When a beat is completely written down and it’s about to be mixed you might have this question whether you should be mastering the beat or not. The answer lies in the fact that you are not understanding why and how mastering is done.
Mastering is done only in cases where the song, beat, or the music composition has reached an endpoint and it’s ready to be released to the world. Mastering is not done when a song or beat is at a halfway mark.
You have to look at mastering like the plating of a dish after you have cooked it. it’s perfectly fine to not understand mastering at first whether it’s required for beats or not.
When vocals are a vital component in the production of a song you cannot mess up the beat at any cost.so here’s the short answer
No, you should not master a beat before adding vocals because the dynamic capability of the beat to mix with the vocal will be crushed completely. It’s like adding eggs to a cake once it’s baked.
Once you understand what goes behind mastering you will be able to know that “oh crap!! That’s why they do it in this period of a song creation process.
Mastering a song?
Mastering a song is a tedious process that’s done once the vocals are added to the beat and the mixing engineer has mixed the song completely. In the case of making a song vocals are not the last component of the process at all. Mastering is the last step of the process in song making.
To answer the question clearly as to why you can’t master the song I have to give a small analogy.
Think about baking a cake, you add all the ingredients, and then you mix it well and bake it. One of the ingredients you will be using is eggs while mixing the flour. Imagine adding that raw egg to the top of a freshly baked cake. That’s how it sounds when you say “I will master it before adding vocals”.
You cannot do that. You will lose all the ability to modify and the control you have on the song.
Mastering is also the end process as in the plating of a dish. The vocals will not sit properly in the mix if you have already mastered your beat. This is the reason why so many artists don’t purchase a beat from some producers. The artists hear the music on YouTube and purchase the beat in beatstars and when he adds his vocals the record sounds like a big pile of poop. It’s because there is no space for the vocal to sit properly on the mix.
Mastering a beat?
This is a very different spectrum we are talking about. If an artist asks for a bunch of demos to choose from that’s when you master the beat and send it to them and notify them it’s a mastered copy. This is to make them understand how the final result might sound once the vocals are added.
You cannot and you should never master a beat if it’s going to be sent to an artist. A beat should be mastered only if it’s going to be displayed on your website as a demo track for people to listen and purchase the beat.
This is the reason why the entire major beat selling platforms like beatstars and airbit gives you an option to upload two versions of the beat, one for display and one for purchase.
Nowadays as a lot of online companies started to offer online mastering services people are confused about how to do this the right way since it’s an artistic procedure when it comes to making music.
There are no right and wrongs the result will just be a little different. You cannot do something and expect it to be something else in the end. You are welcome to add stuff but you should know the effects of each process on the end products.
One of the important things to look at while mastering a beat is not going above the loudness limit
-14LUFS and staying below it. Most producers like to crack the absolute life out of the beat.
Never do that.
Steps before mastering
Here is a normal process when mastering is done.
Arrangement of the beat
Beat mixed properly
Song is mixed
This is how the process is done.
In the beat making process, the absolute basics of the songs and foundational structures like chords and rhythms are added so they can hold the vocals together when it’s added to this mixture.
When a beat is arranged all the elements of the written beat are structured to produce a meaningful and engaging song. Btw don’t have a 7-minute intro a song. The final timing of the song can be usually predicted by this stage of the process.
The beat will be mixed properly at this stage to put all the elements together and make it sound polished. All the effects that are necessary including reverb and delays would be added and the beat is made ready for the artists to drop the vocals on top of the song.
The beat is sent to the artists and he will record multiple takes including the main vocal, seconds, and vocal chops. Once it’s recorded its send to the mixing engineer or the producer.
Songs are mixed properly by literally blending the vocals to fit together with the beat at this stage. If you have mastered the beat already your song wouldn’t even sound nice at this stage.
This is the stage where the mixed song is sent for mastering. The song is pushed to its limits to sound best in all systems and audio devices.
How well you do mastering and which plugins you use for mastering usually doesn’t matter much.
When you do mastering matters when it comes to mastering a song or a beat. You should be careful not to mess the whole song or beat.
If you are starting music production take time to understand different processes used in mastering a song.
Don’t rush in thinking this person does it online like this so this is exactly how I should do it.
You might develop a style unique to you so take time to understand and learn
If you are interested check my other articles on mastering
Maslin JE is a Music Producer/Composer Who has been working in the Music Industry for over 10 years. Having an evolution from being a church keyboardist to becoming a full-time entrepreneur he has gained an abundance of experience in music production and entrepreneurship.