We live in a much different world for musicians nowadays than we once did. Nowadays artists can have their music mastered online without having to send a physical CD or record to the technician they use. Instead, with online mastering entire albums worth of tracks can be uploaded at once to the mastering technician so that the technician can create their entire CD master for them without ever having to meet the artist.
Of course there are still concerns which you should have as the artist and client before you hand over your music and record to an engineer for online mastering.
For instance, you should absolutely demand a test master before committing to them. Most any reputable mastering engineer will offer a free test master so that you can hear a sample song of yours in the hands of that engineer to get a very solid idea of what to expect from the rest of your record if you decide to move forward with them.
Even if it’s someone who was recommended to you personally by someone you trust, you should still get a test master. I don’t care if you’re dealing with the most talented and decorated engineer in the history of the music industry, your music is different from every other artist out there so you need to know how your music will sound rather than relying on the samples of hundreds of thousands of other artists that engineer has mastered.
Another important aspect to consider when interested in online mastering relates to how much does it cost? Some engineers will charge by the hour, others by the track, and others will quote you a lump sum before starting the job.
Additionally and obviously, different engineers charge different rates which can be commensurate with experience, but don’t expect just because you’ll be paying more that you’ll be getting more back.
No matter how much you are paying and even after you’ve received a test master to get a good idea of what to expect, there’s still a strong chance that you may not like what your engineer does with a particular track.
This is why it’s paramount that you know that you’ll be able to contact that engineer and receive edits and tweaks after you receive it back. All of this is another way of saying that you want to feel comfortable with the engineer whom you go with and want to feel like you have an open dialog with them and they are reachable if need be at any point in the process before, during, or after the online mastering process.