Mastering a song for streaming platforms | Marco Galvan | Skillshare

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Mastering a song for streaming platforms

teacher avatar Marco Galvan, Avid, Steinberg Certified Audio Engineer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Skill master 1


    • 4.

      Skill master 2


    • 5.

      Skill master 3


    • 6.

      Skill master 4


    • 7.

      Skill master 5


    • 8.

      Skill master 6


    • 9.

      Skill master 7


    • 10.

      Skill master8


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About This Class

In this class you will follow a step-by-step procedure to master a song and have it ready for online distribution: iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube, TIDAL, etc.

The mastering process for the online platforms is different than mastering for a CD. The key point is loudness normalization. This means that most popular platforms adjust the loudness of the song (or video) to match a standard. In this way, the general listening experience is more consistent, and the user doesn't need to adjust the volume constantly. 

In this class, you will learn the key points that you should take care of to prepare your finished song for global online distribution! Your song will get better clarity, punch and loudness. You will learn topics like:

  • Equalization
  • Dynamics control
  • Sonic image manipulation
  • General loudness

Meet Your Teacher

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Marco Galvan

Avid, Steinberg Certified Audio Engineer


Marco Galvan has been active in the music and audio business for more than 15 years. He holds a B.Eng with a major in Acoustics and an MBA degrees from IPN. He is a professional musician, arranger and composer with studies at Berklee College of Music and he holds Certificates in Music Theory and Keyboard Performance from the ABRSM and Trinity College London. In the audio field, he studied at Alchemea College in London and holds several certifications like: Pro Tools User, Meyer Sound System Design, Nexo and DiGiCo operator. 

Currently he teaches at Anahuac University, with more than 10 years of teaching experience. Many of his former students currently work for companies like: Sony Music Entertainment (Grammy Award winner), Televisa, TV Azteca, OCESA, Meyer So... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. WhatIs: Well, hello, guys. Let's start with what is auto mastering. So to understand, mastering, we have to understand first, Ah, how's the music production process? In this sense, we have to understand and and the music production process there are three stages. The 1st 1 is reproduction in pre production. We deal with song writing or choosing in the song we're going to produce. Then we have to arrange those songs. This is due to set the key, the temple, the instruments, etcetera. Then we have to make a mark up. This is Ah, a test is Do we can hear the mock up and so we can make decisions. This is usually don't with Mitt Instruments, for example. Then when we have are a mark up ready, we can start with the production process which actually has to do with performing. This is, ah, playing, singing wherever and recording that. Then we have the final stage was which is boast production. In this sense, we have to deal with editing first and at the editing stage. What we do is to clean up our track to select the best takes. Then we have the mixing process here, mixing engineer it starts combining the different instruments equalizing, applying effect that cetera. And once our track is properly mixed, then we can master it. And in the mastering process, we're going to deal with different goals. The 1st 1 would be to get a good track balance the tonal balance. What? What I mean with this? Well, the tunnel balance is the amount off highs, mids and lows in a crack. We use equalizer for this task. Then we have dynamics control. We use compressors and limiters. This is the control of different volumes in our tracks. We have to deal to with image control. This I'm talking about here about stereo image, how stereo or mono or track is. Then we have to decide the final volume or define a loudness off. Our practice is a very important topic, with the right mustering we we will get a good volume for our track. So it's very important, and a so we can see as mastering is the last stage in the whole process is can off quality control the stage. We have to to make sure that the track we are mastering has the minimum standards of quality to go out to be two, to take it to the stores, to take it to, ah, social network to the world. So that's importance of mastering is the last stage, and we're going to learn all of this stages one by one. 2. Files: Okay, let's start with files preparation. What kind of files can we work with? And in this sense, ah, we usually use ah stereo files for our work. This files should be ah, wave files dot wife or that a five which are the standard for UN compressed audio. We do not recommend MP three nor a c ogg any other kind of files. Those files are compressed and they're not recommended because the equality is lower and we do not recommend flak or apple lossless eater. So always the other kind off file, life or life, we suggest the files to be Ah, you have no limiting that all this is important because we need to apply limiting. Why mastering? So the mixing engineer shouldn't apply limiting or limiters on the master on the master boss, the same would would be about normalization. We do not want drugs with ah normalized. Why? Because we are going to do that kind of work. Why mastering so us Take it easy in that part, right? Another important point. Instead of being normalized, we recommend that the high speaks in our files. They should be around minus 60 b. So it you have to take care about out when you receive your your files to work. It's important to leave some room at the beginning on at the end of your file. Later, you you're going to cut dream those those parts. But that's in the end of the mastering process. And perhaps the most important part is that we need well, mixed tracks. You know, mustering is not for, um, fixing mixing problems. That's, Ah, mistake. Mustering is to improve a good mix, but we are not going to to fix errors. So it's important to keep this in mind right there is an older kind of mustering. I'm not going to use that kind of mastering for this course, which is called Mastering by Stems Water the stems. Well, they're mixing groups so some people feels comfortable working this way. For example, here we have three steps, one for music, one for background vocals on one for live vocals. And that's not bad. Ah, about in this case you would have more flexibility for adjustments, but that's more kind of remixing, you know. And so we are mustering, and most of the time we shouldn't do remixing, so I do not recommend working by stems, so see you in the next class 3. Skill master 1: Okay, Very well. So the first thing that we have to do when we are mustering Innotrac is, of course, to listen to the track. We need to try to identify problems. For example, In this case, I can see that my track has a fair amount of space before this is good. Because in this way, I can prepare on later. I'm going to cut this out right now. I don't have to do it, but now have more possibility. Toe, have some room here. So that's nice. Eso Let's hear it. Let's try to find, you know, maybe sleeps or errors or something like that. You're trying, Teoh, you know. Listen, that may extend. Try Teoh, Find it. Five. No, the groove on to understand the music, for example, this kind of I don't know what kind of smooth Move me a six gas or something. Another two that would be important in this stage. This Ah riel time analyzer. In this case, I inserted this equaliser but you can have it in many other ways and to analyze the general general cure of the sensation that you can see here You have more energy in low frequencies you have more energy and low frequencies and you have less energy. Because is that what you are looking for? Some more ken of balance shape, You know, it's like, smooth your It's normal to have less high frequency, more low frequency, and I don't find a lot off very annoying me frequency. So this means that this project waas has a nice mix, and that's the first thing that you have to look for. You want a nice mix? I want a nice violence in this case free. Sure, I have to buy a lot for this 14. And of course, you should, uh, today hold track. But in some cases you could go in other parts. For example, way can see that this mix has faith out, so fadeout shouldn't be done in the mixing stage. It's better than the fade out it's done and after mastering, I mean the master in stage. But well, in this case is the way this track Waas sent to me so well, and I have I will need to adjust this fade out after my mustering process. So the generality is to look for little leeches or maybe clicks, pops and noises and, you know, to get the Bible of the song of the overall balance, the frequency balance, different sections. I can see the dynamics. I can see that. You know, it needs compression. But, you know, I could say the makes its OK so we can start working with this file if the if this is not the case than you. You made me to remakes the song or ask for a new version of the song. You find a bath balance then you would need another makes another fire. 4. Skill master 2: Now that our files ready, we can start equalizing it. So there are a couple of things that we should do pretty much every time. The first thing is to apply a high pass filter. In this case, on activating this, we have to go around three hairs or so and I'm going to use this 24 to be spur Octave. This going to remove this extra low frequency content, which actually is not pray musical. It's more a kind of precaution. So now that I have that one, it's ah, it's time to try to, you know, give us shape to my cure. For example, in this case, I I could start with a single filter and then try to look for some elements that I found but noisy or that my track needs. So you need to raise the volume here, for example, this area around one. And to cure hearts there. It's important for vocals on definition of melody. So many would do a little bit there, but not not sure. Another point that I have to be careful of is this area between 304 100. Sometimes it may sound a little on you know resident there. Let's right. So this area, uh, has a lot of energy. If you see the graph, you can see we kept energy here and in this area we have a lot. So it's common and mastering. You may want to reviews this this area. Of course you have to find tune by ear about. For example, In this case, I'm reducing Wandy be way have to go for this kind of very sudden reduction you don't want This thing is way too aggressive, so it's better to do it, Maybe 11 have to be. And maybe for Temple and for this song, I don't think we need a lot of low end. This is why you need a great monitoring system for proper mastering. I know that Maybe you don't have that right now. It's okay, and because we are learning. But the point is that if you have the possibility to get better monitoring system that will improve, you're mastering because you will be able to hear those frequencies in this area. So while in this case anyway, the analyzer helps me to see that I have a fair amount of energy here. So maybe I don't hear a lot of love and but I know it's there, So I'm not touching that. On the other hand, I think I'm going to add a little bit off. Sparkle sparkle you can I use maybe a shelling equalizer. You know this shelling equalizer and works like this? You have the cure and then it becomes flat and other option is to use a back Sandahl can of equaliser backs and belt. You can emulate it with this kind of filter. You use a big filter and go to the extreme and then you just there they're cute and let's let's strike with did one the sparkles above 15 kilohertz. So it's going to be very subtle. That's a lot of sparkling me 12 db So way to go a little more easier here. Okay, Maybe just like that. And tried the middle needs let me by and like, I'm not sure about when you go in a different place for my piano melody. Maybe I will live it. No. So this would be an example off Aneke you cure for mastering. Of course, you need to develop your own cure of you have to practice but we could go, you know, around a 60 or 80 hertz for punch 300. We have to be careful in that area for modernise, then want to keep a heart for a definition. And then we have sparkle above 12 kilohertz, 15 kilohertz. So in this case, I'm going to live it that way. But it's up to you to start equalizing. And don't forget to use the high pass filter. 5. Skill master 3: Okay, Great guys. Now that we equalize. Ah, the next part of mastering process is to work with dynamics. So we want to control this Oleson spikes in the way form. That's why I'm adding a compressor. Remember, In this case, I'm using Onley native floggings from logic Pro. But of course you can just pretty much any kind of plugging available to you. So in this case, this compressor and logic has different I kind of circuits up here. The point here is to try to use the lowest. Yeah, in this case, it would be it could be a tooth compressor or us. I see here, this upto the upto compressors are slow, actually are is lower than any order here. So this is a good option. Let's adjust the settings. I saw the first place. I want a very moderate ratio in this case. My ratios to tow one, and that's bring ice actually around. That would be good for most mastering applications. Then we have to set as low attack. In this case, I'm going to go maybe around 8100 milliseconds. If your compressor doesn't have this and this settings with milliseconds, then you go for a slow setting, and I'm not going to use the old or release. I'm going to use a slow release as well. And then I don't want odor game and my threshold. Well, I'm going to you set my threshold to the top. So in this case, my grab is showing the gain reduction. I have no game reduction, so my compressor is not doing anything, so I'm moving my trifle down. Okay, Very this. Now my compressor is work and this needle showing me that peaks are being compressed, being reduced. I have this order graph, and I can see that my compressor reducing the level of weeks. It's very graphical, of course, and you can see the gain reduction here, but well, you compressor is like this normal. It would be OK. Now, this is, uh, g B scale on a previous scale. So just your special and go for around three to be off. Uh, big reduction year gain reduction. Of course, you have to check the loudest parts. So let me change me here. No. 23 b. It's not that aggressive. Okay, remember, we're using Furley. It's low compressor. That's why I used vintage, but let's try again. And well, in this case, you need to find you in the attack and release. If you I said a very fast attack is going to sound squashed. Okay, You don't want that. So be careful. Lower attack. It's you. More punch and their release faster release will give you more punch, but your levels are not that control. You can see I don't have the same control. So if I use as lower release, then my levels are more even. Okay, so that's pretty much it yet, But you have to do this using your year. So in this case, and you for something like that on finally, you need to make up some makeup here because loudness is, uh, trucks louder without any compressor. So you need to compensate for that and play a little bit off reduction. You can't compare a b, you see, or I mean, you hear that. So that would be the basic cereal compression. Because this is in serious with channel on the compressor, generally Q and A compressor. But that would be the basic settings. So now it's up to use your turn, try to change a little beat the settings mainly about attack and release 6. Skill master 4: Okay, Great. Another tool for controlling the dynamics would be the multi band compressor, which is available in some D A W's. In this case, this is the one from Logic Pro, and you know this pretty much is the idea. You have four compressors for different bands, so you can apply a different compressor for different frequencies. So it's pretty much like having four of this, you know, instead of using one general compressor, then you can use four of them with different settings for different frequencies, because frequencies behave differently as they, for example, the low frequencies are is lower down high frequency. So that's pretty much Nadiya here when to use that. Well, maybe you don't have the best resold with, uh, uh, one band compressor. Maybe it's not that punchy. Or, I don't know. Maybe you could try with the multi bond if you have the option, so that's pretty much the idea I'm going to try. And so the first thing that you have to do is to adjust your cross over points. So let's give it a shot. Use this solo, but, for example, disband is only for low. And so let me change in here. You want a punch here? No, I love. And you will find that around 90 or 100 B. This is our frequencies that are reproduced by subwoofers most of the time. So Okay, now I'm going to adjust my high frequency crossover. This band you want the high, you know, diesel? Hi hats. You know that Maybe 8/9 uh, kilohertz. So that's pretty much idea. Then you have the high needs, which should sound very much like radio this can off last laptop speakers or small speakers . This is very important because actually is the most important band of full high frequency because you can hear to this frequencies pretty much with any kind off audio system. So that's why it's very important to a justice. You have to use your year. This is just a general reference. And, of course, and you have the rest low, low meats. So now that you have, uh, your cuts your different cut frequencies, then you need to adjust the compressor settings. Now, in this case, as you can see, you have different ratios for the four compressors, and so you cannot just different races. According do the dynamics off each off each song or each section. For example, if your kid draw more basis to do dynamic, it has a lot of bounces. Then you can use ah, higher Rachel here, but not that high for for mid frequencies, for example. So in this case, of course, I'm going to leave the low frequencies with a 2.5 ratio on the rest weed, too. Ah, 2 to 1 ratio. So the attack and release is going to change to this case. I think it's a little fast, so I want a slower response because I don't want to destroyed my my transients. But it's up to you, and the release has to be a little bit is lower in most cases, but we will need to experiment. But, uh, one band at a time. As you can see, the general rule here is that lower no frequencies are is lower. You no longer times and high frequency used shorter times. That's pretty much the general idea. And so let's try it. And let's compress one band at a time at me. Rewind us. Okay, so this is my compressor threshold. And as you see, if I lower the threshold. I can't start getting gain reduction, so this is pretty much the needle. It's pretty much like the needle from the from from my regular compressor, you know, needles not moving. Then you are not compressing anything. So that's the idea here, and you can see here the input, which has more dynamics, more movement than the output output is more controlled. It's not that balance, you know. So you are compressing the low frequencies it's try needs. Maybe you want more squashed meets. I don't know. It's up to you. This is where you will need to start trying different settings, for example, and tried this part. But we do piano Mellie streams that six because I want my people to be more careful. You see the piano notes, activate the compressor more and other things. So that's that's an advantage multi bank compressor that I can't adjust each part in a separate way. Finally, my height frequencies, which actually don't think they need too much compression. Maybe yesterday speaks very life. I'm going to use. Maybe something like that is too much. It's way too much. So you know, it's just bigs. And so there you have it now. One important part of the multiplying compressor is that you have makeup game for each band . So you have to be careful here because you can re balance the whole file. Okay, So if I want, for example, in Detroit, I could race it meets, which is too much for this case. So you have to be careful. It's, like kind of equalizer. This if I'm not careful enough like to change the mix and you are mustering the song. You don't want to remakes the son. You want to improve the overall sound. So, for example, and adding a little more spark here. And maybe I want to be here maybe a little bit here. I don't That's up to you. You need to start trying different settings with makeup game. Just at least be careful with the low. And remember most cities or professional mustard songs don't have a lot of energy here. I mean, it's fair enough energy, but, you know, avoid excess off low, and that's a pretty common mistake for home studios or I'm a terror productions. They used way too much low, and so be careful here and well, it's time to you to try compressor. It's possible to use boat of them and so trite. Try them, then both tried What sounds best to you. I think this sounds best for me. I will need to check it with more detail. 7. Skill master 5: Okay, Great. Now it's a good time to a start using a meter. In this case, I'm going to use this multi meter. I can't see here. You know, the analyzer is contents. Pretty much same information that you can find. Que This case, this meter is inserted in my master monster truck or mustard failure wherever. So this is a general overview off my whole track, that s we can see here has kind of balance distribution, but in this case, we cupholder meters that we go over there later. But in this case, I want you to focus on this one's called Correlation Meter. Which insured explains, um, you know how good your mixes for Mona compatibility? I mean, when played back on one assistance. So for this, you can see that the song goes for much of the right positive. One would be negative. So that means my song with Blake bring nice on mon assistance, But let's try to change that. You know, we can manipulate the image off your mix, and so I'm going to use this blogging, which is called Direction Mixer. And it's quite interesting. Let's see. I can't change here. The spread off my makes so I can make my mix more stereo or more mono. So in this case, one is the normal position. So if you hear, it sounds normal. But I can make this truck completely Morning. Let's hear it. There you go. Did you listen carefully? You will see no panning that whole Everything is pan in the center is there, you know one. You can see that revelation meter. It goes completely to the right so way can try to help us it now. I mean, you spread this more watch relation meter using Now look what's happening here. It's jumping to the negative part, which is not good, because this means that there may be cancellations when using a mono system. Okay, so this is something that you don't want. In the case of this makes it's it seems that the original weeks and stay repenting it's OK . You know, it's no to white. It's not too to center, so that's pretty much good. Ah, indication. But if you need to make adjustments, you can do it now. This has also a split point. A crossover point around 200 Hertz. Maybe that's nice. Maybe around 201 150 you can change that for high, some for lows. So this is very cool, because most of the time you want your low frequencies to be more Monta and you hiree frequencies more stereo, and so you can make fine a dozen of the year. For example, if you're low, frequencies are more monem, and they will some more punchy, so you can play around with your also. You can change that. You can see here change the direction kind of pani. You don't want to do these wild last most of the time. But let's say maybe you're Meeks has problems with direction, so you have to correct them. And that's why you have this tools here. Okay, so I'm bypassing the effect, trying to find more often sound, but only for high frequency sent more closed sound for no free. So this weighs how you can manipulate the image of your track and make it sound better for mono reproduction. 8. Skill master 6: Okay, This next process would be optional, but it is quite useful. Most times it is the exciter. So we are going to have extra harmonics here. And so for mustering. We have to be very careful here also because we need to add just a little bit off sparkle here. And this is equivalent to use maybe a to compress or tube exciter or to use a tape machine . You know, professional mastering studios used that. So in this case, I'm going to use this blogging. So the key is to adjust the frequency really high. And I think you just it Let's try around, uh, 15 kill hearts and now you will add some harmless to make this process easier for you. You can try using on Lee the wet signal you can't hear. Those are the harmonics that you are going to ask to your signal. You could change caller to see which one works best. I think that for me, color one is better. So now I'm going to add the dry signal, start adding harmonics Now you have to be very careful here, just at very subtle a month and living there, you know, you don't want this to be very noticeable. It has to be very subtle. So let's try it. I'm going to buy positive. There you go. I want something like that, You know, very, very little. Give your track more clarity, that's all. That's the famous spark. So that's it. In this case, I don't have a lot of options for my exciter, so I'm so how limited. But anyway, this one works pretty nice and helps to raise the whole song. So now I'm going to be using here my street processors. I have an equalizer compressor exciter. The direction mixer is one introducing it Right now. I think it's not necessary for this truck, but let's try them all on the fight. By bustle of them, you start listening to changes into something that's appointing, mastering. Get here several differences. So you are not changing the makes. You are just improving the mix. That's a point. So give it a try 9. Skill master 7: Okay, now, the last part, the mastering process will be the limiter. In this case, logic has this adoptive limiter, which is pretty nice for my serene, uh and I'm going to use my meter again. So what I'm going to do here? Well, this is the final stage. The limiter must be the last one in your chain for ends we can see here. I used equalizer compressor exciter the direction mixer that it's not, uh on. And finally the limiter. That's that's the most Because no other process should be added after the limiter. So if you want to use to compressors to equalizers, I don't know, order things they all should be before the final limiter. So this case, this is going to be my last processor, which is also very important because it is one that gives me the loudness, the volume. So in this case, I'm going to activate this the sea remove, which is good to improve the generally equality on going to turn this true peak detection on. So my limited works for riel peaks in my audio signal on the look a have function which is optimal function off 20 milliseconds and going to applied up, and then my output ceiling should be around minus one. In this case, it depends if you are mastering for streaming platforms, which is pretty much the idea here. You need to go for a minus one db for true peak. If you are mustering for a city for a city, then you could go for a minus 0.3. But well, in this case, as this is for streaming platforms, it would be at minus one db that output ceiling. So let's start or song, and we are going to a start adding game. So as you can see, I'm having my track louder and love. And now the beaks off my truck activated reduction in my limiter. It's similar to the compressor. So, for example, this is my limiter going working there. You can see that now My out This louder. So here the question is, how loud is enough on for that? I have this lots meter, which is loudness units. So I have to use this in different settings. This changes with your streaming platform. So for its simple in, I'm going to do this for the case off YouTube. YouTube is normalized around minus 13 loves. It's not, ah, precise standard, but it's pretty much that general idea. So, yeah, I'm going to leave this minus 13. And so I'm going to have to adjust my limiter so that my over a loudness heats around that area. So let's right. As you can see here, try holds little loathe target. So this means that used more game. If you see that your tribe changes a lot and you don't like that, maybe you need more compression. Or maybe you need more compressors, another state for or maybe just Marlena. No, it's mother off changing. And so this kind of setting would be very much enough because it keeps, you know, working around minus 13 minus 14. Depends on what section off my son I am working up. So let's try, for example, this final part. Okay, so this means that this gloveman would reproduce very nice and my track not that's washed, but it's loud. It's Bonci, and now you can see the difference weighed out. Any mustering with my mustering processors 10. Skill master8: Okay, great. Well, now, the very last part of this class would be to export or bounce our file. But before doing so, we need to adjust this parts in the beginning because, of course, there's a lot of space here. So general rule is to try to leave, you know around and have a second, maybe less something like that. It's not completely Treem, but you have to be very short and also the older part of the file. We have to go to the end off the file, and we have to make sure to adjust our fade out in this case this soon as they fade out. But even in other cases, we have to make sure that or fade out Sounds nice, because now we have applied a compression and limiting, and that can affect my fate out. So it's the best ideas to to listen to this park. Okay, well, I think it's sounds OK, so I'm ready to export before exporting. I have Teoh disabled. My master fader at blogging is because I don't want any extra process. You may say, Well, this is just a meter. It doesn't process anything, but it's a process in the end, so it's better to bypass it, and I am going to bounce this now for the final bounds. I'm going to export a PCM filed Wave file 16 Beach 44 k for 4.1 kilo hearts. And it's important to use the three. For example, Logic CASS that foreign options. I'm going to use this apogee u V 22 but you could use any order. It's a matter off of trial and error or taste. You can try different different options. In this case, I would, uh, export. It is important. Do not normalize your file. It's not necessary. That's why you used a limiter. You don't need to normalize any order process. The only thing extra in this case would be the that the third. But now we're ready to export our file, and the resulting weight file could be a Blau did to the streaming platforms