This article serves to advise you on what to expect from a mastering engineer as well as the steps they take to best serve you and your music.
A good mastering engineer will ask the necessary questions they need to in order to understand your intentions. The better they understand your ambitions, the more they can help you realise them. Professional engineers know the ropes and can often provide advice well beyond their remit. They may even be able to point you in the direction of useful people and resources.
The better the production, the better the mix, the better the master. They can only work with what you provide them with. So it’s very useful, and sometimes essential, that they give you any necessary feedback to ensure that the masters are of the highest possible quality.
The earlier you get the mastering engineer involved, the better. Many artists leave this way too late. If they have some crucial feedback about the mix, it makes things difficult if you brought them on last minute and have only a day until release.
We’ve touched on this, but QC is a big part of why people pros. It’s not uncommon for a mastering engineer to find themselves removing clicks and other issues from the mix(es). Fortunately, today’s tools such as Izotope RX make a lot of this possible.
Production of masters
This is literally what they do. They create masters. The masters being the files you upload to platforms. Their job is to make these for you, optimise them, and make sure they have all of the information embedded into them.
As a service provider, it’s the mastering engineer’s duty to follow up with you. Expect them to stay in touch after they have done the service. A good ME will take a keen interest in you and your music.
If you have hired a mastering engineer before, then please feel free to share your experience in the comments.
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Christopher Carvalho runs Unlock Your Sound helping up-and-coming indie artists create and strategically release their music.