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You’ve been in the studio concentrating on each track, probably one at a time, with the same solid focus to each one. Each song is composed and performed to the same high standards that you expect from you and your production team. When it comes to putting out your individual tracks, or putting a collection of them on to CD or on a playlist, it is important that they all ‘flow’.
Just take any seminal album that you know and love and consider ‘perfect’ in every way. That album, whether or not you’re thinking as a musician, engineer, producer or manager, will simply flow. Flow from one track to the other building your anticipation to the next track and satisfying you, the listener. Reading the sleeve notes, that album might have been recorded by several production teams in differing studios across the world on different equipment and at different stages of an artist’s career. Nevertheless, the music still ‘flows’ doesn’t it?
That so-called ‘flow’ is down to the mastering engineer making sound judgements on each of the tracks to ensure that the album does indeed flow. Each track and album needs individual attention to detail to perhaps make the changes necessary. These might be making things the right level (more on this later), matching the equalisation between tracks, making the tracks sit together side-by-side by adjusting the gaps between tracks (or taking them out all together if required), repairing sonic deficiencies such as hiss, rumble, wow and flutter where possible, adding the PQ, ISRC, UPC/EAN codes and preparatory information for the master and simply making your music sound as good as is possible.
We are sympathetic to both sides of the loudness coin and as such request that your music comes to us with as much dynamic range as you can allow. We understand the mixes need to be representative, but would prefer that no mastering compression be applied at the mix stage.
Why do we ask this? Some mixes come to us with compression on already. In some cases these are very good, but at other times this can cause more problems for us as we may need to unpick this compression to get the results you want over the whole album. We would prefer for a mix to come to us uncompressed, but the mix sounding excellent. We can then compress and limit your music using our mastering grade techniques to obtain the best results. Alternatively, please provide us with both the compressed version and a version without.
We’d love the music to come in a digital format that can be uploaded to our FTP server for us to work to. However, should you have something a little different, please contact us to discuss how to get the music safely to us. If uploading the material to our server, please ensure that it is in one of the following formats and not mp3 or mp4a etc. Ideally the audio should be either a Sound Designer II file, .aiff or .wav. If you have some variation on these, please contact us.
There are many ways you can give us your material. You could simply give us a stereo file of the mix and we can set to work. However, there are some other alternatives such as Stem mixing. There are many ways in which this can be broken down. Essentially stem mixing means that you provide the mastering engineer with the mix, including the mixing engineer’s EQ, compression and reverb, in stereo pairs. So the stems might be as follows:
– Backing Vocals
However the best ideal stem system for us should appear like this: – Your Mix – Main Vocal (no backing vocals) – No Main Vocals (with backing vocals) – No Vocals at all (Instrumental) For more details and to discuss this please contact us.
This is not a service we can provide as this is managed internationally and operated nationally by appointed operators. For the UK this is PPL. To obtain your ISRC codes, please go to PPL’s ISRC website – http://www.ppluk.com/I-Make-Music/Why-Should-I-Become-A-Member/What-is-an-ISRC/. They will ask you to provide them with certain bits of information… Once you have the producer code part of the ISRC please pass that to us.
Obtaining your codes does not usually take a great deal of time to obtain and are free to the user. It would be best to be prepared and consider these at the beginning of the mastering so they can be ready when we complete our CD image for you. PPL will make you aware of your obligations as the owner of these recordings and ISRC codes.
Whilst we’d like to offer this service we are unable to act on client’s behalf. The barcode association would prefer we did not do this on your behalf. To get your own Barcode, please visit and telephone them on +44 (0) 20 7092 3500 saying that you would like to purchase a barcode for an audio CD. These were £25 when we investigated, although prices may alter from time to time. These take a little time, so we would suggest that you get in touch with GS1UK as soon as possible at the start of the mastering project so that the code is ready for when we burn your CD image. For more details, do not hesitate to contact us.
Licensing from PRS for Music In the UK it is wise to discuss with PRS for Music (formerly the MCPS-PRS Alliance) whether you need a licence to sell to the public. If you’re a band or solo artist start here. Alternatively for a wider range of options for other areas such as production music etc. please look here.