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Mastering Songs

Once a song is produced to a professional level it needs to be mastered; for radio, TV/Film, online, in-stores airplay as well as for distribution of physical and digital CD sales. Mastering is the art of equalizing and technical enhancement of songs, album or both. If you are a lead female/male singer or Transit band for signing to a reputable label, they will organise this at your final stages of recording. If you or the band is arranging this - all you have to do is research properly and ask around (like big studio names), obtain prices and pay for somebody that everyone already trusts to do a brilliant job.

The process of mastering needs to take place in the right type of studio with the right type of equipment in order to do this properly. It is the one part, no artist or label should ever take shortcuts on, especially budget related. Remember this master sound is the final mix that will play on every type of stereo, radio (online and offline) plus on all other media. If your songs were to distort on an iPhone, you could potentially lose hundreds to millions of fans buying your songs - and your customer-base will no doubt lodge many complaints and request refunds accordingly. Avoid this at all costs - pay the fee for mastering, it really is worth it.

Songs and albums should only ever be mastered once the production mix is finalized and signed off (approved) by the record label or by the artist if not signed by a label. Mastering is the final stage of sound production in the recording process. Nowadays software-mastering kits are designed to analyse sound on the record to establish what needs balancing and what needs boosting. However, the quality and precision of monitors used during listening to the record are crucial to determining what needs to be changed. Playback on all types of sound systems also needs to be included in the mastering process. The master is the main source from which all copies are made and distributed - the master is normally held by the artist or producer or record label for copyright and distribution ownership - depending what it says on the contract. In past decades an analog master was kept, however due to format and technology advancing a digital master copy is mostly used today.

When sending off your album's final mix for mastering, place the tracks in the right sequence order as per the album. Not only does the mastering process equalize (all tracks at same level) and enhance, it also compresses, handles peak and volume control, adds ambience and reduces noise accordingly. Plus it normalizes how many seconds are in between the end and start of songs, from beginning to end of the album - so that this is equal throughout. The final master is then transferred onto a high-quality CD-Rom or analog tape. For copyright and royalty purposes, ensure each song and the album has its ISRC, PQ codes inserted. You can also receive a digital copy of your master in WAV and mp3 format.

Once you have the master copy, have tested it on every stereo at full volume and are happy - send a copy of this master to the print company duplicating your CD and ensure the barcode is imprinted in the artwork. Happy selling!