Mastering engineering adds a lot to your final product when it comes to your record. Right now we’re going to identify 3 points of mastering engineering and get a much better understanding of what goes into it and why it is necessary.
First, and this applies to all mastering, but mastering engineering will significantly improve the quality of your audio. While a lot of people make the mistake of believing and assuming that mastering simply raises the volume on your music; the truth is this is just a byproduct of the process. Once a song has been recorded in full and the various tracks which make up that song are mixed together into a final mix, that final mix is sent over to the mastering engineer.
At this stage, the engineer artfully applies plug-ins such as reverb and EQ. These effects ultimately give the track a much more professional and glossy sound with reverb adding more atmosphere to the track and EQ placing emphasis on certain ranges in the mix.
The difference between a master track and on master track is generally very palpable and ideally should be more than just boosting the volume but should really make the audio sound cleaner and crisper. Even just a few tweaks can make your audio sound that much better which is why it’s such an essential final part in audio production.
Mastering engineering isn’t simply an exclusively about correcting and improving the audio itself, however. The second thing which mastering engineering adds to your record is that it creates a complete image for your full record. If you’re planning on sending your completed record off to be replicated into CDs or vinyl records, you need to create that completed file for the record.
The mastering engineer creates this out of the tracks and sets things like spacing in between each track and affects how each song on the record flows into one another. Ultimately the mastering engineer ensures that everything is perfect on that completed album file before it gets sent off for replication at the factory because otherwise if there is some problem such as a particular track doesn’t start when it’s supposed to, this can equal a very costly mistake once you’ve run off some pressing.
Finally, mastering engineering at data to your CD and the files on the CD. This includes the song title and artist information and ISR codes. It even includes things like copyright protection or lyrics to the songs which can be accessed via a computer on a compact disc version of your music.
Ultimately, you can think of audio mastering engineering as being that final step in putting together a much cleaner product for your listeners before it gets sent out. Without it, your audio will not sound nearly as professional and each of your mixes which make up the record will likely jump around being set and recorded at different levels so you need the engineer to tie everything together and that final step of mastering.
One of the final aspects of audio production involves mastering a track and this is typically when the ISRC codes are written to a track or a CD file. Many artists either do not understand what ISRC codes are necessary for and that’s only if they have even heard of the term before.
What Are ISRC Codes For?
An ISRC code is used to track sales of a particular track both for simple reporting purposes as well as ensuring that the owner of that song or better said the writer of that track gets paid the royalties which they deserve for having written that track when a sale is generated.
Each and every song which you write if you are interested in selling your music should have an ISRC code. This data is necessary when writing the data to a track or a CD as well as when you upload your music to a modern online merchandiser such as BandCamp or an online streaming service like Spotify.
Unfortunately there is a cost associated with obtaining ISRC codes for your own music. This comes at a one time cost to you from ADD NAME OF PLACE. Fortunately it is just a one time fee for you to be in their database and for you to obtain your unique code. Once you have your unique code (which consists of your 2 digit/letter country code + a 3 digit/letter unique code for your band/label), you can go ahead and begin creating your own ISRC codes.
A sample ISRC code would be: QM (the current country code for new artists and labels based out of the US)-HMR (a random code assigned to a particular band or label)-12 (to represent the last two digits of the current year when the song was released)-00001 (to represent that this is the first ISRC code created in that year). So once you know your country code and unique code, you can begin creating ISRC codes based on the order in which you release your music.
If you have a new CD with 5 tracks and it is the first thing which you put out that year, your code would be QM-(your unique 3 digit/letter ID)-12-00001.
You may wonder why the country code for the US is QM rather than US. The truth is it used to be US but the number of bands coming out of this country exceeded the number of combinations possible so they transitioned to QM.
You have your unique ID for life and never have to pay to renew your account or anything like that and can create up to 99999 ISRC codes for a given year. Obviously no artist would put out that many songs in a year but some of the largest labels on the planet create codes for every artist on their label using the same unique ID.
Audio mastering is the last part when it comes to music production. Once the artist or band has recorded the various tracks making up a song and the mixing engineer has mixed those tracks together and rendered them down to a final mixed file, that file is handed over to the mastering engineer for the final glossy touch.
While audio mastering is by no means a requirement in music production, it will substantially increase to the overall quality of your finished product so it’s extremely important that you think about having your audio mastered before releasing it to your fans. Many engineers offer free test masters so that you can experience firsthand the benefits of audio mastering without risking a dime beforehand; but this article is designed to inform you of the reasoning behind it.
Basically the benefits of audio mastering are threefold.
Initially, song mastering is essential for improving the overall quality of your music. Even after you have recorded your various tracks using natural as well as perhaps adding some digital effects to improve the sound, the mastering engineer can make use of digital and analog effects and plugins to really bring out the full potential of a song.
The major three effects generally consist of reverb, compression, and EQ. Reverberation first adds a bit more atmosphere to your tracks and can improve a flat sounding record to give it a sound of being recorded in a different and perhaps better space. Compression will give your track more unity from top to bottom without sacrificing the dynamics. EQ is important for emphasizing or diminishing the focus on certain areas or ranges of your audio spectrum over others.
A skilled and consummate audio mastering professional is capable of unlocking a track’s true potential through the artful application of just the right breadth and depth of effects such as these.
Secondly, audio mastering is used to create the finished product in terms of a record. This means putting every song on the record at the same level as every other track on the record, adding important data such as any text/credits/ISRC codes, and creating the sequencing of the record which includes the table of contents for the record, breaks between tracks, etc.
Finally, audio mastering can be used as a final check point so that a fresh set of ears can listen for problems in the audio. Not only can you go back and touch these problems up in the recording phase but the mastering engineer can actually go ahead and cover up and correct problems in the audio. While this is not ideal and certainly is not something which you should rely on, in some cases this can save you a great deal of headache.
Song mastering is much more popular on an individual basis than it once was. In the past, virtually all artists would have their entire record mastered at once and that would include sequencing of the record and making sure everything was at a volume which was in parity with every other song on the record so that when it got sent off to the CD or vinyl replication plant, there would be no issues.
Today, it’s a much different market when it comes to creating music. Many artists will forgo releasing their music and physical format and will stick exclusively to releasing their music in digital format. It’s much easier and it’s much more cost-effective for the artist which is why they do it. So instead of mastering an entire record, song mastering is applied to individual tracks and sometimes artists only put out one or two songs at a time.
They obviously still want to deliver the best sounding product to their fans and listeners, which is why they still go ahead with song mastering but it’s much more cost-effective than the cost of putting together an entire record.
In this case, the only aspect of mastering involved in song mastering is applying effects such as equalization, reverb, and compression to the track to improve the clarity of the song, give the song a sense of unity throughout itself, and to add more of a third dimensional element to the song, respectively. The dynamics of the song are maintained during a good song mastering job in the overall levels are boosted to be on par with that of current and contemporary popular songs.
Music Guy Mastering is currently running a special on individual song mastering at just five dollars per track. You will not find more affordable rates for the amazing level of quality which you’ll receive. If you’re not convinced, I strongly recommend that you receive your free test master of one of your songs right now so that you can experience your music and how good it could be sounding within the hands of the capable engineers at Music Guy Mastering.
Music mastering is the final aspect in music production which occurs after the artist has recorded their music and they or their mixing engineer has turned in a final mix of a song/record. The final mix is turned over to the music mastering engineer and is an incredibly important final aspect before releasing that music to the fans for 3 major reasons.
First, music mastering works to ensure that the overall volume levels of the record are in parity with other contemporary tracks of the time. Music has gotten louder over the years, that’s a fact for better or worse, and if you put out your music at a lower volume than other artists it can be a major annoyance for your fans who are listening to your music, particularly while in a mix with music from other artists. Ultimately it also just comes off as unprofessional, so the audio mastering engineer works to ensure that your music is on par level wise with the industry standards of the day.
Secondly, music mastering involves putting together the finished product for your listeners. This means creating an album which is at unity in terms of levels with itself, adding important data such as ISRC codes, and creating the breaks between tracks on the record in terms of how each track flows into one another as per the artist’s preferences.
Finally and most importantly, music mastering significantly improves the overall quality of your music. Even after the mixing phase has been completed, the mastering engineer can artfully apply analog and digital effects such as compression, EQ, and reverb to bring the overall audio quality of each of your tracks to another level.
Typically artists who are not previously familiar with mastering or have never had any of their music mastered are blown away with the very palpable improvement which a good mastering engineer can contribute to their music. While it’s not ideal, the mastering engineer can even touch up and cover up slight imperfections in your audio such as a clip here or there and bury it in the mix. Again this is not ideal but it just gives you an idea of how much power a skillful music mastering engineer can wield over an otherwise finished track.
If you’re unsure as to whether or not music mastering is right for you then consider getting a free test master before risking any of your money. Most reputable mastering engineers offer this so that the artist can clearly hear and decide for themselves whether or not the engineer is the best fit for them.