We seem to be getting a lot of "shoppers" lately

Profile picture for user Thomas W. Bethel
Submitted by Thomas W. Bethel on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 12:05

We seem to be getting shopped more and more and a lot of people are wanting assurances that our mastering will REALLY improve their material they also want some form of guarantee or money back policy. (I guess it is the WALMART way so why not for mastering?)

Typical phone calls that we have received in the past month.

"Do you do mastering?" Answer YES

"What equipment do you use?" Answer what it takes to get the job done and then I normally list the BRANDS of equipment we use.

"Do you use software or hardware?" Answer both, again it depends on what I need to do the best job on your material.

"What are some names of some REALLY BIG groups or artist that your have done?" Answer it depends on who you consider to be really BIG artists then I name the current and past artist we work with.

"When can I come in and listen to some samples or can you send me a disk with before and after samples of your work?" Answer I look at my calendar or get their name and address and send them our current demo disk.

"How long will the mastering take?" Answer it depends on the mixes coming in and what you want done, short answer is about two songs per hour.

"I need to get my mastering done in the next couple of days what is your schedule like?" Answer I look up in my calendar and give them some times that I could work on their material.

"What are your rates" Answer I give them the rates for what we do.

"If I could guarantee you some additional work could you give me a better rate for this mastering" Answer I prefer to work with you first and if you bring me in additional clients we can talk about it.

"Do you have block booking rates like the recording studio I used for the recording" Answer no we do not and the reason is that recording studios give you block booking rates so you will spend a certain amount of time with them and they know in advance how much time to your project with take. We are working on your material for a short amount of time and it is scheduled in advance and we should be able to get your whole job done in one day or less.

"Do you have after hour rates?" Answer no we do not because we have an hourly rate and WHEN you work is not as important as getting the job done in a reasonable amount of time. Weekend and evenings are fine as long as they are scheduled well in advance.

"Do you charge more for attended sessions" Answer no we do not and actually prefer that you be at the sessions if at all possible for better on to one communications.

What are the names and phone numbers of current clients so I can call them and ask about your services" Answer I am sorry but that information is something that I cannot give you without the artist's permission.

"Do you guarantee your mastering and if I am not happy with it can I get my money back?" Answer sorry no I will provide the best mastering I can do but since this is my time and I have only so much time I cannot give you back money for something that is already used up. I will however do everything I can to make sure you are happy with the mastering.

"Do you offer 90 days same as cash? or can I pay for this on the installment plan" Answer no I am sorry but the money is due when we complete the mastering to your satisfaction and you take the master with you.

"My friend does mastering and he wants to be at the sessions is there a problem? Answer your friend can attend the sessions but someone has to make the final decisions on how the material sounds. I can only take guidance from one person. If you want your friend to make the decisions I need to know that up front otherwise I will seek out your input and you will be the final say in all matters having to do with the mastering.

"I don't want you to use a computer to do my mastering can you do it all in the analog domain? Answer yes and no. Yes I can do it in the analog domain but if you want to put this out on CD I have to use the computer to sequence the songs and burn the CD.

"I am a starving musician and can't afford mastering but I would like to come over and observe a mastering session so I can see what you do and then do it myself, is that possible?" Answer not really if you are not paying for a session I cannot include you into a paying client's session without their permission.

"What is the difference between what you do and what someone like Bob Ludwig would do for my material? Answer Bob Ludwig is a Grammy winning mastering engineer with lots of world class artists to his credit. He also charges about 10 times what we charge for a session. If you want to use someone else as a mastering engineer I suggest you contact them. Since ever mastering engineer is different and every project is different you may or may not like what someone else can do for your project but that is a personal decision for you to make.

And my favorite.

"I have $200 and need to get 16 songs mastered and I need to get this done TODAY can you do it? Answer no not really we are already booked for today and our rates are higher that you indicated that you could afford so I guess you will have to look elsewhere.

Anyone else seeing this lately? (also posted at PSW)

Sounds like you need a secretary to screen losers.
I'm a fat, yet poor (starving) artist trying to get a record mastered.

When I've phoned Mastering studios the conversations go like this.

Me: Hi, I want 40 minutes of music mastered, then masters prepared for vinyl. How much if I post you the files and you post me the masters back?

Them: A price.

Me: Thanks.


Why would anyone treat an Audio Engineer differently to any other Engineer you would want to contract...
I wouldn't phone an hydraulics engineer and say "I'm a starving boating enthusiast, will you design a yacht for me tomorrow for sweet FA?".

TWB, that was like a blueprint!

Anyone who has a mastering business who is not biting that is a fool.

(Sorry for the harsh words, but that spells out the whole deal. That is the info that needs to go on the website, the brochure, the voice mail hold message, etc.)