I recently visited Atlanta for the annual A3C Hip Hop Conference. For those of you who are not familiar, it is a five day event that includes great workshops, networking and artist performances throughout the entire week. Thousands of artists converge on downtown Atlanta and of course, almost all of them spend time passing out their music in various formats (mainly and surprisingly, still CDs). Well this year me and my homie HiJinks decided to actually listen to EVERY SINGLE CD we were passed. Yep, thats right we did it. In between our stops through out the week we popped in random CDs and gave our MC brethren a chance to impress us.
Jinks would laugh as I would not give a CD a fighting chance to stay in my deck for more than 30 seconds. It wasn’t because the artists were actually trash…it was that their music SOUNDED like trash. Inversely, I would give CDs far more play when I could tell they were actually mixed and MASTERED correctly.
What is mixing and mastering you ask? Well I am not going to attempt to break down the science on that. I will leave that to my personal engineer, Manuel Roessler, who is one of the best in the biz. He will tell you about decibel levels, frequency blends, head room and compression. I myself will give it to you in laymen’s terms. From an emcee’s point of view, and even a casual listener’s point of view, good mixing and mastering serves the same purpose as a good NBA referee. They get the job done, but you don’t even realize they are there.
This is one of the single most important and overlooked aspects of music that most indie artists don’t take serious enough. Its not enough that you are getting it mixed and mastered, but it has to be done CORRECTLY. Even producers have to get their instrumentals mixed properly before trying to shop them for real placements.
In a nutshell mastering will have your song being able to be played in a dj’s mix and not stand out because the volume is super low or it doesn’t sound distorted when turned up loud. It is that fine line between sounding “ON” or sounding “LOCAL”.
If you are an independent artist in need of dope mastering contact Manuel Roessler at his website, www.roessler-mastering.com