If you are interested in hiring someone for their mastering services for work on your music, there are a number of things which you need to consider. This article will identify what you should consider when in the market for mastering services.
First, you need to understand what you want to achieve through audio mastering. You should be ready to answer simple questions like how many tracks you want to be mastered, if you want an album file in the end or if you just want individual tracks to be mastered, and in what format do you need your final image file for your record to be delivered. The latter point refers and relates to CD or vinyl replication.
If you already know where you plan on having your CD or vinyl replicated en masse, find out which format they prefer or work with at that replication plant whether that’s a reference CD or if it’s a DDP image.
Secondly, you should consider your budget. Different engineers charge different rates for their mastering services and while this is generally based on experience or longevity in terms of how long they have been around, because a lot of mastering engineers receive their business largely through word of mouth advertising, you can oftentimes find up-and-coming engineers who have a lot of talent but are not charging a great deal because they’re trying to build their name.
Different engineers also work on a track by track or by an hourly basis. Make sure you are clear on how much are going to be paying before the word has been completed or least have some sort of idea. Ideally the engineer will tell you upfront precisely how much your job will cost after you’ve described being out of work you need done.
You should also make sure that your audio is in an ideal format. Some engineers won’t even work with specific file types such as MP3s. As the saying goes, the better your music going in the better it will be coming out.
Finally, you should always make sure to obtain a free test master from the engineer you go with. This is crucial and obvious because you don’t want to spend money before you know what your music will sound like in the hands of this engineer. Just listening to previous jobs that engineer has performed for other artists is not enough. Any reputable engineer will offer a free test master so that you can sample it before committing to them, so take advantage of that.