Global Rockstar and MASTERLIZER just started a two year partnership that provides Global Rockstar artists with a new, innovative tool: The MASTERLIZER. We met Maximilian Kamenar, Co-founder of MASTERLIZER, at the Global Rockstar office and asked him how MASTERLIZER is changing the way we make music in the digital era.
(In the picture: left Max Kamenar, right Ronny Steibl, Co-founder of Global Rockstar).
Good morning Maximilian, how did the idea of MASTERLIZER come to you?
Maximilian Kamenar: Good morning! I started making music as a kid, first piano then guitar, so music has always been a part of my life. About three years ago I was in Africa, in Mozambique, for a remix contest involving artists from all around the world and we wanted to release an album from it. We had a lot of recordings from many different countries and I was confronted with the huge task of making them sound consistent and somehow good.
A friend, a sound engineer, wanted to help but we soon realized it would take too long to bring all these tracks to a good sound level ourselves, and it would be too expensive to pay a sound studio. The project was a non-profit so we didn’t have that kind of budget at our disposal. We decided to build a tool to help us with the task. That’s how the MASTERLIZER was born.
Did you immediately realize it could be useful to others?
MK: As a musician I always hated mastering, too technical, too expensive, too time consuming. So yes, I immediately realized the MASTERLIZER could be the solution that enables other musicians to automate this process and make mastering easy, fun and quick.
How did MASTERLIZER and Global Rockstar team up?
MK: About 1.5 years ago my brother, a radio DJ, met Christof (Straub, co-founder of Global Rockstar) and immediately called me: “Max come over! I met this interesting guy, they’re doing some online music-thing and you should talk to him!” I jumped on my scooter and rushed to the venue. We had a glass of wine, talked into the early hours and realized that Global Rockstar and MASTERLIZER share the same spirit.
In what sense?
MK: We both agree that the music industry has changed and we both want to build solutions for artists to cope in the digital world. Global Rockstar wants to give each musician a stage, an opportunity to earn money with their music. MASTERLIZER goes in the same direction, supplying a tool that helps the artist with his or her path.
Making music requires many steps: composing, arranging, rehearsal and recording. Mastering is the final stage in the process and for some people it’s almost mysterious. It’s very technical, while making music is usually about fun and passion. If we can spare the artist this hassle he or she can concentrate on making music!
How does the MASTERLIZER work?
MK: Behind the MASTERLIZER we have automatic algorithms that analyze and process the music to make it sound better, like a sound engineer would do. On the other hand MASTERLIZER relies on human judgment and decisions. We have a studio partner, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. He is involved in an ongoing optimization process and listens to music processed with MASTERLIZER on a daily basis. This studio engineer is responsible for the sound of MASTERLIZER. He shapes how it sounds to improve it constantly and then my co-founder Martin translates this into code. What you hear today is not the sound of MASTERLIZER tomorrow.
I’m an artist, how can I use MASTERLIZER?
MK: MASTERLIZER is available on Global Rockstar in your Artist Profile and any registered artist can use it for free. We will start with selected countries but will be available worldwide soon.
It is simple and intuitive, despite the huge technology behind it. Basically you upload your mix then press the magic Masterlize button and you’re finished!
It relies on an automatic process that can be adjusted by the user. At the moment we have 4 different music genres: pop, rock, hip-hop and electronic. The artist chooses the genre of music and MASTERLIZER will optimize the mix within that style. The artist can also adjust the intensity which is a dynamic range setting for standard or softer leveling depending on the compression. There are also two completely independent engineers with their own unique sound and settings and with sound tweaks the artist will find equalizer-like functions to enhance low, high-end and stereo image.
After masterlizing your song, instead of downloading and converting it, you can instantly share it online to SoundCloud and YouTube. You can also send it by email and stay tuned for more features coming soon, like Dropbox and directly sharing to Global Rockstar!
What kind of files are best suited for MASTERLIZER?
MK: You can upload almost any file format (WAV, AIFF, MP3, AAC, M4A, FLAC up to 48kHz/32 bit) but of course we recommend WAV, because it has no compression or loss in audio quality. The general idea with MASTERLIZER is the same as in offline mastering: to obtain the best possible result by uploading the best possible mix of your song to MASTERLIZER. You can always downgrade the result to an MP3 or whatever suits your needs later.
MASTERLIZER generates mastered music in real time. Is it useful or just fancy?
MK: I remember the first prototype of MASTERLIZER that went online two and a half years ago! (laughs) It was brutal, you would upload a 30 second file and then wait for five minutes or more to hear the mastered 30 second clip.
We knew we had to make this important process more attractive to musicians and the solution is real time auditioning. The service we offer has to work with the way musicians make music now, and nobody has time to wait for a machine to process! By simply pressing a button on the MASTERLIZER the artist can listen to the whole track immediately. This means the artist can jump around the track — right into the verse or the chorus, before deciding on the final settings. Definitely useful!
What happens if I try to masterlize a file that is already mastered?
MK: Well, sorry but a mastered file is already finished, really loud and compressed. MASTERLIZER won’t make it any better!
Is MASTERLIZER as good as professional mastering by a sound engineer?
MK: There are other services out there who claim to do professional online mastering. We are more realistic. Maybe in 5-10 years the outcome will be so good that nobody will be able to distinguish it from a professional mastering engineer, but with today’s technology, the complexity of the technical detail is not there yet. It’s a challenge but we’re working on it and the service is improving every day.
At MASTERLIZER we are not competing with traditional studios, we think that the time has come to offer an alternative. It’s easy, fun to use and optimized for sharing and distributing music online. We’re giving musicians a tool that is affordable and instantly accessible to everyone.
What is the best way to use MASTERLIZER? What kind of activity do you recommend?
MK: For a lot of applications you don’t need professional mastering. This is particularly true for online platforms, where it’s a question of cost vs. benefit. You may know from the beginning that you won’t earn a lot, if anything, from online promotion activities, but you still want your music to sound its best. Why should you invest a few hundred bucks in mastering if you can instead have a very good quality song to share by masterlizing it?
You can also use MASTERLIZER for demos or for sending better quality music to your friends. Sometimes independent artist would like to release a quick and dirty record. Maybe that legendary live session you just recorded will be masterlized to ensure the best possible quality because you don’t want to hassle around with technical stuff and huge expenses.
My favorite scenario though is during the final stages of a record, when you have different mixes and you want to test how they sound before investing money and going to a professional studio for mastering… that’s the perfect use of MASTERLIZER for me.
What we do is not mastering, what we do is masterlizing, a new way for optimizing audio online and in real time.
MASTERLIZER is now available on your Global Rockstar Artist Profile for free.