No, I will not submit your master to the plant* . . .
This situation is one of the worst levels of horror for a mastering engineer - even worse than being fired from a job. It is the number one reason why most mastering engineers will not submit the master parts directly to the plant.
We’ve had this happen to twice in the past decade. The first time, we paid for the CD run, even though I admonished the producer and the artist to double check the master. Consequently, we started adding warnings on all of master CD cases: client assumes all responsibility for the master. The second time, the client sent me an email (the morning of my father’s funeral!) He had a last-minute change to the track order. I didn't see the email, and generated a master with the original order. The artist didn’t check to the reference master or the track log, and the CDs were wrong. He made me pay for the re-run. At that point, I lost my mind, called my attorney, and added more warnings in our contracts, on our web page, and on the master CD cases. Although we do a quality assurance check, the artist is responsible for one last level of scrutiny before submitting their master to the plant.
Here is where critics point out that big mastering houses have Quality Assurance (QA) teams who check all parts. Some studios charge big money to check your master, if they agree to do it at all. Furthermore, the QA team can only use the track order on hand, which leads back to the artist. If a CD, DDP, or file has a defect, we replace it. If the order is wrong, and we were told about it, we’ll replace the master and overnight it to the plant at our expense. However, we will not pay for re-runs.
Recently, a band left a note on my answering machine telling me to change the order of a CD. I never got the message. However, I supplied them with master two weeks before the deadline. They submitted it without listening to the masters or reading the order printed on the track sheets. I offered to send a replacement via FedEx (at my expense), but the producer intervened and said "No way! You (the band) are responsible for your final masters.”
I insist artists provide written track lists. I try to print things out and triple check everything. I don’t want anything to go wrong. I try to give people their masters and track sheets before their deadline so we have reaction time to fix anything. If there is a problem, I correct it at my expense. But once an artist signs off on a master, they assume responsibility for the accuracy and correctness of the product. Other industries have similar procedures. From architecture to software development to audio production, professionals must have a way to transfer responsibility.
*We submit masters to the plant, however the client is responsible for ANY issues. ANY. A. N. Y.
-Garrett Haines (www.treelady.com)
AN IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT MASTER CDs
All CDR's are physically guaranteed. YOUR part of mastering is to take your reference CDR and listen to it on different systems to evaluate the sound, spacing between songs, edits, etc. After you have approved your reference CDR, then it is YOUR part of quality control to listen to the actual master CDR you accept from us to be sure it's 100% perfect for you. We would have to charge you for the time to listen "start to finish" to your CD (Treelady Studios is not alone in this policy. Some mastering studios charge up to $500 an hour to do a final QA check). So in order to save you that cost, we hold YOU responsible for making the FINAL APPROVAL of the disc you will submit to any replication or duplication plant. Remember, this is a last chance to make sure there are no problems with the master before it is used to make your CDs! We will fix any mistake or error on our part at no charge, but we assume no liability for anything you accept from us. Here's why: It is very rare, but on occasion, a click, gap or other unexpected sonic issue may occur in the audio on the disc that may or may not be caused by faulty media. Treelady Studios cannot be held liable for these errors. To reiterate, if an audio error is found on a disc, the disc will be replaced at no charge to you. Therefore, it is highly suggested that you take your replication master disc and listen to it at least one time "from beginning to end" on a quality CD player, through quality loudspeakers or headphones - remembering to also check for correct placement of track start locations. Your part is also to keep your masters totally clean and free from scratches or dust! Do not listen to your master in a moving vehicle, as scratches commonly occur in those cases. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know immediately.
WE CANT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH ABOUT MASTER CDs POLICY
Treelady Studios will not be responsible if there is a problem with the CD once you approve it. We will not pay to have your CDs re-run. We will not be financially responsible for: clicks, pops, track order changes, mix changes, etc. Treelady Studios will not submit your CD Master / DDP or final part to the manufacturer. If, for some reason, Treelady is required to submit directly to the manufacturer, you agree that Treelady Studios is not responsible for any issue, defect, or problem with the master. Treelady Studios will not be financially responsible for any errors, reprints, re-runs, or replacements. By hiring Treelady Studios you agree to these terms unless you receiving a revocation in writing.
Seriously, we are not responsible if there is a problem other than a non-readable CD.
Have we mentioned we are not responsible for anything other than the technical readability of the CD?