Why master your music? Everything I wish I’d known
I spent months mixing my first album – I thought it would change my life. So when I finished, I sent my tracks to a renowned mastering engineer.
It cost $1,000. He gave me the indie rate.
I was beyond excited. But after the first listen, I felt a little defeated. It wasn’t as different as I expected, and some parts were squished where I expected them to boom.
Remastering wasn’t really an option.
It cost a lot of money for something I didn’t really understand, and wasn’t sure it worked.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS MASTERING?
In the days before digital, mastering was largely about duplication (remember vinyl and tape?). But as technology progressed, and digital recording became the standard, mastering has evolved into fine-tuning how your music sounds.
Still, it’s an often misunderstood—kinda complicated—sometimes confusing artform…
Mastering is all about making your tracks sound as good to everyone else, as they do to you – smoothing out the wrinkles of your final mix without losing the character that makes your music yours.
Using a combination of tools like tasteful compression, EQ, limiting, stereo enhancement plus other tricks like aural excitation – mastering is the glue, varnish and polish that makes your music presentable to the world.