Audio trivia: Analog is sometimes spelled Analogue. Both are correct, it just depends on what part of the World we live in…
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The most common concern I hear today is, “I’d love to have you master my work, but I’m on an Indie budget”. With over 18 years of experience and a couple of thousand projects under my belt, I can understand why people might be afraid that my mastering rates are prohibitive. I usually get a sigh of relief when I answer, “Everyone I master these days is on an Indie budget”. I prefer for my clients to discuss the scope of their project and then I do my best to help make the mastering affordable. Fortunately, the Indie artist now has many opportunities never before available to promote their music. Social networking and digital distribution are at your fingertips, which in many ways has leveled the playing field to promote your music. The potential success of an Indie artist is now almost limitless, whether it be developing a fan base, live performance or placement of tracks in movies, television or commercials because your music can be heard. What I know to be true is that great sound sells. It is encouraging to me from a music lover’s standpoint that I am seeing more and more artists willing to express themselves artistically, rather than simply trying to please A&R (as was the case not too many years ago).
Another concern some clients express is that the mixes have been done in someone’s home or a project studio. They question if the mixes are “worthy” of analog mastering. If anything, these mixes need analog mastering to make the mixes come alive. The fact is that most of the mixes I receive today by even many of the best mixers in the world are done in ProTools or Logic. Admittedly, there is an art to properly mixing “in the box” to take full advantage of analog mastering. I believe that part of the job of today’s analog mastering engineer is to be willing to work together with the mix engineer to achieve a sound as great as the biggest budget records but done at affordable prices. I have found that many of the best mixes I am working on today end up being a collaborative effort, requiring me to work with the producer, artist and/or mix engineer to help them adjust their mixes to achieve the best of what Class A analog mastering has to offer. I do not ask for points for this service, just a sincerity that I am going to end up mastering the project.
I have always adhered to the principle that there is only one way to master an artist’s work. This can only be done by using the finest analog mastering gear and being completely involved with the music. I have never set a different pricing structure for an unattended session verses an attended one as I feel that the artist, band, producer and mix engineer all have the right to hear their music as it is being mastered. From a practical standpoint, many of my clients are located in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Europe, etc., so it does not mean that all of my clients can come to the session. I have not been able to meet all of my clients face to face, but everyone knows that their work gets the same amount of attention regardless of whether they can attend the session or not. I have never set an amount of time that a track takes for me to master, so I do not bill out by the hour. No two mixes are identical, so to create great sound, sometimes I have to spend a great deal of time on the music. I have never offered two levels of mastering (which I have seen some mastering houses do). I truly believe that there is only one level of quality and when you start to compromise this, especially as a mastering engineer, you lose sight of what quality means. Each genre of music, whether it be The Blues, R&B, Hip Hop, Alternative, Jazz, Symphonic, and so–on, requires an intimate understanding of the sound – and my dedication to help the artist achieve the final result they are looking for.
— Bob Lanzner