Music Supervisors And Mastering Your Tracks

Posted by Aaron Davison on Monday, February 11, 2013 Under: February 2013


Today’s post is a new post from our Resident Producer and Audio Engineer Specialist, Gary Gray, who is about to release a new book called “30 Years In 30 Days; Discover 30 Years Of Music Production and Audio Engineering Secrets In Just 30 Days!”  (More on that soon) Gary and I have been working on several projects together and I asked him last week if there have been any recent changes in the Audio Production world in terms of Music Licensing.  Not only did he say yes, he answered by writing a full Blog on the subject called “Music Supervisors And Mastering Your Music.”  So, to help us all keep our finger on the pulse of the Music Production side of Music Licensing, I turn the floor over to Gary.  

What’s the latest word in Production and Engineering Gary?


That’s a great question Aaron.  My first answer is some very important information that is confirmed 100% by YOUR latest course (I take all of your courses by the way) called “How To Pitch Directly To Music Supervisors”.

In your course, CBS Sports Music Coordinator Joseph Miller says something very interesting:

“You need to find a way to separate yourself from this already over-saturated industry.  How are you going to make yourself stand out?  Is your music Really ready?  The first thing a Music Supervisor is going to listen to is the Quality of the recording.” 

(I highly recommend Aaron’s course to anyone reading this blog)

Lindsay Fellows, Music Supervisor for movies like The Avengers, Bridge to Terabithia, and Journey to the Center of the Earth, recently gave these words of advice:

"It’s very important to get your tracks mastered. It’s a good spend. You end up with a volume level that is going to be competitive with major label commercial releases. A lot of indie stuff I get is 30 decibels lower than major releases. It’s flat and it doesn’t pop, which isn’t good."

Now, Lindsay is obviously exaggerating the numbers (30 dB), BUT, it’s NOT an exaggeration to say it SOUNDS like a 30 dB difference.  In fact, it sounds like MORE than 30 dB when you’ve struggled and sweated and worked for hours and hours on your mix. . . and then you compare it to your favorite commercial recording, thinking you’ve finally created a competitive masterpiece – only to be frustrated again because your track, no matter what you do, will not play back as LOUD as the commercial competition!!

This Blog is an answer to your question regarding any recent changes in the Music Licensing world regarding Production and Engineering.  And the above might not sound like anything new that we haven’t already heard before. 

However, something HAS changed and I’m going to let you in on what that change is and on some tips and tricks and secrets that can help end any frustration you may be experiencing.  And, if you can’t afford to have someone else master your tracks, or if you’d like to master them yourself, I’m going to show you how to Do It Yourself!



In the Course, “How To Produce Music That Will Get Licensed And Make You Money,” I point out that if one learns how to Master FIRST, then one will become a much better Mixing Engineer.  It may sound a bit backwards, but it’s HIGHLY WORKABLE.  Consider this:  Mastering is far, far easier than Mixing –  A typical Mixing Session can involve hundreds of individual decisions by the Mixing Engineer;  Some mixing sessions contain 20 to 50 (or more) separate tracks to deal with. You end up with countless EQ decisions on each track, what plug-ins to use on each track , which tracks to duplicate, where to pan each track, what parts should be deleted on each track, what parts should be repeated on each track, when each track should enter the song, when each track should end off, which tracks should be totally deleted, should more tracks be added to complete the arrangement and overall sound and style of the song? etc., etc., etc.

In a typical Mastering session, you may have many decisions to make, but the number of decisions are tiny compared to a Mixing session!! In a typical Mastering Session, you only have ONE track you are dealing with – the Stereo File of your Mix! And yet, Mixing is always taught before Mastering!  The hardest and most complicated procedure is taught before the most simple procedure.

All of my students learn Mastering First.

Not only is Mastering easier to teach and easier to learn, but the student will know exactly HOW TO APPROACH HIS MIXES and WHAT IS IMPORTANT AND WHAT IS NOT IMPORTANT during every one of his Mixing Sessions.  His CONFIDENCE will be very high – which is vitally important when mixing. 

You can HEAR when someone is uncertain or second-guessing themselves when you listen to a Mix.  And that is when Music Supervisors say, “No.”


For various reasons, there are Producers and Engineers who have decided not to share their “secrets” and “tips” and “tricks” with anyone.  (That’s the subject for another day; another Blog).

Right now, I’m going to give you the real deal – the way it is being done now and why it is being done that way now – when it comes to Mastering Music for Music Supervisors in this highly competitive market.


If you Google “Loudness Wars” you will find some fascinating articles and forums and videos which go into great detail regarding the arguments and fights that people have had and still have over how the Volume of recordings has slowly creeped up more and more and more over the last 10 years and how that has affected the music industry.  Fascinating?  Yes.  Worth researching?  No.  Worth arguing about?  That’s up to you.

What IS important right now is this:

Here is a Fact:  To the average Music Supervisor today, the Loudness of a track IS important.  The market is so competitive, that no matter how good your music is, if it’s not perceived to be as loud as tracks submitted by Major Labels and established Film Score, Video Score and Commercial Composers and Producers, than it will be rejected 99% of the  time.  Period.   The other 1% will be a response telling you the track’s quality isn’t up to par.   Reason?  No one in the Music Licensing assembly line has the time or the resources to Master your music for you.  

In : February 2013 

Tags: mastering  mixing  engineering  licensing  supervisors 
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