About “too attractive” mastering deals (and competition in the field)


I haven’t written that much about mastering (aside from the somewhat exhaustive post about the process for me), so I wanted to write a few words about very attractive mastering prices and competition in the field. As I’ve been entering the field myself, I’ve seen a lot competition, stories about really low prices, crazy package deals, and some of that classic “My mate does it for a few pounds and a hot dog”.

Recently, another potential client got in touch with me and said he needs some songs mastered. He had got a quote from another mastering studio: 8 pounds per song. That’s not a lot. That’s roughly 11 EUR.
You can go for that by all means, but I can guarantee those probably won’t come out sounding as strong as commercial releases. In this field, no-one who actually knows how to make professional results does it for that cheap. Sure, you could fool a less trained ear of a client by just pushing it loud, but those who can listen and compare, you can’t fool those types of clients.
It might be interesting to have the same song mastered by ”an insanely cheap guy” and someone who a lot of people seem to trust. We all know who does a better job.

A friendly word of caution about attractively-priced package deals: it’s usually best to not commit to a package price before you are absolutely sure they can deliver the quality you want. One shouldn’t pay beforehand; personally, I’ve never charged a client beforehand – not even when they’ve wanted to pay me before I start (it’s just because I don’t like getting paid before I’m done; it’s a psychological thing. I don’t like the reward before the job’s finished and been done as well as possible. I’m willing to work on the most difficult premaster till it’s as good as it can possibly be – I take those jobs as challenges because I love what I do).

What you should understand when giving your song to someone for mastering is that not anyone can handle your song. For example: someone that’s a long-time pro in mastering movies may not necessarily understand the parameters and the desired impact of contemporary bass music (we have two extremes there: very dynamic material vs very heavy-hitting and limited).

Especially insanely cheap package deals should make you cautious. Those who push prices as low as mentioned above are either not experts in what they do (they are just using a quick mastering preset, call it done, and charge you no matter what) or it’s an automated process (such as Landr, whose prices are really low but their results are not precise, not made by a human). A computer can analyse a graph and correct/match it, but it cannot listen and go beyond the EQ graph correction.
It needs a human being very, vary familiar with the genre in question and a very good listening environment to make your song as strong as it can be. The person with the best possible tools may not handle your song the right way if he doesn’t know exactly how it’s supposed to sound. There are so many variables in sound and each particular song that you simply cannot run it thru a preset or an existing, already-tweaked chain (or you can, but it will sound bad).

Me, I specialize in bass music (D&B/jungle, dubstep, trap) and related styles (hip hop, downtempo, techno/house) and have also treated other styles when a reference song has been provided. I can claim I listen with attention. A lot. I have been listening to this music for over 20 years now, so I suppose I’ve done my homework in that field. And I’m still learning and willing to learn and be as good as I can, for this music is my passion.

I do give batch discounts depending on the number of songs. See here for prices.
Those willing to get familiar with the service and submit a bigger package, I’ll be happy to master one song “for free” in such way that I master it and send you a one-minute clip of its busiest section. You only pay for it if you want the whole song, and then we’ll rock the batch.
Also, I never charge a client unless they’re happy anyways, and, e.g., this year I’ve mastered somewhere over 250 songs (I’ve lost count), and not one client has been unhappy. To be frank, I have received lots of very hyped comments even from professional producers.

Mastering has become my business and I take healthy pride in it and just want to advise people a little bit so the music they’ve spent a whole lot of time on does not end up in the wrong hands.

Got questions? Get in touch.