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"Mastering engineers" who sell mixing services.
Old 26th July 2019
  #61
Re stem mastering - FWIW I'm not a big fan of it. I do view it as mixing and mastering, even if the mixing part is simplified. You're processing, leveling and blending channels, i.e. mixing. No one asks for stem mastering unless they feel the mix isn't finished. If you're finishing the mix, you're mixing.

And it can lead to clients asking for revisions that involve tweaking the mixing part not the mastering. "The master sounds great! Can you please raise the bass stem by 1dB?" "Can you add reverb to the guitar solo?" "Can you cut out that mouth noise just before the second verse?" = Mixing.

That's why I bill stem mastering just like I would mixing and mastering, charging hourly for the mixing time in addition to the mastering. So a client can have as many mix revisions as they want but they have to pay for the time, just like a traditional mixing client would.

Stem mastering is mixing and mastering. Clients ask for it when they want an ME's ear on their mix in addition to their master.

I think Psycho_Monkey's point about high end specialists still holds true though, because the high end MEs probably don't get asked to do stem mastering much or at all, because their high end clientele tend to have high end mix engineers. For those of us in the mid level of the industry things are different, so many of us do work with stems, which is mixing. Even though some of us say we're just mastering when we do it.

And as I've said, I don't have a problem with doing both mixing and mastering, but call it what it is. And a mastering specialist can do it.
Old 26th July 2019
  #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
It sounds like you gave her what she asked for, and now she's not your client anymore.

Most people misinterpret Machiavelli. They think he's saying "Kill your enemies." But what he's really saying is, "You can't do a good job if you don't have the job. So your first priority should be keeping the job." Which, in the case of his hypothetical prince, boiled down to killing his enemies.

But for us, sometimes it comes down to deciding between giving a client what they literally ask for, and giving them a good-sounding product.
Sometimes giving them what they ask for does kill them so works great!.....
Old 26th July 2019
  #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I guess it's the latter scenario, but I have an occasional client who wants her vocals too bright. By a lot. So I send the ME (a major player) band, BGV's and lead vocal. We've had to do some back and forth a couple times because dulling down the vocals is going to take the fx with it, but it works out well.
so instead of disobeying your client's instructions, you send it off to a mastering engineer who you know will dull down the vocals for you? And if she complains, then you can blame him!

That is Machiavellian!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
But for us, sometimes it comes down to deciding between giving a client what they literally ask for, and giving them a good-sounding product.

I always say there are plenty of people who can mix a song to their own personal aesthetic. There are plenty of people who can do just what they are told, and ask to have their name removed. But the real skill is in interpreting the artist/producer's instructions without crashing the plane.
Old 26th July 2019
  #64
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Originally Posted by StillCrazy View Post
Not to be trivial but an egg can't form outside a chicken.
A Chicken egg could form inside an Archaeopteryx. Which, while grossly oversimplified, is kind of what happened.
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"Mastering engineers" who sell mixing services.-archeopterx-.jpg  
Old 26th July 2019
  #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
so instead of disobeying your client's instructions, you send it off to a mastering engineer who you know will dull down the vocals for you? And if she complains, then you can blame him!

That is Machiavellian!
Part of the reason he's the ME (at my behest) is that he's the Higher Authority with the platinum records on the wall. He dulls down the vocals a little while simultaneously brightening the band a little so they meet up in the middle, and the artist doesn't need to know how he magically accomplished that.
Old 26th July 2019
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Part of the reason he's the ME (at my behest) is that he's the Higher Authority with the platinum records on the wall. He dulls down the vocals a little while simultaneously brightening the band a little so they meet up in the middle, and the artist doesn't need to know how he magically accomplished that.
What he accomplished, though, is the same thing you would have accomplished had you been "allowed" to, right? Any way you slice it, the vocals are duller than what she asked for. She must be able to hear that.

But she'll accept it from him, not because he did any studio magic you couldn't have done yourself at mixing time, but simply because he has the trophies?
Old 26th July 2019
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
But she'll accept it from him, not because he did any studio magic you couldn't have done yourself at mixing time, but simply because he has the trophies?
More like, he has all this apparent evidence that people with massive success have trusted that he knows what he's doing. Which he actually does.

He gets a gig, I keep the gig, she gets within one degree of separation from Grammy winners, and her record sounds as good as it's going to sound.
Old 26th July 2019
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
A Chicken egg could form inside an Archaeopteryx. Which, while grossly oversimplified, is kind of what happened.
Then it wouldn't be a chicken.
Old 26th July 2019
  #69
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Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
It sounds like you gave her what she asked for, and now she's not your client anymore.
She stayed my client up until her death.

we did 4 or 5 albums, and she always wanted the vocals loud.

i dont know if you have done Siccillian Folk or Nepolitanian traditional Folk recordings, but its another case of the vocals too loud, and usually Requests for Buckets of Reverb.

Ha ha....

done a few of those traditional projects, as there is a large Italian community in Australia.

Buddha
Old 26th July 2019
  #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
She stayed my client up until her death.
It would be unreasonable to expect more loyalty than that.

Quote:
i dont know if you have done Siccillian Folk or Nepolitanian traditional Folk recordings, but its another case of the vocals too loud, and usually Requests for Buckets of Reverb.
Here in LA, we don't have much of that. But we do have the entire Persian music industry, which fled Iran at the same time as the Shah. Their vocals aren't especially loud, but they're still pretty hard to listen to.
Old 26th July 2019
  #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
She stayed my client up until her death.

we did 4 or 5 albums, and she always wanted the vocals loud.

i dont know if you have done Siccillian Folk or Nepolitanian traditional Folk recordings, but its another case of the vocals too loud, and usually Requests for Buckets of Reverb.

Ha ha....

done a few of those traditional projects, as there is a large Italian community in Australia.

Buddha
Dude my wife is Corsican talk about cool folk music! Quarter tonal arabic influence with an Italian operatic style overlay, sung in Corsican or French.... They also do very cool acapella 4 part harmony chant type stuff. I wonder if Sicilian is similar.....
Old 26th July 2019
  #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
But we do have the entire Persian music industry, which fled Iran at the same time as the Shah. Their vocals aren't especially loud, but they're still pretty hard to listen to.
Ha ha ...

work is work Mate (as they say down under)

somebodies got to do it...

keep it up
Old 26th July 2019
  #73
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Originally Posted by ardis View Post
Dude my wife is Corsican talk about cool folk music! Quarter tonal arabic influence with an Italian operatic style overlay, sung in Corsican or French.... They also do very cool acapella 4 part harmony chant type stuff. I wonder if Sicilian is similar.....
in Sydney i did a lot of work in that section of the industry.

Ethnic / World / African / Gypsie folk. etc...

Nardia Golski, Marsala , Anatoli Torjinski, Nadia Piave, Nata Forte, Gino Pengue, Emelio Lomonaco, Te Lares, Carmen Pavez, Jose Zarb, Vladimir Khusid, Jess Ciampa, Lupco Stojcevski, Michael Kluger. Chris Gudu, Ney Arrua, Jorge Pereira, Pape Mbaye, Christopher Soulos, Rodrigo Galvao, Hernan Flores, Carmen Pavez.

there are just some of the wonderful musicians/bands that spring to mind.

some people think that studios just record Rock, or hip hop and Rap...

and back on topic, none of those Projects/Albums used Stem mastering.

Buddha
Old 27th July 2019
  #74
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Originally Posted by ardis View Post
I wonder if Sicilian is similar.....
here is one for you to listen to. a traditional Ballad.

Unmastered.

Buddha
Attached Files
Old 27th July 2019
  #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
here is one for you to listen to. a traditional Ballad.

Unmastered.

Buddha
That’s lovely! Does sound similar. I’ll try to dig out something. So cool! Thx!!
Old 27th July 2019
  #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StillCrazy View Post
Then it wouldn't be a chicken.
So which kind of Creationist are you? Young Earth or Old Earth?
Old 27th July 2019
  #77
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Originally Posted by joeq View Post
So which kind of Creationist are you? Young Earth or Old Earth?
Beyond my realm of knowledge. I'll stick to chickens.
Old 27th July 2019
  #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
So which kind of Creationist are you? Young Earth or Old Earth?
Heck, the guy in the sky is even doing hardware now. I ran across this GS quote the other day...

Quote:
You'd be amazed at what a little clever feedback circuitry and some intelligent design can do for a piece of gear.
Old 28th July 2019
  #79
I have a very personal and clear definition of what stem mastering is and I am at one with these definitions and the mind set I approach it with. I have written elsewhere but mixing is incredibly creative, has mass automations, edits, tunings, effects processing, these processes alone make it greatly removed from stem mastering. The operative word is "creative".

And a mix engineer (if not being guided by producer who may instruct on sound design/sonic aesthetic) knows this. Stem mastering offers many potential benefits for some mixes, sometimes a little sometimes more than a little.

It is interesting to note that such is the immense power of some of the software tools available in 2019 you could possibly argue that a gentle/subtle form of mixing can happen during stereo mastering. i.e. DMG Multiplicity and similar remedial tools.
(I have spent about £2,000.00 on very powerful software the last 2 years)

I allow 8 stems but don't sweat it if a client feels the need to send a couple more. It is about 5pct of my work and I will happily listen to a track and advise if I feel a track may benefit from stems or not.

I will go as far as to say, as there was commentary about cheap mastering, although I am not quite sure where it was directed, my rates might be low but there is nothing cheap about my long engineering experience, equipment and results. Mastering rates are very personal and often have little to do with results. I believe experienced people in the music production world can see when any given engineer is competent, irrelevant of price.

Last edited by SASMastering; 29th July 2019 at 09:57 AM.. Reason: spelling
Old 28th July 2019
  #80
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Originally Posted by SASMastering View Post
Mastering rates are very personal and often have little to do with results. I believe experienced people in the music production world can see when any given engineer is competent, irrelevant of price.
i can say from experience that if you have a tracking studio and its booked out 360 days a year at $650/day, then thats way better than having a studio charging $950/day sitting empty 250 days a year.

there is nothing wrong with charging a rate, that keeps you booked out, and still keeps you alive and in business.

keep up the good work.

Buddha
Old 29th July 2019
  #81
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why’d the op put mastering engineers in quotation marks in the headline? implies they’re not “real” mastering engineers if they mix.
Old 29th July 2019
  #82
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
i can say from experience that if you have a tracking studio and its booked out 360 days a year at $650/day, then thats way better than having a studio charging $950/day sitting empty 250 days a year.

there is nothing wrong with charging a rate, that keeps you booked out, and still keeps you alive and in business.

keep up the good work.

Buddha
If you run a room, I'd say the rate that fills your room the most profitably is the right one.

As an individual, I'd rather work 4 days/week than 6 days/week if the end result is the same financially
Old 29th July 2019
  #83
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Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
I'd rather work 4 days/week than 6 days/week if the end result is the same financially
do you enjoy your work?

do you do it for money or for the love of music?

Buddha
Old 29th July 2019
  #84
If you mix you most likely cannot live on mastering alone or you prioritze your income over respect for historic separation of tasks. So I feel people who solely master are mastering engineers in the sense of a dedicated service as mastering has traditionally been.

"Mastering" then appears like a bolt on service cause you have a set monitors in your room. (and often those not suited for mastering)

Few, if any (most likely none) top mastering engineers mix, I still feel there is merit in following the approach of those to who whom you aspire, methods that have worked and created incredible end results (recording engineer.. remember those? mix engineer, mastering engineer) It includes a respect for each skill, the industry and the approach that has worked. This is not an absolute but it still sits most comfortably with me.

Last edited by SASMastering; 29th July 2019 at 10:19 AM..
Old 29th July 2019
  #85
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
do you enjoy your work?

do you do it for money or for the love of music?

Buddha
Both. But these days, I’d rather spend time with my family than be working on stuff I don’t love.

Yes mostly I enjoy my work. I’d rather work less and enjoy ALL my work
Old 29th July 2019
  #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SASMastering View Post
If you mix you most likely cannot live on mastering alone or you prioritze your income over respect for historic separation of tasks. So I feel people who solely master are mastering engineers in the sense of a dedicated service as mastering has traditionally been.

"Mastering" then appears like a bolt on service cause you have a set monitors in your room. (and often those not suited for mastering)

Few, if any (most likely none) top mastering engineers mix, I still feel there is merit in following the approach of those to who whom you aspire, methods that have worked and created incredible end results (recording engineer.. remember those? mix engineer, mastering engineer) It includes a respect for each skill, the industry and the approach that has worked. This is not an absolute but it still sits most comfortably with me.
Sorry if you have already addressed this but I couldn't find it. I wanted to know if you do begin to offer mixing services, will you be mastering those mixes? Or do you intend to send them 'out'?
Old 8th August 2019
  #87
Not possible to answer this with any value really because I don't plan to mix in the future, cause I have not needed to. It was a hypothetical question in some regards and there is no skilled worker in any field of work who can rest on their laurels in 2019 and into the future.

Mastering a mix you have done yourself is in the vast majority of cases is a sub optimal plan. You are likely to compound tonal issues, may not catch defects, may not have monitoring that can hear as deep and detailed into a mix and unless you can be 100pct sure of your room, genre, (and are objective about how well your mixing stacks up against the Top 10 productions in your genre) and have super clear goals, it is best out sourced.

There are of course exceptions. One exception is with my own self produced music. I have the freedom of no deadlines/time constraints (so I can grasp back some objectivity as I can relax once a mix is done and master a week or 2 later.) It goes without saying that as a pro mastering engineer myself with a room and world class gear I implicitly trust it is a valid exception to the rule.
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