Should I Master My Beats for Selling?
Do you want to sell beats but are confused about whether you should upload mastered or unmastered versions. Stick around, here’s what you need to know.
Mastered VS. Unmastered for Artists
The mastered version is at full volume. It’s how the beat will eventually sound as a final production, and the aim is to sell it to someone to record vocals over.
When they record vocals they’re going to be recording at a lower level, then mix the vocals, then blend them into the beat. If all they’ve got is a mastered version they’ll have to master the vocals to bring them up to level to meet the beat. This is fine if you have a skilled mix engineer who can EQ certain frequencies out of the mastered beat to make space for the vocals and blend it all nicely together.
In a perfect world however, the artist would be better recording over an unmastered beat, using the same EQ skills to blend the vocal into the beat, make them sit nice together then bring up the volume in mastering all as one process seeing the whole production as a single entity.
So whats the answer,
and does it matter.
For the sake of sound quality, yes to a point.
In that perfect world scenario the mix engineer has so much more control, so much more headroom to play with.
They can use compression to make changes to the beat in order for the vocal to sit right, which is a problematic thing to do to an already compressed mastered version.
They can use expanders to bring out certain features in the unmastered beat if needed.
And most importantly they have full control over the loudness of the beat from the mix process through to the mastering stage.
Furthermore, its even better to send stems as a good mix engineer can reconstruct the beat and make it even better, all the while having the greatest degree of control over how the vocal sits.
So what should you do?
Step 1. Get a great sounding mix with -6db headroom and save that as an unmastered WAV file
Step 2. Perform mastering and save as a mastered MP3 file.
Step 3. When you sell it, send both. When you upload it for streaming, use the mastered version.
This way rappers can get a sense of how it’ll sound at full volume. But when they buy they’ll have the best quality version to record over.
You can charge extra for selling a version that comes with stems. These are your exported track-out files without any mix bus compression or mastering plugins on. Serious artists will be prepared to pay for this service.
So whats the verdict?
Concentrate on giving the artist the chance to see his ultimate vision by letting them hear the mastered loud version, but give the artist and his mix engineer the best audio quality you can by providing them with the raw unmastered audio.
The end product will showcase you as a producer in your best light, and the artist and his engineer will see you as an audio professional and keep coming back for more.
Think music quality, and your fans will remember the quality music.
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