Just wanted to chime in on the subject of production versus strictly mixing...
I do a fair bit of recording, which I mix, and I get a lot of projects that have been recorded by musicians in their home studios. In both situations, I take on the role of 'producer' to some degree, suggesting ideas, giving my perspective on things, etc. I think that getting outside input on a project is one thing that home-recordists are missing, and it's one reason so many self-produced projects are kind of flat sounding, kind of one-dimensional. Sometimes a band vetoes my more experimental ideas, but I think it always opens their eyes a little to what is possible. So far, I haven't worked with too many bands that are aiming for commercial radio (mostly punk, indie, etc, though I'm sure they would love to have some mainstream success!) but I always try to get a result that their fans will connect with, that makes a bridge between the band and the fan with as little interference as possible.
I think Mike took on a Herculean task here, and deserves major thanks from all of us. Selecting the finalists from a field of entrants is always going to be controversial, of course. I think if the band chooses a favorite, we all have to accept that, since it's their music! But Mike's selections are important, as he has the perspective of a pro, and his choices reflect that.
We all have things to learn, and this contest has been a great opportunity to see that, not only on our own critiques, but on the aggregate critiques. The tracks themselves had some shortcomings, but nothing out of the ordinary, if my experience is typical. And trying to satisfy several judges is nothing unusual, even when working with just the band (no label, etc.) It's not uncommon to have one or two members loving the crazy edit, while the others nix it.
I hope to have some more contests in the near future, though I don't know that we'll get another judge with the dedication of Mike!