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Where do you see mastering going in the next 10 years? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 12th June 2018
  #1
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Where do you see mastering going in the next 10 years?

There have been so many changes in "mastering" over the past 10 years I am wondering what you see mastering becoming in the next ten years.

The following are some changes I have seen over the past 10 years.

The rise of AI mastering.

The rise of DIY mastering.

The availability of low cost or free mastering software.

The availability of low cost or free plugins.

The gradual change over to ITB mastering for many.

The demise of the CD.

The loss of budgets for mastering.

The gradual decline of the number of people who "need mastering"

The gradual buildup of the number of people doing mastering.

The overall lack of quality for recorded materials posted to the WWW.

The rapid decline of people with access to really good listening environments.

The feeling by many musicians that they no longer need to get their stuff mastered since they only put up one song at a time to the WWW.

And the list goes on...

Thanks in advance!
Old 12th June 2018
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
The rapid decline of people with access to really good listening environments.
I strongly believe this will keep us on business.
Old 13th June 2018
  #3
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Keep in mind, Thomas, that "mastering" - as defined today - is not a very old art. The mastering engineer used to be the guy who transferred audio to the cutting lathe. Somewhere along the line the ME became the guy with the magic dust to "make it sound better and louder".

I think professional MEs will always have a place in commercial audio production the same way that editors are always going to be part of literature creation.
Old 13th June 2018
  #4
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da goose's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
There have been so many changes in "mastering" over the past 10 years I am wondering what you see mastering becoming in the next ten years.

The following are some changes I have seen over the past 10 years.

The rise of AI mastering.

The rise of DIY mastering.

The availability of low cost or free mastering software.

The availability of low cost or free plugins.

The gradual change over to ITB mastering for many.

The demise of the CD.

The loss of budgets for mastering.

The gradual decline of the number of people who "need mastering"

The gradual buildup of the number of people doing mastering.

The overall lack of quality for recorded materials posted to the WWW.

The rapid decline of people with access to really good listening environments.

The feeling by many musicians that they no longer need to get their stuff mastered since they only put up one song at a time to the WWW.

And the list goes on...

Thanks in advance!
Just some thoughts:

What you focus on will grow/become bigger.
Think negative and it will, because that is what you're focusing on.

life grows where focus goes.
Old 13th June 2018
  #5
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I think audio and music is moving incredibly fast and that makes us more relevant than ever.
Old 13th June 2018
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
There have been so many changes in "mastering" over the past 10 years I am wondering what you see mastering becoming in the next ten years.
No positive changes in the last 10 years then?

How about the infinite expansion of the market. The ability to deliver files and accept payments across the globe in an instant. The ability to establish meaningful, personal, client relations with someone you've never met and don't even share a common language with.

^big stuff for a small businesses. Focus on the upsides!
Old 13th June 2018
  #7
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by the3030club View Post
No positive changes in the last 10 years then?

How about the infinite expansion of the market. The ability to deliver files and accept payments across the globe in an instant. The ability to establish meaningful, personal, client relations with someone you've never met and don't even share a common language with.

^big stuff for a small businesses. Focus on the upsides!

Not seeing any of that here but I am a small fish in a very very large ocean. If you are seeing all of that then GREAT! More power and glory to you. Keep up the GREAT work.
Old 13th June 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandreatta View Post
I strongly believe this will keep us on business.
You don't worry that people will not know what a good listening environment even is or why it's important or how it's better than their bluetooth speaker? haha
Old 13th June 2018
  #9
People, in general, have never really known what a good listening enviroment sounds like, or how important it is, but they sure as hell know when they hear it.

Our work, if done correctly, translates to all (or should I say most) speaker systems - the biggest artists aren't going to give up that advantage and the smaller artists will, by and large, want to sound as good as their heroes.
Old 13th June 2018
  #10
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mastermat's Avatar
 

I think there is a grownig need for mastering. in my experience the people who are serious with their art and at the same time are able to afford mastering (due to success in music business, even if it´s not because of sales but because of gigs, events and merchandise etc.) are on the rise.

it´s only that you have to be within a scene and of course top notch in your service to get them as customers.
I guess I was just lucky (and dedicated)...
Old 13th June 2018
  #11
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

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Mastering has never been more important because the impression a new recording makes on today's larger multitude of reviewers, broadcasters and promoters is the next step in an artist's career.
Old 13th June 2018
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by psykostx View Post
You don't worry that people will not know what a good listening environment even is or why it's important or how it's better than their bluetooth speaker? haha
Nope, I don't.
Apples and bananas for me.

I might worry about low-mid quality rooms with low end monitoring systems trying to mimic our work by half of the price. That's a concern, yes.
There's a lot of information about acoustics out there, nevertheless, acousticians keeps working.
There's a lot of information on how to mix a song, nevertheless, mixing engineers keeps working.
DIY grew a lot over the past few years, CAPI makes great products, but API is still on business, right?

Like someone said before, our role in music business changed. Most of the music material that comes to my studio needs heavy work to be ready for release. Why? Cause it's produced far away from perfect conditions, both technically and artistically, and producers and musicians knows it.
I'm an 30 years old engineer. I might see the business from a different point of view, and I'm confident we'll keep on track no matter how the biz evolves.
Old 13th June 2018
  #13
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bgrotto's Avatar
As a professional producer/recordist/mixer (who admittedly occasionally dabbles in mastering when necessary), clients often ask my advice as to whether mastering is really a necessity these days. I'm upfront with them by saying it's not in certain cases, and absolutely IS in other cases, but even in the former where it's not a technical requirement, it's still highly recommended. And 99 out of 100 times, the client takes my advice and the project makes its way to a professional (pre)mastering engineer. So even if the modern era brings a decrease in the technical need for mastering, I'll still certainly be seeking out my mastering pals' trusted ears and expertise.
Old 14th June 2018
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandreatta View Post
Nope, I don't.
Apples and bananas for me.

I might worry about low-mid quality rooms with low end monitoring systems trying to mimic our work by half of the price. That's a concern, yes.
There's a lot of information about acoustics out there, nevertheless, acousticians keeps working.
There's a lot of information on how to mix a song, nevertheless, mixing engineers keeps working.
DIY grew a lot over the past few years, CAPI makes great products, but API is still on business, right?

Like someone said before, our role in music business changed. Most of the music material that comes to my studio needs heavy work to be ready for release. Why? Cause it's produced far away from perfect conditions, both technically and artistically, and producers and musicians knows it.
I'm an 30 years old engineer. I might see the business from a different point of view, and I'm confident we'll keep on track no matter how the biz evolves.
True, but the success to failure rate is substantial enough to where it must be considered that chance plays a huge role, almost as much as it does with becoming a pop celebrity. There's a hundreds of thousands of anesthesiologists and millions if not over a billion people in moderate to severe pain, but only one of them got paid a fortune to pump Michael Jackson full of lethal injections every day.

Also I suspect the reason the stuff that comes into your studio needs heavy work because of amateur "techniques", not because of rooms. I mean in most styles of modern music you're only working with a dynamic range equivalent to 5 bits, give or take. Or maybe they're being generous to you by not trying to process loudness by force.

The precision of your gear and environment likely isn't even necessary to do what you do, now that you know what you're doing and don't make mistakes. Which really, is what a professional is right? Somebody who gets paid because they don't make mistakes or fall short of expectations, when they're on a client's dollar?

I don't need most of my equipment to do what I do anymore, but I would never have been able to do what I do without the experience of learning that equipment. And I would notice the difference in end result without it, but I doubt anybody else would because the gear makes the avoidance of mistakes obvious. Plugins don't show blatant errors in gear selection and workflow the way hardware does. (Except maybe Sonnox hahaha) That includes room tuning plugins, room calculators, etc etc. Once you know what you're doing these kinds of things become trifle to the process.
Old 14th June 2018
  #15
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
There have been so many changes in "mastering" over the past 10 years I am wondering what you see mastering becoming in the next ten years.

The following are some changes I have seen over the past 10 years.

The rise of AI mastering.

The rise of DIY mastering.

The availability of low cost or free mastering software.

The availability of low cost or free plugins.

The gradual change over to ITB mastering for many.

The demise of the CD.

The loss of budgets for mastering.

The gradual decline of the number of people who "need mastering"

The gradual buildup of the number of people doing mastering.

The overall lack of quality for recorded materials posted to the WWW.

The rapid decline of people with access to really good listening environments.

The feeling by many musicians that they no longer need to get their stuff mastered since they only put up one song at a time to the WWW.

And the list goes on...

Thanks in advance!
anyone familiar with the business of running a commercial recording studio, over the last 30 years or so, would find your intuition and perceptions enlightening.

Buddha
Old 14th June 2018
  #16
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Well let's put it this way, the music business is not in it's financial heyday anymore.

I was a young musician in the 80 and 90's and the amount of money I had thrown at projects I was involved in
would be considered eye watering now.

There was a period of about 10 years where funds seemed almost unlimited - those where the days!
Old 14th June 2018
  #17
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehightenor View Post
Well let's put it this way, the music business is not in it's financial heyday anymore.

I was a young musician in the 80 and 90's and the amount of money I had thrown at projects I was involved in
would be considered eye watering now.

There was a period of about 10 years where funds seemed almost unlimited - those where the days!
When I was learning mastering in Nashville in the 1980s it seemed that mastering was one of the most important processes that musicians relied on. We had two shifts at the mastering studio I was learning at because we had so much business.

Recently that studio closed due to lack of work and I have no idea where the two mastering engineers are today.

I guess the need for mastering is still strong from what others are saying. It also seems like a lot of people who were doing mastering have moved on or quit from what I read on other forums. So it seems that there is a greater need for mastering but less people are doing it? Is that what the posters here are saying? Just wondering?
Old 15th June 2018
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
When I was learning mastering in Nashville in the 1980s it seemed that mastering was one of the most important processes that musicians relied on. We had two shifts at the mastering studio I was learning at because we had so much business.

Recently that studio closed due to lack of work and I have no idea where the two mastering engineers are today.

I guess the need for mastering is still strong from what others are saying. It also seems like a lot of people who were doing mastering have moved on or quit from what I read on other forums. So it seems that there is a greater need for mastering but less people are doing it? Is that what the posters here are saying? Just wondering?
In my ten years of working the field I've seen tonnes of people enter the industry and successfully find their niche within a few years.

AES is having its first Mastering conference in September so the folks with the best grasp of numbers seem to think it's pretty relevant...
Old 15th June 2018
  #19
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_caithness View Post
In my ten years of working the field I've seen tonnes of people enter the industry and successfully find their niche within a few years.

AES is having its first Mastering conference in September so the folks with the best grasp of numbers seem to think it's pretty relevant...
Are the "tonnes of people" in Europe or in the USA or both? Inquiring minds want to know.
Old 15th June 2018
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Are the "tonnes of people" in Europe or in the USA or both? Inquiring minds want to know.
Yeah most likely.

America is the worlds biggest economy so it stands to reason there are a higher density of people working in professions connected to the creation and distribution of arts and cultural products to me.
Old 15th June 2018
  #21
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_caithness View Post
Yeah most likely.

America is the worlds biggest economy so it stands to reason there are a higher density of people working in professions connected to the creation and distribution of arts and cultural products to me.
My question was more like the do you personally know the "tonnes of people" who are making it and where are they located? I would imagine in Europe and Asia.

Within 100 miles of my mastering studio there used to be 500 recording studios all of whom offered "mastering" as part of their recording package. I know some of the the studio owners and they are not doing very well doing recording or mastering. In fact right now there are probably more studios closing up then are staying in business. One studio owner located 7 miles from me opened an incredible acoustic recording studio (main room and three sub rooms that he and his Dad built) and he offered mastering as an add on. Within 6 months he closed down (he spent about 100K building the studio) and is now using it as his "personal" studio. Lack of paying clients even although his rates were more than reasonable. America is a tough place to make a buck in recording or mastering since the field is so over crowded. FWIW
Old 15th June 2018
  #22
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I reckon in 10 years, Thomas will still be here moaning about the state of the industry, FWIW & YMMV.
Old 15th June 2018
  #23
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Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
One studio owner located 7 miles from me opened an incredible acoustic recording studio (main room and three sub rooms that he and his Dad built) and he offered mastering as an add on. Within 6 months he closed down (he spent about 100K building the studio) and is now using it as his "personal" studio. Lack of paying clients even although his rates were more than reasonable. America is a tough place to make a buck in recording or mastering since the field is so over crowded. FWIW
100K? 6 months? Honestly that sounds like poor planning to me. You need a realistic business plan to start a studio that will last. You need to have a client base already in place if you expect to be in the black when you open up. Failing that, you need to have large cash reserves in order to keep the doors open long enough to establish a client base. It's unrealistic to expect clients to flock to you in the first 6 months just because you're there. It's the same reason most restaurants don't make it - they fail to plan for ramp up time and run out of cash before they can turn a profit.

Most of the studios that have survived in my area are the ones who started small, kept their overhead costs under control, and increased their financial investment only as their client base grew in a reliable way. Either that or they were started by established engineers/producers who already had plenty of clients ready to go.

As for mastering studios specifically, the same applies. It can take many years to build a loyal client base. Once you do, then all those negative factors in the OP will have little effect on you.

Of course Oberlin Ohio area is a different market from the SF Bay Area, which makes financial planning all the more crucial.

Sorry for the long post. I'm sitting at home with a cold and don't have anything better to do than spout off on the internet!

Best,

.
Old 15th June 2018
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
My question was more like the do you personally know the "tonnes of people" who are making it and where are they located? I would imagine in Europe and Asia.

Within 100 miles of my mastering studio there used to be 500 recording studios all of whom offered "mastering" as part of their recording package. I know some of the the studio owners and they are not doing very well doing recording or mastering. In fact right now there are probably more studios closing up then are staying in business. One studio owner located 7 miles from me opened an incredible acoustic recording studio (main room and three sub rooms that he and his Dad built) and he offered mastering as an add on. Within 6 months he closed down (he spent about 100K building the studio) and is now using it as his "personal" studio. Lack of paying clients even although his rates were more than reasonable. America is a tough place to make a buck in recording or mastering since the field is so over crowded. FWIW
I haven't done an international survey of mastering studios no.

But does your anecdotal experience of the market trump mine?

I see new mastering plugins, hardware, conferences all the time, Occams Razor = mastering seems OK
Old 15th June 2018
  #25
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Apostolos Siopis's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
There have been so many changes in "mastering" over the past 10 years I am wondering what you see mastering becoming in the next ten years.

The following are some changes I have seen over the past 10 years.

The rise of AI mastering.

The rise of DIY mastering.

The availability of low cost or free mastering software.

The availability of low cost or free plugins.

The gradual change over to ITB mastering for many.

The demise of the CD.

The loss of budgets for mastering.

The gradual decline of the number of people who "need mastering"

The gradual buildup of the number of people doing mastering.

The overall lack of quality for recorded materials posted to the WWW.

The rapid decline of people with access to really good listening environments.

The feeling by many musicians that they no longer need to get their stuff mastered since they only put up one song at a time to the WWW.

And the list goes on...

Thanks in advance!

I suppose 23 years ago you saw mastering as a interesting business and started your studio.

Ten years ago you probably thought the same so you continued.

An interesting question would be:
What are your plans for the next ten years?

so what do you plan to do about it Thomas?
Old 15th June 2018
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
I reckon in 10 years, Thomas will still be here moaning about the state of the industry, FWIW & YMMV.
Yeah it's hard to miss the gist of his posts over many years. It seems that business has been consistently slow. That's the impression I get from... well, from him saying so! That's a real bummer. He seems like a genuinely nice guy who knows a lot about mastering.

-----------------------------------------

Hey Thomas, I see how tempting it must be to point to the state of the industry as an explanation for slow business, but if I may say so, I think there are a couple of bigger factors. I say this with the intent to help, not to criticize.

One is location. You're in a little town of 8,000 people in the shadow of 2 big cities. Most of the population in your area lives closer to the studios in Cleveland and Toledo, so why should they travel to Oberlin when they have more convenient options? Have you considered moving your studio to the city?

Another is branding. "Acoustik Music". If I'm in a Rock or Metal band I might get the impression that you're not oriented towards my style. Same goes for Pop, Hip Hop, Electronica, etc. That's a huge percent of music. I'm sure you do get non-acoustic clients but I think some significant portion of them might shy away because of the name, and you would have no way to ever know it.

I think those 2 factors may outweigh the state of the industry when explaining slow business, FWIW.

Again, I say all this with the intent to help, not to criticize. I hope you take it that way.

Best of luck to you, Thomas!

.
Old 15th June 2018
  #27
I live in a town of under 6,000!
Old 15th June 2018
  #28
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I live in a city of over 11 million, and none of my clients come from here.
Old 15th June 2018
  #29
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

15 years ago, all my mastering work came from the local music scene. Today, 80% of my clients are not in the same country. I don't think I've had a single client from the same city in the last 2 years.

I miss having clients in attendance; but I like connecting with people from all over the world. Caring about people's music and listening carefully to their wishes doesn't seem to be affected by distance.
Old 15th June 2018
  #30
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Around half of my mastering is sent from far away, and around half of my local mastering is also unattended, so I only have people there about a quarter of the time these days. Used to be a lot more.

I was talking about Thomas's location because I've often seen him refer to his geographic area when he discusses his 'busy-ness', so I assumed that a lot of his clientele is local...
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