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Too accommodating is bad mastering?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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Too accommodating is bad mastering?

I worked with an ME one time that would basically do whatever I asked. "Do you want it darker/brighter, louder, more dynamic, etc.?" he asked. By the time we were all done I felt like I mastered it myself - and then I paid him for it! (that's when I started learning how to do my own mastering)

When I hire someone like an ME I expect THEM to make decisions using their expertise and experience.

How do you address the line between being accommodating and doing what YOU think is right?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
So you'd be happier if the ME didn't ask you anything and made it brighter and louder than you wanted it?

I don't generally ask clients how they want it, I make it sound good to me and send it off. But if they're not psyched about what I've done in any way, then I'm happy to accommodate them. Sometimes I don't 100% agree with their changes, and if they ask my opinion I'll give it, but if they don't then I keep my mouth shut and do what they want. It's their record.

It's pretty rare that anyone asks for anything totally crazy that I really disagree with. Most of the time it's simple stuff, different tastes. So no problem.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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Trakworx's Avatar
First I send them what I think is best and ask them to let me know how they like it and if they need anything more from me. If they ask for a revision then I accommodate. If they ask for what I think is a terrible revision (rarely happens) then we have a discussion about it. Ultimately it's the client's music and they are paying me so I do what they wish. This process serves to satisfy both the clients who want me to make the decisions and the ones who like to be more involved themselves.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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moostapha's Avatar
 

I've been doing a first-pass by myself with no real input and then a normal revision process.

The weirdest one was somebody who wanted me to go "waaay too far" toward more bass. Because that was his vision. He was happy when I actually did go way too far and then backed it off a bit to something approaching reasonable. He wound up really happy.

There's a balance. But, IMHO, if your visions are wildly different...the artist is right. How you get there is what the ME does. There's a lot of ways to make things (e.g.) "brighter". Unless you and the client communicate, no one is going to be happy. If it gets to the point the client is saying things like "add some 2k, give it another dB of compression below 100", then neither one of you is going to be happy.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 

Verified Member
I view the mastering process as a conversation between the artist and the listener. I'm just the guy trying to make them both happy. The goal is to understand what the artist intends and to present the masters in a way that makes listeners happy. If they have specific ideas on what it should sound like it's my job to make that happen, but always with the end listeners' genre expectations in mind.

I don't ask many questions. The mix will tell you want it needs and the artist will comment if they wan't something specific. The only time I get deep into questions is when the artist doesn't really know what they want or when the mixes don't support their goals.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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G-Sun's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
When I hire someone like an ME I expect THEM to make decisions using their expertise and experience.
I'm with you here.
I'd interpret following every whim by the client as being unprofessional.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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mastermat's Avatar
 

for me it totally depends on the client. some have a pretty clear understanding of the mastering process and also a precise vision of what the mastering should do for the music.

with these sort of customers sometimes a brief discussion about the mastering makes sense because it could reduce the probability of a revision.

other less experienced clients rather want to be guided, so here discussions might lead into nothing productive and could increase uncertainty on both sides.

with new customers I sometimes ask for one or two of their favourite sounding tracks so I get an idea of their preferences.

Last edited by mastermat; 2 weeks ago at 10:09 PM.. Reason: spelling
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
So you'd be happier if the ME didn't ask you anything and made it brighter and louder than you wanted it?
If that's where it should be, in his professional opinion, yes.

I'm not saying the ME should have said, "my way is the only right way" - I'm saying I paid for his expertise and direction. If I had known how to master it I would have done it myself.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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Trakworx's Avatar
I dunno man. The fact that you went on to learn to master yourself suggests that you did want to be the decider on how it should sound.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
I dunno man. The fact that you went on to learn to master yourself suggests that you did want to be the decider on how it should sound.
I went to an expert because I did NOT know how it should sound. I wanted him to TELL me, not ASK me.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
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Trakworx's Avatar
OK, well now that you're a ME, what's your answer to the question:

How do you address the line between being accommodating and doing what YOU think is right?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 

Verified Member
That's the job. Bridging the gap between artistic intent and listener preference.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
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bcgood's Avatar
 

Verified Member
I lean more on the side that I am the ME and have more experience, better monitoring a better room, nice analog hardware etc so yes you should trust me.

If you don't then feel free to "master" it yourself with plug ins etc.

Good luck with that..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
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DBarbarulo's Avatar
the first question i ask to clients during an attended session is how's their perception of the work in my room. Is not uncommon that something i think sounds like s*it is "exactly as intended". :D
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by DBarbarulo View Post
the first question i ask to clients during an attended session is how's their perception of the work in my room. Is not uncommon that something i think sounds like s*it is "exactly as intended". :D
Those are the tricky ones. Reference their genre, offer your advice and then give them what they want.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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macc's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Sun View Post
I'm with you here.
I'd interpret following every whim by the client as being unprofessional.
The trick is making them think you're following every whim
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
OK, well now that you're a ME, what's your answer to the question:

How do you address the line between being accommodating and doing what YOU think is right?
What Greg said,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post
I don't ask many questions. The mix will tell you want it needs and the artist will comment if they wan't something specific.
THAT is what I expect from a professional ME.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
When clients ask for revision, I do it without any hesitation and do tweak the master to their liking. However, I found out that most of the time they end up using the initial version that I sent.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Razik View Post
...I found out that most of the time they end up using the initial version that I sent.
That just happened to me again today!
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
What Greg said,



THAT is what I expect from a professional ME.
That does seem to be basically the same approach as everyone in the thread described. Nice to have consensus!
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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SASMastering's Avatar
Too accomodating, maybe and probably. This also depends on initial communications and client relationship but generally I listen again first, and I do it, and I explain the potential consequence and as has been said often they go with the first. Unless it is something extreme which will have a very likely detrimental effect.

I know from my own music making, occasionally the aesthetic is more important than precise and ideal translation.
(i.e. I like to make the occasional retro track, I wanted the lower mids a little more loaded, and a little less overall brightness, the days before everyone had a HPF that could start in the lower mids for every synth/sampler source. When your Mackies/Soundcraft/Soundtracs/Studiomaster/Seck were prevalent and home production became a viable option. They tended to only have a 80Hz/100Hz filter on the mic input.)

That is not really your call as a M.E.

It is your call to explain potential outcomes of deviation from the best sounding, best translating master you can produce.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonlinear View Post
I worked with an ME one time that would basically do whatever I asked. "Do you want it darker/brighter, louder, more dynamic, etc.?" he asked. By the time we were all done I felt like I mastered it myself - and then I paid him for it! (that's when I started learning how to do my own mastering)

When I hire someone like an ME I expect THEM to make decisions using their expertise and experience.

How do you address the line between being accommodating and doing what YOU think is right?
I think this is because this industry is going down,,, less orders, and more producers are doing ITB mastering in theid computer. Also maybe it is based on their experiences - music scene is full of narcistic people who think they know everything best and if somebody do not listen to them or do it opposite way they become angry because only they have the truth (of course I dont mean you) but basic mastering engineers are maybe affraid of bad references so they try to listen client absolutely.

Where it is going?
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Depends on the client. If they know what they want and can express that view then everything usually goes smoothly. If they don't know what is is that they want their stuff to sound like then it is more difficult. I usually ask a client to bring in or send me links to what they are looking for in terms of overall sound. I had one heavy metal client bring in a James Taylor CD. I scratched my head and ask "why" and he told me he wanted his material to be the loudest I could make it but be as clear as a JT CD. OK!

The worst clients are the ones that cannot hear that their stuff will NEVER sound like their reference CDs or tracks since they are trying to match a Michael Jackson professionally recorded sound with A level equipment and A level engineers with some tracks recorded in someone's bedroom on a bad microphone. Those are the clients that it is hardest to work with IMHO.

FWIW
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

Verified Member
I just do what I think is right, both technically & musically.

and it usually is.

Occasionally the client has a different preference,

and you get to redo it, or touch it up.

there's no accounting for taste, or the lack of it.

and it varies on the viewpoint of the individual.

Or, if you make a mistake, which everyone does, however rarely,

then you learn from it.

Boom!

Best, JT
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