Much has been written already about, and I will post further thoughts on, the loudness wars and the continuing fall out.
It is important to note that mixing and mastering are different. The following levels are mixing levels, which aim to provide audio with clarity and sufficient headroom, and it applies to all genres of music and spoken word.
For pop, rock, hip-hop, etc. the target a final mix level is -16 to -18 LUFS. For more classical and jazz pieces, a final mix level of -23 LUFS is recommended. This keeps the dynamics of the song intact and gives plenty of headroom for the mastering engineer to do his part. I provide a quick master of your track that will give and idea of what a mastered version will sound like compared against your reference track. If a different level is desired, please include that in your submission notes.
Note that these levels are independent of compression/limiting/clipping used for musical effect or that make up part of the sound of a genre or your sound as an artist.
Again, mixing levels and mastering levels are generally different and the “mixed” version likely will (and should) sound quieter than a fully mastered track.
Keep in mind that a lot of streaming platforms have instituted automated loudness leveling that can negate the effect of a lot of the high compression and limiting that has characterized the “loudness wars.” A lot of this is still being