If you want to give your music the final polish and professional edge to stand-out in the marketplace, then you need quality mastering.

Mastering is last stage before your music is ready for the world to hear. It does far more than simply increase the loudness as many are aware of. It adds punch, clarity, and fine-tunes your music into the perfect sound.

Many musicians are aware of the importance of mastering. It can sometimes make or break the success of your music. When done right right, it ensures it makes the right impression.

However, trouble comes when deciding where and how to get it done.

Traditionally, you had to use an offline studio. This meant you were at the mercy of the quality in your local area.

Sometimes you might get lucky, but most of the time you had to shell-out major bucks to get top quality and personal service.

Today, the software to allow you to do it yourself has improved. You can now make small improvements on your home computer.

The problem with this is that you can often make the music sound much worse on your own. You lack the heavy duty equipment a professional has. And, most importantly, you don’t get the “fresh independent and professional ears” to identify problems and help you achieve your final vision.

You’re on your own. The best is not brought-out in your music.

However, in the past 4 years a new option has grown in popularity: Getting your music mastered with online-only mastering houses.

You can now access world-class talent no matter where you live. And since online studios save money on the costs of a brick and mortar storefront, your investment is much less than if you did it offline.

There are generally 3 steps to working with an online mastering house:

1. Create an account and transfer your music over to the engineer.

2. The mastering engineer can then listen to it and give you his or her first impressions and tell if there are any major problems. Sometimes music must be sent back to the mixing engineer or, in rare cases, re-recorded.

3. Through discussing your final vision, the engineer makes it happen and instantly sends your music back online for you to review. Any revisions can be easily made.

As you can see, the advantage is there is a lot less waiting on your part. You tell the engineer what you want, go about your daily business, and he or she makes your vision come to life. Everything happens instantly online without you having to be in the studio.

Simply put, going online is an ideal choice for independent muscians or small labels. It allows you easy access to world-class talent (once only the “big guys” had access too) for less money and fewer hassles.

In addition, since online houses have clients from throughout the world, they’re also experienced with a wide-range of sounds. Often a limitation with local studios is they’ve worked with only one or two types of music and lack expertise with anything else.

To find a good online mastering studio, it’s important you look for experience. If an engineer is just getting started, be wary. He or she may not have the right equipment (or know how to use it) and does not know the techniques which are gained over time to optimize your tracks.

When it comes to picking a mastering engineer, experience is the key to getting a great result.

About the Author:
Lorenz Vauck is an Audio Mastering Engineer, Musician, and Internet Entrepreneur from Dresden, Saxony, Germany. He is the Managing Director and Chief Engineer of XARC Mastering, one of the world’s first on-line process audio mastering companies established in 2003.