This is a very easy trap to get caught up in. Especially in Pop music where the goal is to “please” your audience. And it’s a very nuanced thing. You “think” the goal is to make, create or mix music that your audience wants to hear. And that’s certainly NOT wrong. If they don’t like it, they’re not going to want to be a part of your audience. You will lose them.
I have a strong belief about success in the music business and I would bet that this is true in any career you choose. You’re either “getting better” or you’re “getting worse”. In other words, there is and should be no state of “I already know what I’m doing and I don’t need to learn anymore”.
Now hear me out. I’m certainly NOT saying that this is something that I want. But in my current obsession with AI, and it’s vast ability to replace many facets of industry (from self driving trucks to Amazon replacing all retail) I can’t ignore the things that can and probably will be able to be duplicated or replicated by computer algorithms. And we can already see it happening.
Mixing is an additive process. Everything affects everything else. You're not mixing in a vacuum or on an island. Because of this, you need to get your tracks to work well with each other. Not to sound great on their own. As much fun as that might be.
There’s a growing trend in “gear talk” these days that it doesn’t matter what gear you buy. It all pretty much sounds the same. That spending thousands on mic preamps or A/D converters is a waste of money. That any $100 interface will be “good enough” and that everyone selling you anything “better” is snake oil or advertising B.S.