Audio mastering is now a luxury everyone can access.
Simply defined, mastering is the last creative step after mixing, and a critical step that optimizes a song for different platforms like streaming and CDs. It’s the polished mix that sounds pro, and separates professional recordings from amateur bedroom productions.
Now, CD Baby has tapped CloudBounce to offer a quick solution for instant mastering. The integration is available to CD Baby users immediately, and can be accessed within the platform account dashboard.
Each track will cost a modest $4.90, with an instantly spruced-up audio track the result.
“With our new partnership with CD Baby, we can harness our audio know-how and offer our best-in-class mastering service as a directly integrated option for all CDBaby customers,” Anssi Uimonen, cofounder and CEO of CloudBounce told Digital Music News.
“This aligns perfectly with both companies’ mission to support the core creative interests of indie artists.”
CloudBounce’s mastering solution sounds simple enough, though up until recently, few could easily access and arrange a professional mastering engineer. So it wasn’t even an option for most emerging artists, or even smaller indies.
In fact, it typically wasn’t until an artist was inked by a serious label or met a knowledgeable manager that the mastering stage would be taken seriously.
That reality has changed dramatically over the past few years. The concept of automated, instant, algorithm-driven mastering is no longer the stuff of audio research, it’s a fast-growing and accessible solution. Now, companies like CloudBounce are delivering serious, algorithmically-driven solutions for automated mastering, and upping the game for millions of artists.
These automatic conversions sound convincing, and can make the difference between an iffy demo and a serious track that gets added to Spotify playlists and gets noticed by labels, agents, festivals, and fans.
The process for mastering a recording is now easier than ever. Typically, a higher-res file (like a 24-bit WAV or AIFF file) is simply uploaded onto a separate server, and within minutes, the whole mastering process is ready. Artists can then accept the final cut, or tinker with a number of settings to tweak the results.
Here’s a quick ‘before and after’ automatically created by CloudBounce, which is working with DMN to expand the industry’s understanding of the fast-changing mastering stage.
TJH87 – Wait For Us [Pre-master]
TJH87 – Wait For Us [Mastered]
TMSV x Digid – Gates [Pre-master]
TMSV x Digid – Gates [Mastered]
The instant mastering solution platform was created by industry professionals and audio engineers from Finland, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The company’s automated mastering is used by rap producers like Arkatech Beatz, whose credits include Nas, Raekwon, and Big Pun, among others.
The results are pretty obvious, and delivered instantly. But Uimonen says this isn’t a replacement for seasoned mastering engineers. When it comes to focus singles and higher-budget releases, mastering engineers are critical to the process.
Instead, Uimonen told us that “automated mastering is a perfect solution for everything else: demos, live recordings, and recordings from artists that are just getting started.”
On top of that, a professional mastering engineer can always be brought in later on recordings that were previously mastered automatically. In just one year, a band can find themselves signed, on a major festival bill, or enjoying a significant increase in fans. Luck certainly plays a factor in that, but an initial mastering certainly doesn’t hurt towards reaching those breakpoints.
Indeed, mastering can literally be make-or-break for certain artists, especially when it comes to Spotify and Apple Music playlists. A mastered recording simply sounds more professional, and is more likely to make it onto a high-trafficked playlist.
And that goes for radio-heavy platforms like Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Sirius XM, all of whom have curators combing through tracks.
CloudBounce’s mastering engine includes the most sophisticated audio processors for intelligent audio analysis and mastering.
The robust, modular mastering engine allows the creator to tackle even the toughest challenges in audio production. That includes enhancing the overall balance, eq, resonance control, and stereo imaging, while polishing the audio to a professional loudness standard, among other things.
Of course, as algorithms and mastering technology continues to mature, the ‘machine vs. human’ debates will continue to broil. But for now, there’s still a very important role for mastering pros.
For everything else, there’s an affordable and automated mastering solution with greater accessibility than ever.