Below are 6 tips you can use to ensure a better mastering experience for both you and your mastering engineer.
Following these suggestions will make your mastering experience more fluid, and will prevent avoidable mishaps during the mastering process.
1. Make sure you listen to your master using an unbiased program with no equalization
Every now and then we will have someone ask us to make adjustments to the master version only to find out they are listening to the song using a program with custom EQ settings turned on. This is counterproductive for both artist and mastering engineer. We have noticed that programs like Windows Media Player and iTunes will color the sound. An example of a good program to use when listening to single tracks is Quicktime Player. Whenever possible, be sure your EQ settings are set to FLAT when listening to the finished master recording.
2. Include reference tracks along with your pre-master
It is a great idea to include a reference song along with your pre-master. Even links to Youtube videos are a good idea because it will give the mastering engineer a reference on how to EQ your song in reference to the low frequencies, mid frequencies, and high frequencies. We find that artists who provide links to reference songs in reference to their own song will be satisfied with the master version without the need to make any further adjustments.
3. If you would like silence at the beginning of your song please include it in the pre-master or let your engineer know
Most artists these days are digital artists, and prefer that there be no silence at the beginning of the song. But every now and then we get asked to go back and provide a few seconds of silence at the beginning and end of the song. This is also counterproductive for both artist and engineer. To have it right the first time it is a good idea to let your engineer know when you send your pre-master in.
4. Give a track-listing to your engineer when having multiple tracks mastered at one time
If you’re having multiple tracks mastered to be released on an EP or Album, it is a good idea to give your engineer a track-listing of your project. This will ensure a consistent, fluid flow between songs and will save you from having to go back and make changes. If you find a good engineer, they will automatically do their best to master your songs at the same level. However, having a track-listing helps tremendously.
5. Properly label your songs with artist name and track name
Surprisingly the majority of files we receive are either missing the artist name or track name. As an artist myself, I make sure my files are properly labeled with my artist name and song title so the other person can quickly reference the file after downloading, or if it gets shared my artist name will be there for the other person to see. This make is it difficult for us when adding the id3 tags into the MP3 file as there is no artist or track name. We use the following format for file names – “(Artist – Title (Original/Remix)”. That will help the engineer quickly sort out whats what when receiving files.
6. Make sure your fade in and fade out are proper to avoid having to send in a new mix down
This one is pretty important. We see many times where at the end of the song it finished with a delay, reverb, or echo, etc… and the audio gets chopped off before the effect finishes. To avoid having to send a new mixdown be sure to include the full length of the song until the audio stops completely.
By following these suggestions you will ensure a better experience for both you and your mastering engineer.