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stevens119
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18th October 2010
Old 18th October 2010
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Single Song Mastering

So, I'm curious. As a songwriter, sometimes I have a cool song with a nice mix that sounds good. But I always want it to sound a little better. It would be nice to have it mastered better than I can do myself. Which is generally acceptable, but sometimes I just wish it was perfect, before I walk into someone's office and play it for them. Not to mention, I just don't have all that nice tube gear, and mastering eq's and stuff. Everything would be mixed ITB. I realize that most Mastering engineers do albums. Their whole operations are basically set up to Master albums. So if you want a single song done their price shoots through the roof and it's like $200 a song. Then they want to charge you for the ref's and masters and all that. My question is, are there any really good mastering places out there that charge a decent price by the song, instead of by the hour, or by the album? That can do stuff through the internet? Thanks
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18th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevens119 View Post
are there any really good mastering places out there that charge a decent price by the song, instead of by the hour, or by the album? That can do stuff through the internet? Thanks
About a million of them... so you need to do a good market research
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18th October 2010
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Originally Posted by stevens119 View Post
I just don't have all that nice tube gear, and mastering eq's and stuff. Everything would be mixed ITB.


thumbsup.

If you want it to sound better than mix it better. Things shouldn't really be left to the mix to make it better, but leaving it to the master?

If you want your songs to sound better, look up all the literature that is mentioned on the many mix threads and read up on them and experiment with them yourself. But don't expect a master to make an average song sound good, likewise a mix cannot make a poorly recorded sound sound polished.

Save your money and work on improving your technique. Is it solo work that you are doing?
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18th October 2010
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The songs are mixed fine, and they aren't average songs. I'm not trying to save anything...I just wish to slightly enhance. To gain just a little edge before playing it for my record label or publisher, or before they may play it for others. The pricing isn't a direct issue. I just don't wish to be charged high rates for a song, as I know ME's usually do. If the mix was not good, or the song wasn't, then why would I take it to be mastered in the first place? The purpose of mastering is to get it to sound a little better. According to your statement, if everybody "Mixed it better", than we wouldn't need Mastering Engineers, would we? Mastering engineers do fulfill a purpose. It's making what you already have, even cooler.
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18th October 2010
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Yes, Many colleagues as well as myself have fixed prices for singles. Do them all the time. No charge for a master disc, etc...

You can get great mastering for half that rate with no"extra" charges... just look around a bit.

If the mastering doesn't enhance your song then you shouldn't be charged for it... any decent mastering engineer will tell you if there are thing that need to be corrected in the mix to make the final product that much better. After all it should be about "the song", not the technical process behind the song!

Good luck in your search.
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18th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevens119 View Post
Then they want to charge you for the ref's and masters and all that. My question is, are there any really good mastering places out there that charge a decent price by the song, instead of by the hour, or by the album? That can do stuff through the internet? Thanks
The easiest thing for you would be to ask for free demo's of the particular song. So you can choose the best one and then charge the ME who did the best.

You can start right here, upload the song and ask the kind people here for their free demo's.
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18th October 2010
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Unfortunately, I can't just upload any of the songs here. The voices may be recognizable to some, and I honestly don't need any demos floating around of songs that may be released in the future. I will look and ask around, thanks for everybody's help.
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18th October 2010
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Originally Posted by echoRausch View Post
The easiest thing for you would be to ask for free demo's of the particular song. So you can choose the best one and then charge the ME who did the best.

You can start right here, upload the song and ask the kind people here for their free demo's.
This is total BS... if you are a professional you get paid. You don't have the mechanic fix the car and then "see if you like it" or "who fixed it best".

Any professional will not master your songs and then "hope to be the one you pick", a professional KNOWS what they are doing and should get paid accordingly.

It's usually the wanna-be's that do this so tread with caution as you might just get someone who is starting out and "shooting in the dark".

Again... good luck.
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18th October 2010
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Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
This is total BS... if you are a professional you get paid. You don't have the mechanic fix the car and then "see if you like it" or "who fixed it best".

Any professional will not master your songs and then "hope to be the one you pick", a professional KNOWS what they are doing and should get paid accordingly.

It's usually the wanna-be's that do this so tread with caution as you might just get someone who is starting out and "shooting in the dark".

Again... good luck.
This customer knows best culture does grate a little.
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18th October 2010
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Lots of people charge per song, the rates vary depending on equipment and experience, my advice is to find who mastered singles you like the sound of, email them and ask if they do single tracks via online file transfer (99 times of 100 they will) and if they are out of your price range, ask politely if they know anyone up and coming in their particular field (99 times of 100 they will).
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18th October 2010
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Originally Posted by stevens119 View Post
So if you want a single song done their price shoots through the roof and it's like $200 a song. Then they want to charge you for the ref's and masters and all that.
Without mentioning names, there are several professional ME's who will charge around 100-150 per song if you don't want a production copy, CD text, etc. You can often also save money with a file transfer instead of physical disk.

One of the ME's I'm thinking of lives in your state too!

There are a few ME's who only charge by the hour, and it would be $400-$500 for a single. I would guess they feel it's not worth their time since they are booked in advance with album projects. However I think it's safe to say those are the minority. I would also go out on a limb and suggest if it's a single I would question the value of paying that much for a single unless you just want to list the name in your credits.
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19th October 2010
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Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
This is total BS... if you are a professional you get paid. You don't have the mechanic fix the car and then "see if you like it" or "who fixed it best".

Any professional will not master your songs and then "hope to be the one you pick", a professional KNOWS what they are doing and should get paid accordingly.
Almost every professional offers a free demo.

Even if you "are knowing what you are doing" you will not know exactly the customers taste, especially if working unattended.

For mastering a single song the options for the ME are endless, the ME will probably do something he likes but this could be something the customer doesn't like much.

So demo'ing is the best way for the OP to look for an ME who has a similar taste and a suitable processing chain so he does the things the OP is looking for on his own.

If I was the OP I would do it this way, send out the song without further information and let the ME's do what they want to do. The one I like most I would choose to work with, with further instructions.

If you're so "professional" you don't want to demo you don't have to. Nobody is forced to demo. You can simply reject it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greggybud View Post
There are a few ME's who only charge by the hour, and it would be $400-$500 for a single.
Jesus! How many hours will some people spend on just one song? Every "professional" who "knows what he's doing" should be able to get (very) good results for just one (1!) song within at least one hour.

Or are you working on an album for several weeks?
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19th October 2010
Old 19th October 2010
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Originally Posted by stevens119 View Post


The purpose of mastering is to get it to sound a little better.


Mastering engineers do fulfill a purpose. It's making what you already have, even cooler.

Not necessarily, or in all cases.

With respect to all, mastering has traditionally been about getting a group of songs to sit well together, and to translate well on a variety of playback systems. Its certainly not unheard of for the original mixed track to sound better to you all on its own [at least in some sense] than the mastered version. A song may be remastered [differently] if it is, for example, placed on a compilation with different songs than the group of songs it was originally released with.

There is such a thing as mastering one song, I guess. People do release singles without having a whole album in the can. Or maybe you don't ever intend for your song to be on an album with other songs.

But I can see how some are interpreting your post as a request for someone to "fix your mix", by "running it through some fancy analog gear".

If you just want someone to make your track super loud, then you may be disappointed in the way it sounds compared to the original with the volume knob turned up.

I guess you should just realize that you will probably need to have the song[s] remastered if it / they become part of an album.

Also, you seem overly concerned about price. If you are down for having individual songs mastered before you even complete the album, you probably have to be o.k. with some additional expense. Even if someone just "fixes your mix" by running it through their fancy analog gear, you are still going to get charged for mastering.
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19th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echoRausch View Post
Almost every professional offers a free demo.

Even if you "are knowing what you are doing" you will not know exactly the customers taste, especially if working unattended.

For mastering a single song the options for the ME are endless, the ME will probably do something he likes but this could be something the customer doesn't like much.

So demo'ing is the best way for the OP to look for an ME who has a similar taste and a suitable processing chain so he does the things the OP is looking for on his own.

If I was the OP I would do it this way, send out the song without further information and let the ME's do what they want to do. The one I like most I would choose to work with, with further instructions.

If you're so "professional" you don't want to demo you don't have to. Nobody is forced to demo. You can simply reject it.



Jesus! How many hours will some people spend on just one song? Every "professional" who "knows what he's doing" should be able to get (very) good results for just one (1!) song within at least one hour.

Or are you working on an album for several weeks?
All my colleagues don't offer a "free demo"... that would be Calbi, Ludwig, Grundman, etc... No professional would as you simply don't have the time... and usually have a proven track record so people can hear your work. As far as I can tell it's only people trying to break in the business that usually offer free demos... and usually NOT for a single!

As for the "OP knowing what he's looking for"... most of my new customers have no idea what mastering brings to the table or what they are looking for. Some seasoned pro's have no idea either. The trained mastering professional can listen to a song and almost immediately know what needs to be done and how to do it. It comes from years of dealing with all types of music and mixes. No short cuts here kiddies, this is something only learned after years of doing it everyday, day in and day out.

Mastering is about the song, period end of story. Serving the song to make it more enjoyable for the listener. Not about making it louder. It's about bringing out the "musical" elements in the song and how the highs, mids and lows are represented. It's about impact, dynamic and subtlety. It's about getting the emotion or feel through to the listener. It's about making instruments sound natural and vocals sound great. It's to enhance the final product.

I'm booked 4 weeks in advance at all times... that said I slip singles in all the time. I like doing singles, some don't... so they charge more to "not have to do them".

As someone else pointed out there are some great professional mastering engineers right in your back yard that can handle this work. You should be able to get a single mastered for 100.00 to 150.00 depending.

Good luck in your quest...
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19th October 2010
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Quote:
No professional would as you simply don't have the time...
In my experience, that's not true. It shouldn't be taken advantage of - nothing should - but it's not true.


Quote:
Not about making it louder.
Mastering can be and often is about making it louder, and doing it well. Maybe a touch of eq here, a touch of compression there - but turn it up? Yeah, turn it up.

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19th October 2010
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Musicians that drop names like this are usually a drag to play with.




In my experience, that's not true. It shouldn't be taken advantage of - nothing should - but it's not true.




Mastering absolutely can be and often is about making it louder, and doing it well. Maybe a touch of eq here, a touch of compression there - but turn it up? Yeah, turn it up.

Mychal
I agree 100% with Silvertone. All that stuff your referring to, the loudness, the demo firsts, those are all exactly the kind of stuff that is wrong with the industry and wrong with all these newbies starting up with their cracked T-Racks and their L1s.

When it comes to mix down, you don't ask Bruce Swedien for a demo mix, do you?

You don't ask TLA or JJP for a quick 30 sec segment at Wav quality or a low quality 128kbps MP3 version do you?
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19th October 2010
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When it comes to mix down, you don't ask Bruce Swedien for a demo mix, do you?
I'd love to!

I've had some demo mixes of my music along the way, from guys that knew what they were doing. But I was there in the studio each time, and someone else was hooking it up, so I don't know if there was money changing hands or not. I don't think there was - I think it was usually a case of guys calling in favors and doing trades for each other.

As for turning it up, yeah, why not? If an ME can turn it up better than me, why not have him do it? I've had MEs make my mixes louder in very cool ways.

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19th October 2010
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I'd love to!

I've had some demo mixes of my music along the way, from guys that knew what they were doing. But I was there in the studio each time, and someone else was hooking it up, so I don't know if there was money changing hands or not. I don't think there was - I think it was usually a case of guys calling in favors and doing trades for each other.

As for turning it up, yeah, why not? If an ME can turn it up better than me, why not have him do it? I've had MEs make my mixes louder in very cool ways.

Mychal
Oh Demo mixes while your there is meh...

But online? Thats basically asking for a full mix for free then giving you a 30 second clip.

I bet the majority of the cowboy "mastering engineers" wouldn't do anything cool with it, but I know what you mean.
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20th October 2010
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You don't have the mechanic fix the car and then "see if you like it" or "who fixed it best".
I respect you very much, Larry. But I hate this comparison. Fixing a car is not something artistical and even there are differences in quality (and much more in price).

If you do something "artistical" to your car like mounting a bodykit you will probably like to see pictures of it before to see if you like it or not. For me it's the same as demos in mastering. The big names like you and your colleagues don't have to demo to get the work. But you are the ones standing on top of the hill where the others just have to climb up.

I would like to have more jobs without having to struggle for but that's not easy. If nobody would even give me a chance to demo I would hardly get new jobs.

It's a vicious circle, you need jobs to spread your name but to get jobs you need a name first...
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20th October 2010
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I respect you very much, Larry.
Me too. I edited my first post. Sorry about the snide remark.

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20th October 2010
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This is total BS... if you are a professional you get paid. You don't have the mechanic fix the car and then "see if you like it" or "who fixed it best".

Any professional will not master your songs and then "hope to be the one you pick", a professional KNOWS what they are doing and should get paid accordingly.

It's usually the wanna-be's that do this so tread with caution as you might just get someone who is starting out and "shooting in the dark".

Again... good luck.

F*cking too right sir!! +1000. Pardon my French of course. The studio owner and I were having a discussion the other day, after we had a 'financial miscommunication' with a client, about how many people take the piss (or at least, try to) out of engineers and expect the world for next to nothing. It takes what, 10+ years to become really proficient to the point you don't need to 'think' about what your doing (sort of , about the same time of study as any lawyer, doctor etc, but no one thinks twice about dipping their hand in pocket for professionals of this sort. I would like to point out though, if requested, I would quite happily provide a demo master, but normally a good conversation is all that is necessary
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20th October 2010
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Isn't this how you are supposed to master a record on the cheap? Send each track on the disc to a different ME for their free demo, then burn all the results in iTunes? In my next instalment I will explain how to have an entire wedding reception catered by the free sample ladies in Sam's Club. The secret: don't look like you are all together.
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20th October 2010
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Trakworx does a good job. Pretty sure he's on here.
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22nd October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubbagump View Post
Isn't this how you are supposed to master a record on the cheap? Send each track on the disc to a different ME for their free demo, then burn all the results in iTunes? In my next instalment I will explain how to have an entire wedding reception catered by the free sample ladies in Sam's Club. The secret: don't look like you are all together.
If you hand out demo's you should - of course - only take a snippet. At least you can add some (longer) beeps, so the client can get a certain image of your work but can't use it for release.

Communication is key in mastering but how will you describe your work? "Yeah, we're the best, all we do is expceptional and the best you can get." dfegad


There are only a few people who can claim that with good reason. They will be the ones who don't have to demo...

It's better to do a demo sometimes without getting the job as to get every single job by blathering people like an insurance salesman.

Considering that I think the time you spend working on a demo is often less than most pure sales conversations.

A client coming back after testing out a demo will surely come back over and over again. Vice versa you will never see a client again if the work he paid for is only up to 90% of the awaited dream results you promised in your sales conversation.
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22nd October 2010
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I respect you very much, Larry. But I hate this comparison. Fixing a car is not something artistical and even there are differences in quality (and much more in price).

If you do something "artistical" to your car like mounting a bodykit you will probably like to see pictures of it before to see if you like it or not. For me it's the same as demos in mastering. The big names like you and your colleagues don't have to demo to get the work. But you are the ones standing on top of the hill where the others just have to climb up.

I would like to have more jobs without having to struggle for but that's not easy. If nobody would even give me a chance to demo I would hardly get new jobs.

It's a vicious circle, you need jobs to spread your name but to get jobs you need a name first...
Sorry about the car analogy... but you get my point.

My normal saying when somebody tells me how they are going to buy pro-tools and do everything themselves is "look, I can go to the drug store and buy a scalpel but to you really want me taking out your appendix?" Just cause I can buy the tool doesn't mean I know how to use it! The "skill" of engineering is "just that much diminished" in peoples minds today... that anybody can do it... well, no not really.

That hill is a pitchers mound... you guys would probably sh*t your pants to know what I make in a year (gross)... as they say, "it aint nothin to write home about". I made more money as an engineer in the 80's and as a musician in the 70's... our industry has been working backwards the whole time I've been in it. Partly because people are willing to give away their services for free... we lowered the bar ourselves! BTW, I've found low overhead to no overhead is the key to survival in this business today.

That said, I've never been in this business for the money (my big mistake in life) but for the love of music and art... it's my passion, it drives me to get up everyday. It's THE MOST powerful drug I know of!

I just see free demos as a means that devalues our business even more. I will often tell people I will charge them but if they use my service I will credit that towards the CD mastering costs. As you can see this method does not work for singles. That said, I listen to anything a potential client wants to send me, try running it through my chain and then report back to them. Many times I'm spot on with what is bothering them about their mix. If I tell them I can fix it in the mastering, you should hear the comments I get back... it's enough alone to "get the job". If I can't fix it in the mastering I tell them what they might need to do in a remix... again it is usually enough to get me the job.

Bob Ludwig told me when I started in this business that he could hear a mix and immediately know what needed to be done and how to do it. I use to think "how does he do that" and after 10 years of mastering I figured it out... Bob had been doing mastering for over 20 years at the time he told me that... experience with lots of different music and working within a two track mix over years and years of time... There are no short cuts!

I understand about the "free demo" when you are just starting out (all the experience you can get is a good thing), it's just a matter of wanting to grow the industry again... and IMHO "free" doesn't help... but I do understand.

Thanks for the kind words guys. I often question posting here on GS's anymore because sometimes it feels like you get attacked when all you are really trying to do is share your experience. People can disagree all they want, I have no trouble with that but when the attacks come it doesn't want to make you "share" anymore.

Kind words are very much appreciated! Thank you.
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22nd October 2010
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Free demo's are usually for newbies who have plenty of free time on their hands and are looking to attract ~any~ business they can.

Once in a while an experienced pro might do ~one~ free sample ...if it's a high profile client that they really want to attract.

The proper way, is to book sessions with different ME's, pay each one to do 1-3 songs, see who you like working with, listen carefully to the results, then make your decision and move forward.

Otherwise you're behaving like a tire kicking miser who takes advantage of the good nature of friendly folks in the music industry : - )

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22nd October 2010
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It's a tough balancing act for sure, trying to please the client and still show the value in your services. Personally I take sort of a middle road approach. I require payment up front, but if they are truly not happy with the results after a few revisions, I'll give their money back. Keeps the freeloaders away for the most part since they have to pony up the money right from the get go, so usually only people serious about working with me come through the door. While there's still the possibility someone might try to play the game for a freebie, it's never been an issue. Well, I take that back, had one guy recently who just kept requesting revision after revision that made no sense. He finally admitted that he misjudged his funds for the month and needed the mastering money for rent. Not my fault though, so no refund.

I don't get the point of offering freebie samples, as you (ie me) has to basically do all the work of mastering the track to get to that point, plus spend (a little) more time trimming a snippet out. All of the business advice I've read since starting this venture has always said that in the service industry, you need to treat your time and skills as valuable, and your clients will too. Seems to be working so far.
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22nd October 2010
Old 22nd October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
That said, I've never been in this business for the money (my big mistake in life) but for the love of music and art... it's my passion, it drives me to get up everyday. It's THE MOST powerful drug I know of!
Therefore Larry it was not a mistake........not by a long shot......rather this was the best decision you could have made.......you're living the dream.......you had the balls to make a decision that has allowed you to create your reality.......respect!
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Jerry Tubb
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#29
22nd October 2010
Old 22nd October 2010
  #29
Lives for gear
 
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Now if someone wants to drop by our facility for a visit and a free tour of the studios with complimentary coffee, tea or soda, that's a whole different matter, they are welcome.

We'll roll out the red carpet.

But anonymous online free trial mastering... nah that's for weenies.

JT
Paul Gold
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#30
22nd October 2010
Old 22nd October 2010
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb View Post
But anonymous online free trial mastering... nah that's for weenies.
Free weenies with every online order? Sign me up. Do we get rolls and mustard too or only after payment?
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