I always start by getting some levels of all the different tracks and listening to the song a couple times. Once I start to get a feel for the direction to go in, I begin working with the beat, so in most cases the drums. My goal is usually to is to maximize punch while retaining a natural sound, so for me that often means a pretty hot mix of overhead mics, room mics, general kit sound...unless of course the genre doesn't favor that type of sound, ie: pop rock etc. Next I tend to move to the bass (bass guitar or keyboard, whatever is holding down the low end) and go about getting that locked in with the kick drum. Again, it's all dependent on the song, so these are of course, generalities. Then guitars, keyboards and any other instrumentation. At all points, having a clear objective as to what the final sound of the song will be and making decisions accordingly. Communication with the artist is obviously key in limiting the number of revisions I have to do. After all the music is largely in place, I then begin on crafting the vocal sound. I generally go for full, warm tones and typically put the vocal up front, relatively. Making sure the lyrics become as legible as possible, while also limiting harsh sibilance transients are high on the priority list. Even higher perhaps is what I call "richness of tone", because after all, the lead vocal is typically the focal point of a song, and can usually be heard more than other lead parts. I typically do a good bit of automation on the lead vocal to make sure it sits perfectly in the mix. If it's too far on top of the music, the instruments can start to seem smaller by comparison. The end of a mix is usually about crafting the instrumentation and vocals together, and fine tuning any automation.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What are you plans for the final product- vinyl, digital only release, cd, licensing/sync? What songs/records do you think sound great? What artists do you like?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Communication is key and sometimes a phone call or video chat conversations may be necessary. Also, it's a good idea to have somewhat clear ideas of what you want to accomplish with your project...whether you're looking to market yourself on social media, book a tour, play locally, submit to a publishing company to have music licensed for tv and film etc. And, have a fairly clear idea of what you want your song or group of songs to sound like. Having a few examples of what you like (sound-wise) on hand is a good idea.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Mac, Apollo 16 interface, Custom Stratocaster, Genelec 8350 Studio Monitors, Mogami gold guitar cable.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I attended and graduated Full Sail University in Winter Park Florida in 2001 after a couple years of recording some of my own music. The first studio I worked at is called Mike Conway 24 and 48 track recording, just outside Tampa Bay. I learned as much that first year out of school as I did the whole year in school. I started of mainly tracking hip hop, but slowly got to record local cover bands, and eventually up and coming original bands. After that I went on to work a number of studios on a free-lance basis, as well as my own home studio. I've been mixing and mastering for studios and on a free lance basis for 15 years now.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Always make sure you're finished "demoing out" a song before you attempt to recreate it in pristine, high definition...for keeps. You're typically going to be revising the song one to three times before it's ready to go on an album, so bare that in mind when working with a new song. I know it's tempting to want to get that amazing brand new song you just wrote on to the upcoming album, but trust me on this....DEMO IT OUT!
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I recently mastered an album for a band called Air Knives. The members of this band have all played in some very successful bands, are notoriously picky when it comes to sound and were very happy with the final product. They gave me a 5 star rating on my facebook page, so that was nice.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm producing/mixing/mastering a instrumental rock album.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: not yet, i am new to this format
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both, but at this point, you only need some analog. Tube preamps are important, but running everything through a console is not important unless you have access to a hight end board like an SSL 9000k or something. There are so many digital avenues for giving your sound the warmth and fullness it needs, and companies like Waves, UAD and Slate Digital have been doing this type of modeling for years now. The key to getting a good sound in the digital realm is to really know what you are doing.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: That you will be happy with the finished product. I will make sure of it, completely and absolutely.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love the feeling of watching as someone hears their music in a way they never have before. To see the look on an artist's face when they realize that THIS is the sound they had in their head, and I have just technically achieved it, often for the first time. There are few experiences quite like this.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Can that (insert artifact and/or performance mistake) be fixed in the mix or mastering process?
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That the skill of being a producer or mixing engineer can be attained in a few short years. The fastest I've ever seen somebody become good enough to ensure industry standard quality across varying platforms is around 7 years. Be wary of anyone that has been doing it for less time than that.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Fluid yet Precise. Transparent and Warm.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Chris Walla...he's a genius.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: A good bit of rock (indie, post punk, dreampop, shoegaze mainly) and roots/folk rock and singer songwriter/folk genres.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I would say my ability to elevate a song to it's next level. I'm like the magic johnson of production- it's not about me per se, it's about making everyone else better.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Empirical Labs Distressor Compressor, Universal Audio 1176, Yamaha Hs8s, Sennheiser 380 pro, AKG 214 Condensor Mic, Focusrite Interface, BBE sonic maximizer, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Protools 12, Slate Everything Bundle, Waves Bundle, Fabfilter Bundle, Altiverb And Lexicon Reverbs, Izotope Rx and Ozone 7, all powered by my Macbook Pro that is connected to a flatscreen tv monitor.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Butch Vig, Steve Albini, Steve Lillywhite, Brian McTear, Lou Barlow, Ben Gibbard, Andrew Futral, J Mascis, Doug Martsch, Vic Bondi, Tom Petty, I could go on for days about this.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Mixing, mastering, producing, editing/arranging as well as home studio recording consultation (helping clients better understand how to get the most out of their home studio recordings).