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'Bear Basics - The Masters Series Pt 6:' by Tony Mantz

Author: Tony Mantz
Friday, 28 July 2006
Hi there again,

Sorry for my absence….lot's been going on but I'm pleased to say I'm back.

This month I was going to talk about mastering as a possible career opportunity for you.
I'm amazed how few dedicated mastering places there are out there given the population of this country.

By dedicated, I mean mastering houses that are working exclusively on mastering (not offering it as an adjunct to another service), with predominantly analogue outboard gear.

I have often wondered why. The first thing that comes to mind is that mastering does not enjoy the profile and prestige that, say, being a mix engineer or record producer does.

On the odd occasion I get to opportunity to speak to audio students about mastering, there generally doesn't seem to be a high turnout for these talks. The ones that do attend, however, usually leave with a new appreciation, having discovered that mastering is something worth aspiring to.

So what's so kewl about this gig- Well for starters you are at the end of the whole creative process. You get to see the album take shape into the final form that Joe Punter will hear.
There is certainly some responsibility there but it's a buzz knowing that the audio you hear on the radio or accompanying a video clip or DVD is your work.

Unlike tracking or mixing, mastering is not an overly time consuming and laborious process. Of course there are those rare exceptions but not enough to put you off my any stretch of the imagination.

You also get to work with a wide variety of music and meet a diverse range of people. About 50% of my work is not attended by the client, as they are from interstate or overseas, but the interaction you have with people during this process is fun.

It is expensive to set up a proper, dedicated mastering studio. My studio, for instance, ran into the hundreds of thousands. But it's worth it. You, of course, don't have to spend that much. For a modest amount you can set up a reasonable mastering studio for less than a recording studio, and your return is much better. Coupled with the fact that there is less competition, you have a better chance to carve a career for yourself.

Remember, by competition I mean places that do NOTHING else but mastering. People have more confidence in going to a specialist. Sure they can save some $$$$$ by going to a one stop shop but there a lot of people who want good quality and will pay a reasonable amount for it. The market determines your worth so don't be afraid to ask for a fair amount.

You can always work down in price, but never up. The value people place on you will be a reflection of how highly you value yourself. For me, I always said I would go high end even though I got my collection piece by piece.

Getting a name for yourself is another story but it can be done. All it takes to really get the ball rolling are a few releases that receive some profile and that people can identify with. And the funny thing is you can never tell which record you cut will be the one.

Next edition I'll give you some ideas as to the basic things you're going to need if you're serious about starting a mastering facility.

The pie is big and getting bigger. There's plenty for all our snouts……

Catch ya on the flipside.

Tony Mantz aka Jack The Bear has been a mastering engineer since 1981 and his clients include a who's who of Melbourne, Australian and international artists and record labels.
For more info email mastering@jackthebear.com.au Myspace page: www.myspace.com/jackthebearmastering
or check out his website at the link below.

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