Mastering Guidelines

What I need from you:

1. Your finished mixes
a. exported at whatever sample rate you recorded in (44.1kHz minimum, 48/96kHz even better) and 32-bit float (yes, even if you recorded at 24 bit)

b. in a lossless audio format. WAV preferred but AIFF and FLAC are fine as well

c. sent together in a .zip file through WeTransfer to austin@bravesound.org (easiest way). Google Drive/Dropbox is fine too but please be sure you grant me permissions to access the files.

*Please bypass/remove any limiting you may have on your master bus for volume purposes. At least -1dBTP of headroom (more is even better) is appreciated as well.* If you used a professional mixing engineer, they should do this automatically.

If you have questions about what any of this means, feel free to send me an email. This article (and/or your DAW’s manual) may help explain some as well: https://blog.landr.com/export-tracks-daw/

2. 1-3 reference tracks
a. in similar genre
b. lean towards what you consider to be a great sounding mix more so than your favorite song
b. in a high-quality lossless audio format (WAV, AIFF, FLAC) if at all possible.

This blog may help you if you’re lost: https://www.izotope.com/en/learn/4-popular-mixing-reference-tracks-and-why-they-work.html

3. Metadata for all tracks. This is what allows iTunes and similar media players to read an audio file and immediately pull up the album cover, artist name, song title, album, etc. Metadata makes your masters identifiable, searchable, and discoverable… very important. If you do not have all this information yet, you can add it yourself at a later date (it’s not too hard!).

And a helpful blog that shows most commonly used metadata and illustrates its importance and function:
https://blog.landr.com/music-metadata/

For those doing this yourself (or editing later on), you can use free software like mp3tag on Windows (https://www.mp3tag.de/en/index.html) or kid3 for Mac and Linux (https://kid3.kde.org/). Just a reminder that spelling, capitalization, and extra spaces can cause issues! Double, triple check!

Final note on this, streaming services typically take the metadata you provided to your digital distributor while software media players like iTunes and Windows Media Player take their metadata from the ID3 tags embedded on the files themselves.

4. Any additional requests or details you would like us to know about your music.

You can expect masters from me to:

a. Not change the character or integrity of your mix! Mastering is a subtle art. I do not aim to impart my sonic footprint onto your mix but rather focus on removing problem frequencies, improving the track’s overall punch and feel, repairing clicks and artifacts, gluing and balancing, and then if needed, add a touch of saturation, color, and/or tape to sweeten the deal.

b. Sound great and “sit” well on a large variety of speaker systems, headphones, and listening environments. This can only be accomplished in a carefully tuned, flat listening setting with mastering-grade tools.

c. Be an ending. I believe mastering means giving you *finished* products. Files you can share, upload, and play without needing to adjust anything. This is why I input client’s metadata for them, I adjust the space between tracks so the album flows well as a whole, and do all I can to give your project finality.

For my $50 per track base-rate you will receive:

High-resolution 48kHz 24bit lossless masters for streaming service distribution. They will be leveled with the highest quality tools I have available to -16 to -14 LUFS -1dBTP. This setting will sound great on all major streaming services and will not clip or distort.

320 kbps MP3 files for day-to-day listening (or 256kpbs AAC files if you prefer)

For $10 more per track (included free when mastering 6 tracks or more):

Ultra high-resolution 96kHz 32bit lossless masters for audiophile listening.

44kHz 16bit lossless masters for CD distribution.

For the most scrupulous, I can also provide a separate master for each particular streaming service for $10 per additional streaming service, per track. The settings I mentioned above are widely considered to be most universally compatible for online distribution, but indeed each streaming service has their own requirements.

Finally, for $5 per track, I will include digital masters for vinyl pressing. This would be a pre-mastering service. Your cutting engineer will dictate the final volume and will likely make additional changes.