With Dad doing a lot better and dropping hints that I have my own life to get back to, I’ve felt able to concentrate a lot more on finishing my started music – punctuated by a few medical appointments that I’ve provided transport for and just keeping an eye out to make sure things are as OK as possible.

A couple of days ago, I submitted my second album to the distributor after a very intense few weeks, fixing the odd issue with the mixes and mastering the tracks. The next stage of ‘inspection’ has been done by the distributor and I’m writing this whilst I proof-listen to the tracks in order to give my final permission for them to go ahead and release it EVERYWHERE – i.e. the point of no return. The official release date when it will start becoming available to the general public is this coming Friday, 18th May.

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This is the first time that I’ve released a project I mastered completely by myself. I can tell you categorically, having gone through it, that doing your first ‘official’ mastering on a 15-track album is nothing short of stupid!  I had thought I might release a self-mastered EP first, as that’s what I was learning on, but ended up concentrating on the bigger project because I thought I had, ahem, mastered it enough. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Mastering a single track is relatively simple – you don’t need to think about how the sound relates to anything else apart from reference tracks that you’re using as a guide. You just make sure it sounds as good as those, adding a bit of polish, and ensuring that it is at the right volume level.*   With every additional track in a project, however, you are adding a layer of complication, because they all need to sound right together.  That meant that I had significantly more attempts at mastering each track than I would have had if I’d been releasing 15 singles separately.  There was also an element of still being on the uphill part of the learning curve, which would have been fine if I was releasing a 4-track EP, but it made releasing an hour-long album more ‘interesting’ when working to a deadline I’d by now committed to.  Perseverance and overcoming stress is really important for releasing music!

And just to prove it, before I get all the way through proof-listening to the whole album, there is some kind of technical fault – the distributor website suddenly can’t load my audio files. Maybe they have a server down or the site is overloaded at present – tracks I already listened to won’t load either, but the internet hasn’t gone down (this time! it’s been really wonky for a couple of days).  I’ll need to come back later and have another go, by the look of things.  At least it’s fallen over on the most appropriately-named track, Ominous Hopeful!

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*OK, so it’s a bit more technical than that, but that’s the short version and it all boils down to using your ears and a few meters to get the best possible outcome.