Should I have my beats mastered before I sell them?

This is a question I receive quite often. Should I get my rap or hip-hop beats mastered before I release them for sale on my website, soundclick, beatport, etc.? Well the answer is…it depends. How seriously do you take your music? Would you like to make a living off of your beats or is it more of a hobby? Do you want your beats to stand with the best? If you feel your music deserves to reach its full potential, then audio mastering is absolutely essential.

What is Mastering?

Audio mastering is the final stage in the production of a song or album. A mastering engineer uses a careful combination of compression, equalization, and limiting to adjust and enhance your mix. If needed, mastering can add clarity, punch, warmth, depth, loudness, and stereo width to your mix. A skilled mastering engineer is a second set of ears for your production, using his/her expertise to give you mix exactly what it needs to sound as professional and commercial as possible. Additionally, mastering will ensure the best possible translation across all types of sound systems. Your beast need to sound great everywhere; in the car, in the club, or even on the PA system at your local supermarket. You want your beats to be slamming no matter where they are played!

How Will I Benefit From Professional Mastering?

The rap/hip-hop production community is heavily saturated. These days everyone and their mother makes beats, and the competition to get noticed is intense. Professional mastering will give your beats the edge they need to stand out and be noticed by big-name and well-respected artists. Successful rappers expect a certain level of quality in the beats they choose for their albums, and pro mastering will give your beats a leg-up on the competition. Mastering will ensure that your beats have the low-end punch, clarity and loudness that is expected from a pro-level production.

How to Chose A Great Mastering Engineer?

Do your homework! Go online and review the websites of various mastering engineers and send your track off from some free mastering samples. Most mastering studios offer a free sample master of 60-90 seconds of your track. This will give you an idea of what type of improvement mastering can bring to your beats, and you can compare your samples to chose who did the best work. Good luck!

About The Author:

Jack Braglia is the owner and head mastering engineer at VITAL Mastering in Queens, NY, a private online mastering studio with years of experience spanning all genres including rap & hip-hop.