In 2020, defining what mastering is has become more complicated to explain. It goes against the typical trends you have in any industry. The more established a sector in any given market is, the more evident their function within that market becomes.
With mastering, this has gone the other way round. The more mastering studios/ online mastering services/ automated “mastering” website popped up, the more confused about mastering people have got.
Well, this has to be attributed to the internet and the new generation of software.
Too many “mastering” tags have been used by services and tools which have nothing to do with the real meaning of mastering.
Having software that analyses your music and applies automatic settings, it is not mastering.
A website where you can upload your mixes and spits out 5 minutes later your “mastered” version is not mastering.
Painting by numbers with presets of some software, it is not mastering.
So, WHAT IS MASTERING?
Let’s start with the basics. The process of mastering ALWAYS involves a mastering engineer.
The same as every mixing process always involves a mixing engineer, a recording process involves a recording engineer, you see where I am going with this.
Using an automated process (e.g., in the form of templates or AI algorithms) is NOT mastering.
It is simple audio processing.
Having your music “mastered” though a website which uses AI algorythms to master your music, skips the most fundamental part of any mastering process: NO ONE has been listening to your music. Not the original mix and more imprtantly, no one has listened to the final results!
I am not here to say that these types of websites are good or bad. I am just saying that waht they offer, is mere sound processing.