Frequently Asked Questions about Music Mastering
Every song gets a preview output, at least one additional revision, a stereo output of your choice, and a warm ear ready to listen to your concerns and achieve your vision. Additional features are a la carte to better serve your budget. Check here for all the details.
You’ll probably love my first pass, but I also provide one additional session recall FREE of charge (2 with stem mastering jobs).
Here's how it goes: First I deliver a quick initial test output to make sure all tracks are present and that I'm going in the right direction. We'll chat, then I'll go back and do a proper first mastering pass for you.
We'll chat again and I'll incorporate any additional changes you want. Then you'll receive your masters within a couple of days.
If you need anything further after this, it’s no problem, you can order extra requests on the Order page.
Work with me because you want the care and perspective that an experienced, multi-genre player and producer can bring to your music.
Or because you really like the sound of my before/after samples.
Or because you want someone to take the time to understand the tone, groove, and texture you're going for.
Or because you want to partner with someone who will not just take your money and add you to the list. I'll be open and honest with you, and will help you identify issues that could keep your tracks from reaching their potential. I have a naturally helpful nature and I will help you level up in some way.
Feel free to ask me. I don't always have time for mixing projects but I do offer a hybrid called Stem Mastering where I will mix 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 dial in balances, fix frequency issues common to small studios, and get them properly ready for mastering. Then I master the mix as usual.
Choose 'Stem Mastering' on the Order page for any tracks that might benefit from this kind of attention.
Mastering prepares a 2-track (stereo) mix into a great 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. This is challenging, time-consuming, and very subjective. Artists often prefer to achieve their own balances and arrangements by mixing their own music or by hiring a dedicated mix engineer. Then I suggest engaging an experienced mastering engineer to ensure the mix will sound its best and 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.
Rates for custom mastering are updated here on the services page.
Any order with 5 or more tracks gets an automatic 10% discount. Refer a friend and I'll give you an additional discount.
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. A lot of my musical experience comes from 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.
Since you're not familiar with the sound of my room (it's very different, very clinical), you're better off letting me work alone and then hearing the results on a system you know. Your feedback will be much more valuable to me that way. But I'd love to meet up in person at the start or end of our session.
Yes, I don't advertise this but, I will do a rough pass for new clients who have never worked with me and who want some reassurance. Submit a small excerpt here (maybe a verse and a chorus). Be sure to let me know the intended delivery medium, your vision, and your concerns.