Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

I’m on a tight budget. Do you offer discounts? 

We know that artists need to think twice about where they spend their hard earned cash.  A lower price is always easy to find, whether it’s a factory-farm mastering house, a place that charges by the minute while hiding fees in (requisite) output files, or even ‘some guy who uses Ozone.’  Dedicated professional mastering houses cannot offer quality while maintaining their gear, room, and expenses if they charge bottom dollar rates. 

But a cheap price won't make your recording compete with real artists — it's the professionalism, experience, tuned studio, and custom gear that combine to leave a lasting impression.  We don't skimp – even on small things like power cables, converters, and dedicated software applications - so you can remain focused on your release and rest assured your music will make an amazing first impression.

Every project is different.  We encourage you to write or call us to discuss rates/estimations of project costs.  We do require payment in full before audio or master assets can be released.

What payment formats do you accept?

We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards, as well as JCB. You can use PayPal, but we need to know your account address so we can invoice you through Paypal.  

How long does mastering take?

How long is a piece of string?  It depends.  In general version one can be back to you within a few days, and depending on revisions and spacing, a project can be wrapped up in a week or two.   Every project is different.  We’ve mastered things in as little as one day and have worked on projects that have lasted months. 

I’m in a rush, can you work faster?

We do offer rush fees and do encounter true emergencies, but we’ll need to discuss the specifics.

I’ve booked my release party, can you get my masters back in time?

You should not book your release party until the mastering is finished.  That provides you with time to proof artwork, line up critical reviews, promote the release on various media and make sure you have lots of humans excited to come to your release party.   If you plan on doing a vinyl release you will need even longer lead times due to press lead times.  Do not book your release party before mixing is finished.  How will you generate publicity for the record without he masters in hand?  

I know my schedule is cutting it close, can you help me out?

Actually, people that schedule their mastering ahead of time can avoid rush fees.  Contact us for details.  (Generally pre-scheduling is six weeks or more in advance of the mastering).

Can we pay you from the money we make at our CD release party?

Unfortunately, our commercial vendors (insurance, utilities, repair team, etc. . . ) provide us with zero leniency when our bills are due. Consequently we must have payment before the masters can be released.  

Why can’t my mixing engineer master my files?

Well, he or she can.  You can drive with your feet, too.  But that doesn’t make it a good idea.

At this point the mixing engineer has listened to your record how many times? Dozens?  Hundreds? We hear things with fresh ears.  We have different speakers and a tuned room.  Things that got past mixing stick out to us.  Also, mastering is all we do.  We do hundreds of records a year.  We know what is generally accepted as “a finished sound.”  This is a different type of listening and different set of skills than those used in mixing.  For that reason we do not offer mixing in our mastering suite.  That’s a different part of the process.

What is MFiT?  Can I just give iTunes my CD files?

Treelady Mastering is an approved Apple Mastered for iTunes studio.  That means we can provide Apple / iTunes with high-resolution files that are optimized for the iTunes store.   These files will sound better than simply sending Apple your regular CD files.  This is for two reasons:  first, we send an optimized file that considers the Apple Codec algorithm that is used to generate the files sold by iTunes.  Second we provide higher resolution files that contain more information.  By starting with more information that what is contained on CDs, the resulting files will sound better to the end user.

To do an MFiT release you will need an approved mastering engineer (e.g. Treelady) and you will need an aggregator (firm that submits files to Apple) that participates in the MFiT program (e.g. CD Baby).

What type of file formats do you accept?

We prefer 24-bit stereo files that are rendered at whatever sample rate is used for the mixing session (do not sample rate convert).  You engineer if welcome to contact us for more information.

How loud do you want the mix files?

Well, if your mixing engineer gives us files that come in in the neighborhood of -12 LUFS, we will have room to use our analog gear while still preserving the intent of the mix.  We’ve found that 90% of pro mixers give us files in that range as a matter of course.  Their experience plus gear gain staging land them there.

However, we’ve received files that were -28 LUFS and some as loud ad -5 LUFS.  Some engineers have valid reasons why they mix to the loudness that the do.  We don’t want to tell professionals how they choose to conduct their process.   So we’ll work with what you give us.  But realize the louder the mix, the less room we have to work.  

How long do you keep my files?

We strongly implore/beseech/beg you to make three copies of your final mastered assets.  Two can be local and one should be offsite, either in a secure cloud, bank safe deposit box, or another location.  You should also keep up on the latest thought leadership on digital file lifespan.  These are your assets.  We are not a storage company and do not make any claims or warranties regarding the long term storage of your audio. 

Treelady Mastering Edit Policies

The following policies help us keep our rates lower and reduce errors.    If you don’t want to follow these, we do have lock-out sessions that cost 5x our normal rates and do not include revisions. 

1.  Do not stream the masters.  They are full-sized WAV files.  Most phones and tablets will not play this audio correctly.   Download them.

2. Your phone, wireless headphones, and small device are not primary evaluation speakers.  This is important, use large speakers you trust.  Many people also check in their car, on a laptop, or with headphones, but those are in addition to bigger speakers.  This is important.

3. All edit information must be conveyed in email.  We keep all of your notes in a central place.  We will loose or mis-interpret communications sent through text or social media.  This is important.

4. We can do singles.  We can do EPs and CDs.   But if you send us one song at a time over a long period, trying to match them back to a CD or cohesive group is going to be a difficult task.   This isn’t about billing. We can bill you for all this time.  However, trying to match singles as if they are on a CD requires knowing which song serves as the keystone, which songs are outliers, and agreeing on how to make them cohesive.  This is task is exceedingly difficult after the fact.

5. If you want to pre-release a single ahead of the full CD, that is fine, but see rule 4. 

6. If you have a deadline, we need to know.  That’s why we ask on the client questionnaire.

7. Do not book a release date without the masters in hand.  Manufacturing can have unforeseen issues.  We’ve seen bands hold a CD release party without the CDs in hand. 

8. Do NOT rush this process because you’re frustrated with how long its been since you started recording the release.   Once you release the music it has escaped.  It is gone.  You cannot recall it.  Do not release something for the sake of releasing it.

9. Artists working without a producer often continue to make changes forever.  You’re making it different, not better.   Know when to say “done.” 

10. If you have questions ask us.  We work on hundreds of projects a year.  Everyone is at a different point in their career.  We don’t know what you do and don’t know.  Please feel free to ask.

Have a question we should answer?  Contact us and let us know!