MasteringIt’s perhaps important to remind ourselves from time to time that New Music Strategies are not simply about selling, promoting or distributing music online. Sometimes, the online environment can make all sorts of other efficiencies and services available that can be of tremendous help to music business.

While it may not be feasible to professionally record music in the studio over the internet (though, actually, that’s a much more complicated topic that it may appear), there are production-end professional music services that can be delivered online.

There’s a range of companies — professional studios, mind — that will master your album or individual tracks for a very reasonable rate, without you having to go to London, or sit in a very expensive studio all day. It works well for them, of course (or you, if this is an area your studio would like to move into): a greater range of potential clients, and superb use of otherwise wasted downtime.

For the client, online mastering is an inexpensive way of getting your tracks sounding as good as they possibly can before unleashing them on an appreciative world. We’re talking as little as £35 per track to smooth out, punch up, add sparkle and make consistent across the album.

What is mastering? According to the Music Biz Academy:

Once you have finished recording and mixing your songs, the tracks are shaped, sculpted, scooped, equalized, compressed, and finessed into sonic splendor (well, you hope) through the audio process known as mastering. Mastering is what gives depth, punch, clarity and volume to your tracks. It is part science, part craft, and part alchemy. . . just like songwriting, singing, performing and recording.

It’s not a magic bullet, and nor is it a cure-all to hide all the blemishes in your mix, but it can add polish, punch and clarity. Mastering is, in the words of an engineer friend of mine, the audio equivalent of cleaning the windows.

How the online version works is this:

1) Upload your tracks to their server (WAV or AIFF)
2) Select your product (CD master / digital tracks / vinyl production parts…)
3) Pay the money
4) Receive your professionally mastered recording, ready for pressing and distribution

No booking weeks ahead, no travel or delivery costs — and you get the choice of studios. Here are a few to get you started:

    Omni Online Mastering
    Mastering World
    Xarc Mastering

While it’s difficult to polish a turd, mastering can make all the difference between a good song and a great-sounding track. Even if you only plan on releasing your music as mp3s from your website, I’d recommend getting it professionally mastered if you can possibly manage it.

And this would be a cost-effective way of doing that.