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Future of online mastering, will be replaced by AI, plug-ins, homemade lowcost guys?
Old 22nd February 2021
  #1
Gear Head
 
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Future of online mastering, will be replaced by AI, plug-ins, homemade lowcost guys?

Hello

What do you think is future of online mastering, especially now after Covid when music scene / live acts died?


will be replaced by AI, plug-ins, homemade lowcost guys?


- I see many of you are saying business is going down every year, less work.

- More and more people are doing mastering DIY at home with computers plugins they think it sounds as good as hardware

- More kids offering homemade mastering for few bucks with plug-ins

- AI mastering services doing it cheap but not so good.

- Kids are using mobilephones to listen to music doesnt care about sound quality

So will there be renaissance and people will prefer quality analog professional mastering or this industry will be dying (and only top places will remain mastering best seling artist with huge bufgets in most expensive cities of the world) ??


If you see it dark, what are your future plans? do you plan to go to other audio sub industry or quit music business at all?
Old 22nd February 2021
  #2
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scraggs's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Feel like we had this thread 5 years ago and someone was telling me I'd be out of business in 5 years. Still here, doing fine, same as ever.

Last year was busier than the year before.

Not really worried about it.
Old 22nd February 2021 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Head
 
Verified Member
Perfect, and what do you think now during/after covid?

Are you working more online or offline?

It is because you are too long in the game and have good contacts word of mouth marketing?
Old 22nd February 2021 | Show parent
  #4
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Phil Cibley's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prototech ➡️
Perfect, and what do you think now during/after covid?

Are you working more online or offline?

It is because you are too long in the game and have good contacts word of mouth marketing?
I've been experimenting with Ozone, Neutron, and RX8 at home on my mixes.
If the results I've been getting with the "assistants" in the plugins is any
indication, real experienced mastering engineers will still be here in the future.
They may only be limited to upper echelon projects, but they will still be here.
That said, in the right hands these programs will yield very good results.
Old 22nd February 2021
  #5
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Well first of all, Covid caused an increase in my mastering business. More people are writing and recording because they can't play live shows.

The trend for me has been an increase in mastering work over the last several years, so I feel absolutely no competition from AI mastering or kids on laptops.

Those cheap/fast options are competing with each other for the ultra low budget market, and those people were never going to hire me in the first place. Nothing against them - I know what it's like to be broke - but they simply have little impact on my business one way or the other. It's the same reason why mid-level guys like me have little impact on places like Sterling Sound; Most of my clients can't afford Sterling Sound so we're not even swimming in the same pool.

It was never about the kids listening on earbuds who don't know/care about sound quality. It's always been about the artists themselves who hire us to make their music sound good... good to THEM.

Last edited by Trakworx; 22nd February 2021 at 07:52 PM..
Old 22nd February 2021 | Show parent
  #6
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs ➡️
Feel like we had this thread 5 years ago and someone was telling me I'd be out of business in 5 years. Still here, doing fine, same as ever.

Last year was busier than the year before.

Not really worried about it.
I remember that thread too!

And we're all still in business, even the doomsayers.

It's funny how people see the same set of circumstances in opposite ways. The old cup half empty vs half full thing.
Old 22nd February 2021 | Show parent
  #7
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Yes because people have time now and goverments printed billions of new money (also bitcoin, stock market, houses are growing extremly while there is crisis, it is crazy) but what if corona will be here next 5-7 years as few experts predicts? new mutations etc.

Are you working mostly on-line or at place?
Old 22nd February 2021
  #8
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However long the pandemic lasts, that's how long I'll continue to benefit from it. I'll take my silver linings wherever I can find them!

I'm working exclusively online during Covid times. My local clients now send tracks instead of attending and they don't seem to mind. Revisions are not a problem when needed.
Old 22nd February 2021 | Show parent
  #9
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Perfect so mastering mostly music for listening (not dance electronic music right?). and most of your clients are from your local area or unknown from worldwide (people which you never met personally)
Old 22nd February 2021
  #10
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🎧 10 years
Yes, mostly Rock, Metal, Hip Hop and Americana here.

Around 3/4 of my clients are from my local area. Most of them were already sending tracks online even before Covid. It saves time and gas money. And Bay Area freeway traffic is no joke.
Old 22nd February 2021
  #11
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
Covid has had the opposite effect here... my business was way up last year and continues. Technology will change and impact our business. The trick is to stay ahead of the curve and diversify. I believe most labels and bands still understand the need for professional mastering. Personally, I pay zero attention to the automated services and $500/album engineers. Offer a superior service with exceptional customer service and you'll build clients for life. I understand some markets are tougher than others. I think it's a huge benefit to at least build a career in one of the larger ones (LA, Nashville, NYC in the past.) Even though the majority of mastering seems to be unattended it's still helps to be in a major music market. So much of my business was built on casual meetings with bands and label folks. That's a lot harder when you're in the middle of nowhere.
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #12
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 
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5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs ➡️
Feel like we had this thread 5 years ago...
Five years ago? I remember this thread from 1993 when people were first buying CD recorders. Everyone was asking "what will you do now?"

Quote:
Last year was busier than the year before.
Same.
Old 23rd February 2021
  #13
Tokyo Dawn Labs
 
FabienTDR's Avatar
 
Verified Member
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prototech ➡️
Hello

What do you think is future of online mastering, especially now after Covid when music scene / live acts died?


will be replaced by AI, plug-ins, homemade lowcost guys?


- I see many of you are saying business is going down every year, less work.

- More and more people are doing mastering DIY at home with computers plugins they think it sounds as good as hardware

- More kids offering homemade mastering for few bucks with plug-ins

- AI mastering services doing it cheap but not so good.

- Kids are using mobilephones to listen to music doesnt care about sound quality

So will there be renaissance and people will prefer quality analog professional mastering or this industry will be dying (and only top places will remain mastering best seling artist with huge bufgets in most expensive cities of the world) ??


If you see it dark, what are your future plans? do you plan to go to other audio sub industry or quit music business at all?
Today, more people make more music than ever before. The market shifted from B2B (think "industry") to B2C (think videogames, apps, hobby and fun). The audience multiplied 100 fold if not more. Seems like everybody from junior to grandpa is now making and at some point releasing music. I'd guess this easily compensates your points.
Old 23rd February 2021
  #14
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
It's all about quality control in the end. AI services don't listen your music first and foremost, their pre-trained big data algo can technically analyse FFT curve and apply one of the pre-scripted settings that's it. Kids in their bedrooms can't even hear properly (bad room, cheap speakers & DAC) and lack of long term experience.
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #15
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson ➡️
Five years ago? I remember this thread from 1993 when people were first buying CD recorders. Everyone was asking "what will you do now?".
LoL!

Oh how I remember those days!

4,000 for my first CD burner

1,000 for the driver software

35 per blank disc

100 for a CD Master

lots of headaches too.

JT
Old 23rd February 2021
  #16
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
My clients are mostly veteran producers & engineers

that wouldn’t dare send their Mixes to an “AI” robot or Cheapo newbie.

You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

just sayin’...

JT
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Head
 
Verified Member
and what if they go out of business / be retired dont you affraid that new generation doesnt fck about sound quality just put plugins, preset on master and make it loud for social networks/streaming? :-D where quality will be low of course because of data compression
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #18
Tokyo Dawn Labs
 
FabienTDR's Avatar
 
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by artech909 ➡️
It's all about quality control in the end. AI services don't listen your music first and foremost, their pre-trained big data algo can technically analyse FFT curve and apply one of the pre-scripted settings that's it.
I think you are underestimating what software can do today.

Allow me to take you on a short excursion.

We worked on a third party project over the last 2 years, at some point the contractor required a reliable genre detection (i.e. is it country, techno or drum'n bass? Or more like dubstep?). We tried several approaches, and ended up training a neural network, with stunning success. This thing looks at your files, and within shortest time, returns and estimate so good even average humans would struggle to keep up with, especially when it comes to niche genres. Truly impressive.

The FFT curve is just one tool of many. Audio software devs are used to read scientific papers and translate them into real products, they typically follow the latest developments far deeper than most traditional audio engineers would do.


I'm not trying to scare anybody, but it's not that difficult to get a computer to think like an organism does: One simply uses the same structures (genetic algorithms, Bayesian probability, neural nets are all really well established, and capable). Probing for "good sound", "translation across systems", or just "artistic adequacy" is not that distant.

With such tool, I wouldn't be surprised to see well organized ME's delivering hundreds of masters per day and excellent quality, at far lower costs.

They key point is to start learning to use these tool, to your own benefit. This is not a John Connor event, it's just tools evolving. Mastering will change, as it constantly did (live broadcast then tape then CD then mp3 then streaming). Nobody is questioning a compressor or limiter today, despite both being somewhat dumb robots. No competitive professional can spare or question these today. I think this is a similar situation.

Last edited by FabienTDR; 23rd February 2021 at 06:44 PM..
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #19
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Trakworx's Avatar
 
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prototech ➡️
and what if they go out of business / be retired dont you affraid that new generation doesnt fck about sound quality just put plugins, preset on master and make it loud for social networks/streaming? :-D where quality will be low of course because of data compression
All the young engineers that I know are the opposite of that. They are enthusiastic about sound quality and eager to learn how to get the best results. Why else would anyone even want to be an audio engineer?

And the long term trend is away from lossy data compression. Gradually, more and more high def streaming is emerging, and less low def.
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
I know what you talking about very well and "FFT curve" answer was very simplified version of your answer. I have deep discussions as audio engineer with my friends (programmers & AI designers) about audio related stuff. In the end we all came to the conclusion this is all about human feelings (you can't describe it in logical machine code) something very random and illogical (hard to predict stuff which you can't translate into code which create predictable beautiful audio results in every situation). Interaction with another human is another important part of this puzzle. An so on.
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #21
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 
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5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prototech ➡️
and what if they go out of business / be retired dont you affraid that new generation doesnt fck about sound quality just put plugins, preset on master and make it loud for social networks/streaming? :-D where quality will be low of course because of data compression
Friend, we've been there for the past 20 years.
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Head
 
Verified Member
yes sure, but did you talked with new artistst 18-24 years old ?

Here in europe they dont care about anything just to have fame, instagram followers and lambos in videos

they dont care about sound and young listeeners (their fans) too, they want to pay for beat producer 30 eur for song and have lambo in music video rapping/singing about money (simply want to save every penny and use it for narcistic needs only and self presentation)

especially in rap/trap/pop scene which is top mainstream these days
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #23
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
I work with top rap & pop artists in my country (Russia) and they are different. Yes, some of them don't care BUT most of them actually care, especially when they drop some big hit record and have their first big money. This big hit maybe was done by cheap beatmaker BUT for the new hit they want to try some famous beatmakers in big budget studios with top mixing & mastering service. This is reality man. Cheers

Last edited by artech909; 24th February 2021 at 01:03 AM..
Old 23rd February 2021
  #24
Gear Nut
 
AudiotalesDesign's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prototech ➡️

[B]What do you think is future of online mastering, especially now after Covid when music scene / live acts died?
Antoine Lavoisier said : « Rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée, tout se transforme. » (Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed)

Nothing "died". Everything is "on hold", and will eventually evolve after this pandemic.

And that will be the case for audio Mastering aswell, as it always did.

Electric guitar never killed acoustic guitar. Music software with instruments emulations never killed live bands. Paintbrush never killed the Painters.

And I could go on like this with pretty much everything that has been invented by mankind over the years. You need to have faith in evolution and technology, not fear them

My 2 cents...
Old 23rd February 2021
  #25
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scraggs's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prototech
yes sure, but did you talked with new artistst 18-24 years old ?

Here in europe they dont care about anything just to have fame, instagram followers and lambos in videos

they dont care about sound and young listeeners (their fans) too, they want to pay for beat producer 30 eur for song and have lambo in music video rapping/singing about money (simply want to save every penny and use it for narcistic needs only and self presentation)

especially in rap/trap/pop scene which is top mainstream these days

And 20 years ago there were plenty of people (young or old) who only cared about that same dumb stuff.

There were lots of other people who cared about making good records.

The same is true now. Fear not.

Anyway I was just looking at lambos the other day as a matter of fact. When I have a spare half mil I'm gonna get me a nice Countach. I know red is the classic but I kinda like the white.
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR ➡️
I'm not trying to scare anybody, but it's not that difficult to get a computer to think like an organism does
Can you get it to feel like a human does? I think that's where the important differences are.

Last edited by SmoothTone; 23rd February 2021 at 08:08 PM.. Reason: Qualification
Old 23rd February 2021
  #27
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
@ artech909 your country's scene is Westernized due to the influence of the bastardization of US rap music/culture
@ AudiotalesDesign I love the quote as it applies to today
@ scraggs I always felt the more things change things stay the same
Old 23rd February 2021
  #28
Gear Head
 
I for one welcome our robot overlords. Joking aside so far as I can see mastering is in a healthier state than ever and so long as music is still made and listened to by human ears it will always benefit from the human touch in mastering. I think we're safe for a bit yet comrades. 20 years time who knows though....
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #29
Tokyo Dawn Labs
 
FabienTDR's Avatar
 
Verified Member
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone ➡️
Can you get it to feel like a human does? I think that's where the important differences are.
It's certainly not there yet, but there aren't too many reasons why it shouldn't work out for certain niches. This for example feel somewhat human and shroomy to me: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeepDream

Genre detection by itself is also quite impressive, especially when compared to simple statistical methods.

This sector is evolving, new tools will probably turn out to be a great support for ME's. Better de-essers, better compressors and limiters, faster quality control, faster handling of low hanging tasks. It's just beginning.

In particular, a "translation evaluator" (i.e. how well the material will work on diverse systems and environments) would be of enormous help. Automated quality control, or automatic "track vs album consistency" helpers (often a challenging task with compilations, smart tools could prepare the operating room before the ME even drinks his first coffee ).

It looks like we'll have many little improvements along the way, not an "all or nothing" shock. The practical Limitations are just too strong (all AI systems are Turing machines, they carry the same fundamental limitations such as the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halting_problem).

Last edited by FabienTDR; 23rd February 2021 at 11:54 PM..
Old 24th February 2021 | Show parent
  #30
Tokyo Dawn Labs
 
FabienTDR's Avatar
 
Verified Member
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by artech909 ➡️
Interaction with another human is another important part of this puzzle.
Indeed. To me A.I. is like a handy pocket calculator. Enter stuff and get a result. Not a replacement for responsibility (technical or artistic), or fun!

Even with our natural languages, "feeling" is hard to catch and describe. Music and poems come close, but they are really hard to decipher. Also somewhat unusable trying to learn much about the mechanics/chemistry behind our feelings. Maybe we have to first define what we really mean by feelings, before asking robots to have them.
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