The purpose of this article isn't to condemn all mastering facilities that charge cheap rates. It's to expose those facilities whose
only goal is to help you part with your hard earned money and give you little in return.
The market place will always have its various price points. Consumers are always free to choose whatever they perceive
to be a good value. Usually, you get what you pay for. When having your project mastered, you need to be careful.
When choosing a mastering facility based on rates alone, you run the risk of becoming the victim of a scam. The search
engines are full of them. This is especially true with the Pay Per Click Ads. Of course, not all Pay Per Click Ads are scams,
but you need to be careful. Many of them attract customers with cheap rates, marketing hype, and provide masters of
questionable quality. There have been cases when after paying the money, the mastering facility is never heard from again.
As the saying goes, "let the buyer beware."
Digital technology has enabled anyone with a computer and inexpensive or cracked software, to enter the mastering arena.
There are common phrases used by scam mastering facilities that should raise a red flag whenever you're using an Internet
search engine, or reading advertisements in music publications. You need to exercise caution when obtaining the services of
any facility that uses these phrases. Being aware of these phrases will help you identify the scams so you don't become their
EXAMPLES OF COMMON PHRASES:
We're The Cheapest... And The Best
It's interesting how some mastering engineers openly admit how little their mastering talent is worth. In looking at their gear
list, they claim to have thousands of dollars invested in equipment. They never mention their mastering room which costs
thousands of dollars to design and build. Can they really make money charging $15.00 a track, or $199.00 for a whole CD if
they have to pay for their investment and facilities overhead? The level of service these facilities provide should be obvious.
We Make Your Music Sound Amazing
This statement takes advantage of those who don't know what to expect when having their CD mastered. Here's a good rule
to follow. If your mix doesn't sound awesome to you when you're finished mixing, it's not ready to be mastered.
Mastering - Only $15 Per Track
The same answer as "We're The Cheapest... And The Best."
Mastering - Only $199 For A Complete CD
Also the same answer as "We're The Cheapest... And The Best."
We Provide CDs That Are Radio Ready
Radio ready is a myth that got started through misinformation, then advanced through ignorance. It usually means the music
has to be mastered loud to sound good on the radio. Nothing can be further from the truth. This Article written by Bob Orban,
the man who invented the radio compressor, is very revealing in regards to radio broadcast levels and how they affect music.
We Offer 24 Hour Turn Around
It takes 6 to 8 hours (depending on the material) to master the average 10 to 12 song CD. So how can a mastering facility
offer a 24 hour turn around if they're as busy as they try to make you think they are? They turn a project around fast because
they have the misguided idea that mastering means one thing... make it loud. They slap a brick wall limiter on the tracks, raise
the level 6 to 10dB, and they're done in minutes (that's why the cheap price). However, that's not mastering. It's "messtering."
Have Your CD Mastered By One Of Our Expert Engineers
That would be great. However, they never mention who the expert engineers are. Never have a CD mastered without knowing
who the so called "expert engineer" is. Not telling you the name of the engineer is unprofessional and shows a lack of common
courtesy. Or, it means they're hiding something from you. Scam operations don't have an "expert engineer." They're scams.
We Make Your Music Loud And Punchy
This is complete nonsense! For a mix to be both loud and punchy is to defy the law of physics. It has to be one or the other.
This statement shows a lack of audio integrity. A mix with punch requires headroom which results in a lower volume. For a
mix to be loud, the headroom must be removed or drastically reduced, which eliminates the punch. It's not rocket science.
Before And After Mastering Samples
While there are some legitimate mastering facilities that offer before and after samples, be careful of this one. It's common
for some mastering facilities to first master a song, then go back to the original and EQ it to sound worse than it did originally.
Then they lower the level of the original by 3-4dB to make it sound even weaker in comparison. Then they post both versions
on their web site so you can listen to the huge differences. This is dishonest, unethical, and it's happening more than you think.
If You Don't Like It... You Don't Pay
They lure you in by using this tactic. It sounds safe, doesn't it. If you think about it for a minute, what does this really say?
It says they have a lack of confidence in their ability and have the expectation that you may not like their work. Legitimate
mastering facilities don't operate in this manner. They don't offer a "don't pay" policy because an engineer, like anyone else
providing a service, should be paid for his time. Legitimate mastering facilities don't expect you to feel their work is mediocre.
Again, these are just examples. The actual phrases might be slightly different from the above, but the scam is still the same.
Be careful when considering a facility as described in the 10 points above, and use caution with facilities whose web sites are
full of marketing hype. Who you choose to master your project is entirely up to you. There are many facilities to choose from
at various price points. Be careful of those who try to lure you in with cheap rates. Cheap rates aren't necessarily an indication
that a facility is operating as a scam, but most scam operations charge cheap rates. Most mastering facilities charging cheap
rates are not providing true mastering. They are simply providing loudness maximization. So be forewarned. It may help you
avoid a major disappointment.