Mastering for Music Libraries

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This topic contains 25 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Michael Nickolas 4 days, 15 hours ago.

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  • #25544 Reply

    TerlinguaMusic
    Participant

    First of all, thanks for all the great info here- I’ve been lurking and reading/studying. This site and its members is an amazing resource for climbing the learning curve. I’ve got 40+ years experience in the music biz, but the library biz is a separate and unique terrain.

    I’ve put together a small library- 35 tunes- in the last month and am starting the process of contacting libraries, submitting tracks, etc.

    Here are my questions:

    1. Some sites, notably AS, but it seems to be ubiquitous, appear to remaster the tracks- they sound thin and “hot” with aural exciter sizzle. Do you master your tracks to emulate that sound or is that done by the library?

    2. Received wisdom is to make tracks as loud as they can be. For some acoustic tracks, that kinda kills the buzz. Have you noticed any correlation between apparent loudness (and decreased dynamic range) and sales?

    3. A couple of the libraries I’m submitting to are asking for 16/44.1 waves. Is this the industry standard? Is there an industry standard? (I was expecting 48 for video).

    Thanks!

    #25551 Reply

    Edouardo
    Participant

    For point number 2 (loudness): I come originally from the electronica world . When I started looking into the library bizz, 3 years ago, I submitted a dozen completed electronic tracks I had already completed. these were as loud as I could make them (it fits the style). Got a few sales, but nothing compared to what I get today. Now, I am very careful about loudness. Yes it kills the buzz when you are not doing techno, but more importantly, too loud a track, less space for the customer :

    I am very prudent with loudness during the mastering phase. Think about the use for your track. Regardless of the style of music, it is often to be used as background music, so the track should breathe and leave the space to whatever the customer wants to do with it. Mastered too loud, dynamics go down, and the music fills up all the space. I actually prefer spending time on the mix, and when I master, I make sure to leave some dynamics… even with Goa Trance!

    Strangely, my best sellers are far from being the best sounding tracks (regardless of the composition itself). I noticed that too much sparkle could also hinder sales (in the RF world I mean). It goes a little bit against my sense of aesthetics, but if you want to sale, the first thing to have in mind is what the customer will want to do with the music he or she purchases.

    I actually started a video channel of Physics lessons for high school students preparing their end diplomas. Naturally I used my music tracks, and it was quite enlightening to put myself in the shoes of a user when selecting the track I would use on thsi or that video! I understood now why some of my best tracks wouldn’t sell, and why some of the average ones do really well!

    Hope this helps and good luck !

    #25552 Reply

    TerlinguaMusic
    Participant

    thanks.

    #25557 Reply

    MichaelL
    Participant

    1. Some sites, notably AS, but it seems to be ubiquitous, appear to remaster the tracks- they sound thin and “hot” with aural exciter sizzle. Do you master your tracks to emulate that sound or is that done by the library?

    That’s a false assumption. I don’t know of any RF sites, including AS, that remaster tracks. Given that there are thousands of composers and hundreds of thousands of tracks it would be absolutely cost prohibitive. Most RF libraries are simply sales platforms. They do not get involved on the individual track level beyond accepting or rejecting and some don’t even do that once you’re accepted by the library.

    When it comes to RF sites you are dealing with thousands of DIY composers with a wide range of equipment and production skills, everything from top pros to hobbyists. It’s not a controlled environment.

    With respect to “dynamic range” and sales, you may be over thinking that. It’s never a good idea for tracks to sound fake or lifeless, but having a track that goes from ppp to FFF could be a problem. More significant factors in generating RF sales are your metadata (track descriptions + keywords) and your titles. It doesn’t matter how brilliant your track is if no one can find it.

    With RF libraries you’re dealing with a wide range of clients, from top ad agencies to YouTubers and wedding videos. 16/44.1 is the most accessible format to all levels of consumer.

    #25558 Reply

    TerlinguaMusic
    Participant

    that’s good information. thank you so much.

    and, I am probably over-thinking the whole project. when I click on “most popular” at Pond5 and AS, the tracks are uniformly thin and seem to have aural exciter… sizzle highs.

    if it’s not done at the library level, it must be fashionable for the composers.

    #25560 Reply

    PolarSounds
    Participant

    when I click on “most popular” at Pond5 and AS, the tracks are uniformly thin and seem to have aural exciter… sizzle highs.

    Maybe its the lo-res mp3 encoding used for previews you are hearing?

    #25561 Reply

    MichaelL
    Participant

    Maybe its the lo-res mp3 encoding used for previews you are hearing?

    +1

    #25578 Reply

    Michael Nickolas
    Participant

    FWIW- I master my production music tracks to achieve between -3 and -4dB attenuation from the limiter/maximizer, then use my ears to make the final determination.

    #25579 Reply

    So mastering per the style of music really doesn’t matter that much?

    It sounds like a good level with leaving some headroom is a norm for library tracks, right?

    My finish mixes have the highest peaks barely hitting the outer edge of the waveform.

    Most styles I master the highest peaks slightly over -10dBRMS. For Pop I might go a dB or 2 higher. For Jazz and Classical I try to stay at -10dBRMS max.

    https://db.tt/qgbQPpUa

    #25580 Reply

    StevieBlunder
    Participant

    I was wondering about specific loudness. Do folks here master to the EBU R128 specs and ,if so, do you adhere to the recommended -23 LUFS level using a meter? I’ve only had a few placements in cable reality TV and they were before I even considered this guidance. My tracks were far hotter

    #25581 Reply

    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    Some good info here on levels https://musiclibraryreport.com/forums/topic/loudness-standards-in-trailers-and-metering/. That thread covers more than trailer music.

    #25583 Reply

    Wall_E
    Participant

    Do folks here master to the EBU R128 specs and ,if so, do you adhere to the recommended -23 LUFS level using a meter?

    +1 I’m interested too

    #25586 Reply

    woodsdenis
    Participant

    Do folks here master to the EBU R128 specs and ,if so, do you adhere to the recommended -23 LUFS level using a meter?
    +1 I’m interested too

    https://tech.ebu.ch/docs/r/r128-2014.pdf

    EBU R128 deals with program/broadcast loudness on TV and is primarily concerned with Tv shows and commercials. It doesn’t affect library music, if you are lucky enough to have a track soloed on a show it would be up to the show producer to be EBU R128 compliant, not you.

    There is another can of worms however with iTunes and Spotify loudness normalisation which basically means that tracks limited very heavily will sound lower than tracks which are not.

    Always use your ears, personally I aim for between -7 to -10 RMS depending on the source.

    #25587 Reply

    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    Always use your ears, personally I aim for between -7 to -10 RMS depending on the source.

    Me, -8 to -12 RMS but, as Denis said, use your ears.

    #25594 Reply

    Michael Nickolas
    Participant

    So mastering per the style of music really doesn’t matter that much?

    Yes, it does. After achieving the basic attenuation, I use my ears to be sure it is making sense in context of the style. Back when I used to master for CD release, I set my loudnees by getting all the songs on the CD even sounding, and as close to a commercial release in the same style as possible. I don’t usually do this for library tracks, but something to consider if you’re looking for a level setting

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