Audio Mastering Tips for Streaming Platforms
Technology has revolutionized how we listen to music. As a result, audiophiles now connect to their favorite music and artist through streaming apps. This has caused a shift in the mastering world as well.
What does this mean for the artist and producer out there? For you to connect with your fans, you have to take advantage of these streaming platforms.
Think of how your tracks will perform in streaming platforms while mastering them. For instance, if your tracks don’t match up to the standards of streaming platforms, they are less likely to get played by your fans.
And streaming platforms are like search engines. If people are not searching for your music, it gets forgotten. Sometimes for good.
So, what kind of mastering suits streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, or Deezer? Let's find out.
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Audio mastering for streaming platforms
Every streaming platform sets its loudness level for songs played by listeners. In music jargon, this is known as loudness units relative to full scale or LUFS. in simple terms, we will call this audio normalization.
What audio normalization does is maintain the same loudness level for every track played on a streaming platform. Whether you move from a punchy rock song to a mellow RnB track, the volume levels remain the same throughout the playtime.
Streaming platforms do this to provide an uninterrupted listening experience for the listener. It takes away the pain of having to turn the volume up or down for some songs. Furthermore, some streaming apps allow you to take the loudness up, down, or maintain the default normalization level.
Every streaming app has its normalization level. See the comprehensive chart below;
|Streaming Platform||Normalization (LUFS)||True Peak (dBTP)|
|Spotify||-13 to -15||-1.0 to -2.0|
|YouTube||-13 to -15||-1.0|
|Soundcloud||-8 to -13||-1.0|
How does this impact mastering?
For an artist, the easiest way your fans can access your music is through the streaming platforms. Find audio mastering services that include preparing your songs for these streaming platforms.
As a mastering engineer, master your songs for the different normalization levels for streaming platforms. This gives your tracks fair competition against all other uploaded tracks.
One more thing to remember,
Every streaming platform has an algorithm that balances the perceived loudness of tracks. A song that is too loud will be compressed down to the set LUFS level. Similarly, a song that is too quiet is compressed up to meet the listening standards.
Disadvantages of streaming normalization
In most cases, normalization adjusts the loudness without affecting the dynamics of a song. Yet, songs that are too loud or too quiet beyond the set threshold risk getting distorted during compression.
Distortion or clipping is not at all pleasing. Listen to what it sounds like below.
Your angelic vocals end up sounding like a 1940s VOA radio announcement. Even worse, you lose your listeners on streaming platforms.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this with audio mastering.
Audio mastering tips for streaming platforms
Stick to the set normalization level
Master your songs as loud as possible. But make sure you do not go beyond the set loudness level of the respective streaming platform.
For instance, Pandora has a loudness level of -13.5. If your loudness goes beyond this level, say -7, it gets compressed down to -13.5. Your song will end up losing its energy and charisma.
As an audio mastering tip, ensure the loudest parts in your song are within the set normalization level. From this level, play around with the dynamics for a richer tone and colorful sound.
Always leave headroom
Ensure there is enough headroom in songs as you upload them to streaming sites. It prevents clipping or distortion of your song as it gets transcoded by the streaming platform.
Every streaming platform has its true peak level denoted by dBTP. Generally, a peak level of -1 dBTP to -2 dBTP is enough headroom for uploading to most streaming sites.
Also, save and submit your audio tracks in the file formats supported by streaming platforms. Streaming platforms like Spotify use AAC and Ogg Vorbis files.
Don’t master too low
Ensure your tracks don’t sound too quiet when uploading them to streaming sites. Luckily, some streaming platforms will increase the loudness of your tracks. On the other hand, there are streaming sites that will leave your track as is.
A track that is too low lacks the energy to compete with other professionally mastered songs in streaming platforms. That can be bad for business.
Measuring LUFS levels in your tracks
Fortunately, there are available LUFS meter plugins you can download and use for audio mastering. Like all other mastering plugins, personal preference determines the LUFS plugin you settle for.
ideally, go for LUFS plugins that give you features for measuring, correcting, or adjusting loudness level. Besides, consider LUFS audio mastering plugins that keep track of your mastering progress. The plugin will warn you if you exceed or come up short of the set LUFS level.
Versatile LUFS plugins are the best. They let you make all the changes within the app. Also, they eliminate the need for additional plugins to compensate for missing features.
A pro audio mastering engineer can correct your track loudness
The algorithms for online music streaming are constantly changing. You need a talented mastering engineer who is adept with the new trends in streaming services.
At Mr Mix and Master, we will balance your track loudness before uploading them to Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, or Tidal.
We turn your mix into a release-ready track that will compete with top hits on Spotify and Apple Music. Additionally,we have billboard #1 records that are doing well on streaming services.