Frequently Asked Questions about Music Mastering
For every song, you get at least one revision, 4 stereo output files, some free bonuses, and a warm ear ready to listen to your concerns. Check here for all the details.
You’ll probably love my first pass, but you also get 1 additional session recall FREE of charge (2 with Stem Mastering). In other words, after I deliver your first file, for no extra charge I will make any changes you want and then output your masters. If you need anything further after this, it’s no problem, we'll add extra requests at the final invoice stage.
Work with me because you want the care that an experienced producer can bring to your music.
Because you like the before/after differences you heard in my track list (home page).
Because you want to partner with someone who is open and honest with you, and will help you identify issues with your tracks that could keep them from reaching their potential.
Because you want someone to take the time to understand and enhance the tone, groove, and texture you're going for.
And about 40 other reasons....
I don't always have time for mixing projects but I offer a hybrid called Stem Mastering. I take up to 5 of your mix group outputs (say drums, bass, instruments, background vocals, and lead vocal for example).
I create a final mix from these stems in my treated room. This allows me to correct dial in balances, fix the frequency issues of small studios, etc.
Then I master the mix as usual. Choose 'Stem Mastering' in the checkout for any tracks that might benefit from this level of attention.
Mastering prepares one or many files into a cohesive-sounding product ready for duplication and distribution. It tries to ensure that the music will sound as good as possible on whatever flavor of playback system it might encounter, from a mono speaker in a pickup truck, to a set of earbuds, to a hi-fi home system, to a large public address (PA) system.
Mixing blends multiple instrument tracks into a stereo 2-track (2 = left and right). This is often challenging, time-consuming, and very subjective. Many artists these days prefer to achieve their own balances and arrangements by mixing their own music. They then engage an experienced mastering engineer to fix small issues and ensure the mix will translate well.
Mastering comes at the end of a long chain of audio processing that I have no control over. Be careful and conservative with the entire signal path of every track in your mix to keep it as simple and pristine as possible. Every processing stage is somewhat "destructive" (even if it sounds better at the time) and oftentimes "less is more."
Some tips: Get your tones upfront during recording. Avoid digital clipping at all costs. Avoiding all unnecessary sample rate conversions (watch for plugins that upsample!). See our complete tips here.
I've set it up so everything is automated through my website (just for efficiency). Of course, I'm always here to talk.
The most important thing you can do is to prepare your mixes according to my guidelines. This is vital if you want the best sounding tracks I can create for you. Also have all your metadata ready, and triple-check that you've entered it in the order forms 100% correct to the letter.
Delivery will be completely digital so you can be anywhere in the world to receive the files. Of course you're welcome to come meet me in person too. I'd like that.
No problem! I will need to start over, of course, to ensure you get the best master. There is an additional charge of about half the Standard Mastering rate for this, but I'm happy to do whatever gets you the best master.
I understand most artists are anxious to get their tracks finished as quick as possible. I offer a Rush service, but I suggest using it only if really necessary for a hard deadine.
I work best when I have at 2-3 days turnaround for a project. It gives me time to make multiple passes and rest my ears between critical listening, and this means better masters. So it's really up to you and your schedule. I will accommodate your deadlines.
After you select the services you need, do the checkout dance, and fill out the order forms, an UPLOAD box will magically appear to receive your files. Alternatively you can paste in a link to wherever the files are located online.
METADATA: Some mastering engineers no longer offer this, but YES, I can encode the hidden metadata into your audio masters. It's so important for ownership tracking (and getting paid from music licensing) that I am happy to do it now for you than rely on your distributor to do it later, but of course it's up to you.
For this reason, PLEASE ensure all artist, track, etc. spelling is correct to the letter! Alternatively, if your CD duplicator or online distributor offers this service instead (CDBaby, TuneCore, SongTradr, CoSynd, Ditto, DistroKid, etc) then just let me know if you want me to refrain.
COPYRIGHT: The deal with copyright is basically that any original work is copyrighted as soon as it's recorded in a mechanical form (e.g., writing sheet music or recording a song). However, if there is ever a dispute, it's up to you to prove time of origin.
If you register your works with copyright.gov within 3 months of their creation, you really put the law on your side. You create clear proof of ownership and receive real legal benefits such as collecting for attorney's fees if someone ever steals your work and you need to go to court.
Since there is a fee for individuals to register copyrights, I suggest registering multiple tracks at once as a "Collective Work." This keeps the cost per track relatively low.
ISRC: These song codes are very important for tracking royalties if your music is going to streaming, licensing, or duplication. Aggregators/distributors like SongTradr, Tunecore, CDBaby and Cosynd can generate ISRC codes for you. Or I can embed them into your metadata if you have them before mastering is finished. If you ARE going with one of these types of services, it's a free service, and I recommend you use their online robots for accuracy. They can also be added later by your duplicator (for physical products).
UPC: Physical records and CDs need a UPC code to track sales. First check with your distributor (like CDBaby) who can often generate these for you at lower cost, as well as CD duplication houses. But beware of whether the UPC is for internal or worldwide usage. For example, here is the recent (2020) advice from DistroKid:
"DistroKid UPCs are for digital distribution within DistroKid. If you want to apply for a UPC issued by GS1, please contact your local GS1 office here."
Yes. A vinyl master has different requirements (the sonics are different) than digital so I offer it as an add-on to your digital master order. I currently do not offer vinyl service alone. You'll see this option under Extra Services in the checkout. Just add it to the cart to get the process started.
With vinyl, song sequence is important, as a record's frequency response changes based on how close to the center a song is placed. When you order this option I will be contacting you for details.
Of course. Your music goes nowhere, except in my mastering program, until you get it back. Then all I ask of you is to be able to use short clips of select songs (never a full track) for my portfolio, and your promotion.
I'm currently in "The Creative Capital" of Providence, RI USA just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. However, my musical experience comes from years in the New York rNb, hiphop, and electronic music worlds, as well as playing in and recording bands, jazz groups, and classical ensembles on both coasts.
You're welcome to attend your mastering session, although it is sometimes broken up over several mini-sessions (to compensate for ear fatigue). Sessions are limited to one person only, or both members of a duo.
Yes, for new clients who have never worked with me and who want some reassurance (and have the extra time), I will do a small test excerpt for you (maybe a verse and a chorus). Reach out to me, let me know your concerns.