Should the Artist Attend the Audio Mastering Session?

Tips & Tutorials  | 

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Having the artist attend the mastering session can often be useful for both parties, and make for effective and fast communication and decisions. Here are a few things a Mastering Engineer might want to know about the artist (or mix engineer/producer) before the session:

  • How happy are you with the the mix?

  • Is this the first mastering session you have ever attended?

  • Do you have ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) codes?

  • What are all the formats you might possibly use to distribute the audio?

  • What is the song sequence (if not a single track)?

  • What are the proper song titles and album title, including correct spellings?

  • Is there anything unusual about the sound that you like and want to make sure to keep?

This last one is the most interesting and hardest to communicate. Part of the Mastering Engineer's job is to make sure there is nothing out of whack with a mix. If it's too bright or too bassy, too dynamic or too hot on a meter, it can result in unpleasant distortions to the listener.

However, we can take a lot of creative license in music. That's what makes it interesting a lot of the time, so identifying these things is important. Then you can have a dialogue with the Mastering Engineer about what to change or not to change.

It is not absolutely essential that the artist attends the session. It is common for mastering sessions and communications to be dealt with via FTP/dropbox/etc. along with email and telephone, respectively. Providing the sequence, titles, and descriptive notes in advance is done easily enough, but here are some additional tips if you're an artist or producer who would like to attend the mastering session, but can't.

  • Note any questions and concerns you may have. For example, perhaps you feel one song is too quiet, or the vocal is not quite bright enough, or you want a warm and darker master. Let the Mastering Engineer know this, as s/he will otherwise take lead from what s/he is hearing and assume that it is the creative intention of the artist and producer.

  • Send your audio well in advance of the mastering date. This way, the Mastering Engineer can check your files and give a quick listen. In fact, this is worth doing even if you are attending. It gives the mastering engineer time to let you know if s/he can't open a file or is having other technical issues.

  • Schedule a 15-minute chat a day or two before the session. This allows you to have a conversation once the Mastering Engineer has had a listen so s/he can tell you what s/he is imagining s/he might want to change.

  • Provide a phone number, Skype ID (or similar), and email address.

  • Let the Mastering Engineer know how you will be paying for the session if not covered already.

To try iZotope's complete mastering solution on your projects, download Ozone 7.

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