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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.