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Normal to be Passed to Assistant Mastering Engineer?
Old 21st April 2019
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Normal to be Passed to Assistant Mastering Engineer?

Hi,

I've queried two relatively big name mastering engineers for a project I'm working on. I'd prefer to leave their names out of this. They work in different studios on different continents and have no relationship with each other.

Although both people have responded to me directly, and said they'd be happy to schedule something with me (giving me the price list), they also both said that the project would be mastered either by them or by their assistant in the studio. They have given me the person's name.

I find it odd that they didn't ask me if this was OK, but just told me "it might not be me". Is this common practice? I would like to insist that they master the album, but I'm not sure if in this business it's something the customer can insist on with any impact. I'm not a big name, and while some people might say "It's your money", it's also possible that the engineer shrugs and says "take it or leave it". I'm really not sure of the next move.

Have any of you experienced this?

Thanks,
RD
Old 21st April 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 
SmoothTone's Avatar
 

I know that in some shops the main engineer checks and signs off on work done by assistant/junior engineers.

Last edited by SmoothTone; 23rd April 2019 at 08:29 PM..
Old 21st April 2019
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Its not unheard of, this kind of thing is often contingent on your budget, your name, schedule, existing relationships (who you've worked with in the past), and the style of music. Well known mastering facilities will have many engineers working for them, and the work will generally get divided as I just listed as some engineers will probably have specialties.

I wouldn't necessarily take offense to this...you can bet that an assistant works as hard/harder than the main engineer, and won't be inexperienced if that's what you're afraid of... I think what you really need to do is get on the horn with some follow-up questions to put yourself at ease. You may not like this analogy, but where I live there is a plumber company called by the name of the founder...and he has maybe 50 vehicles all with his whole body standing there next to shelves of parts on the trunk of the vehicle... Now when you call for plumbing...who is going to show up and do the work? Probably not him... But if they get the job done then it probably doesn't matter all that much.

With that said, assuming you are not able to attend the session live, you would probably never know if the assistant did the work anyway. If it all sounds good in the end...? In a busy/big name studio though I would expect that an assistant is often doing at least some of the work... To rephrase that...if the person you are trying to work with has a noteworthy name, they probably have at least one assistant, if not a whole team working for them. This is true in non-mastering scenarios as well...
Old 9th May 2019
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
With that said, assuming you are not able to attend the session live, you would probably never know if the assistant did the work anyway. If it all sounds good in the end...? In a busy/big name studio though I would expect that an assistant is often doing at least some of the work... To rephrase that...if the person you are trying to work with has a noteworthy name, they probably have at least one assistant, if not a whole team working for them. This is true in non-mastering scenarios as well...
This is kind of what I'm figuring. At least they were honest, unlike some other mastering houses that don't mention or list the assistants!
Old 9th May 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
You might ask if there is an extra charge to insure that the senior person will do the mastering. I'm not implying that they are angling for an extra charge, but if having the name person has a value to YOU, see if they will assign a dollar value to it on their end. It is actually a compliment to that person, and even a mastering engineer isn’t immune to flattery.
Another possible reason that the name person might not do your mastering is the queue of work that person already has. If you indicate that you are willing to wait __ amount of time if that would give you a better chance, let them know.
I don’t think you would put them off by exploring those possibilities.
Good luck!
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