Recording - April 2016 - 42

We first chatted with Maor Appelbaum in November 2014. This prolific mastering engineer works with clients around the world from his studio, Maor
Appelbaum Mastering, in Los Angeles. For our Songwriter's issue, Maor returns
to our pages to explain his views on why mastering is important to every recording songwriter... even the ones who think they're "just making demos."-MM

Is it because of your ideas? Let's say
there are a few songs with roughly the
same musical inspiration, but one of
them has had more care invested in it. If
it sounds much more professional, that
will usually spark more interest-
because it shows you invested in the
experience, and so the listener's experience is much more engaging.
Do you get a lot of business right now
in your mastering studio, from songwriters who are interested in presenting the
best foot forward in their downloads?
Yes, yes! Some of these demos sound
so good later on, they even get placements. These so-called demos end up
going into libraries or being used in TV
shows or whatever, or even sold to
someone else who later on will do a bigger production out of that song... he got
connected to it, he got excited, because
the vibe of it is much more welcoming.
Yeah, I do get a lot of singer/songwriter people coming in. They do the
best they can with their recordings; either
they go to a guy who's mixing or they
are mixing it by themselves. We've done
demos, we've done releases-one might

Interview by Mike Metlay

Why Do Songwriters

Maor, it's wonderful to have you back in our pages. Can you tell us a little bit
about some stuff you've done recently?
Maor Appelbaum: I recently did the Faith No More album Sol Invictus, the band's
comeback album after 18 years. I've also done two singles that appear on the
album as well, but they were on different mixes before-one is "Superhero" and the
other one is "Motherf**ker".
I did two double-live CDs and DVDs by Yes-Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol
Hippodrome and Like It Is: Yes at the Mesa Arts Center. I've also done an album by
Ill NiƱo, a few albums for Billy Sherwood, an EP by Hank Sherman and Michael
Danner from Mercyful Fate, Eric Gale's new album Good for Sumthin'...

call it a demo, another might call it a
release online, or just something to showcase their work. Today's demos are really showcasing way more than before. So
it's better if it's presented well.
There's a limit to what you can do in
your environment, and sometimes mastering is simply small tweaks that just clean
up the song, making your vocal come out
better or your instruments sound clearer.

We'd like to talk about the role of the mastering engineer and the mastering
process in the creation of songwriter demos. So I guess the first question is:
What would you say to the songwriter who says, "Well, I'm just messing around
with ideas right now... I'm just putting together a little bit of a mix to hand
around to people. Why would I want to have that mastered?"
We're in an age today where everything can travel fast. You're playing a demo to
somebody or sending them an MP3 to listen to; that can go way beyond that person.
Back in the day when it was physical cassettes, the question was how many cassettes you
or someone else could copy. There was a limit to how far it could go in a certain time.
Now, with people getting used to the idea of sharing files and sending songs all
over the place, your demo can go to the right and wrong places at the same time. It
might end up with somebody who is interested in working with your music, but perhaps it doesn't sound as good as the competitors that are doing so. He or she might
feel that it's not at its full potential, even as a demo. It was almost able to compete
with some other recorded piece, but that other piece had a better sound that was
more engaging to the person calling the shots.
In the past, there was a lot of money to put into production. A demo could simply
be, "Let me just hear the potential." Labels could say, "Well, it's a good song. We'll
strengthen it with a good production in a good studio, good mixing and mastering,
and it will be a hit." Nowadays, people are looking for near-finished product; there
are 20,000 other people making demos and most of them sound fine... what will
make you stand out as a better prospect?

I'm imagining that every single project
you get is different, but are there particular problems that you run into a lot
when you do mastering work on demos?
I try to maintain communication with the
client-in this case, the singer/songwriter-on a very personal level. I will give
them advice when I hear a problem that I
assume they can fix; if they tell me, "Yes,
we can fix it," they'll send me a revised
mix. If they can't, we discuss our options.
Some of them are less knowledgeable
in the recording process; they may not
track as well as they could, or their editing might have issues, or the mix could
be too bright on vocals or instruments
and sound harsh. I can fix some of that,
but in most cases I prefer letting them fix
it so I can enhance it.
The most common mistakes are levels
that are too hot in the mix, or certain
instruments that are popping too much

42

RECORDING April 2016



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - April 2016

Contents
Recording - April 2016 - Intro
Recording - April 2016 - Cover1
Recording - April 2016 - Cover2
Recording - April 2016 - 1
Recording - April 2016 - 2
Recording - April 2016 - 3
Recording - April 2016 - 4
Recording - April 2016 - 5
Recording - April 2016 - Contents
Recording - April 2016 - 7
Recording - April 2016 - 8
Recording - April 2016 - 9
Recording - April 2016 - 10
Recording - April 2016 - 11
Recording - April 2016 - 12
Recording - April 2016 - 13
Recording - April 2016 - 14
Recording - April 2016 - 15
Recording - April 2016 - 16
Recording - April 2016 - 17
Recording - April 2016 - 18
Recording - April 2016 - 19
Recording - April 2016 - 20
Recording - April 2016 - 21
Recording - April 2016 - 22
Recording - April 2016 - 23
Recording - April 2016 - 24
Recording - April 2016 - 25
Recording - April 2016 - 26
Recording - April 2016 - 27
Recording - April 2016 - 28
Recording - April 2016 - 29
Recording - April 2016 - 30
Recording - April 2016 - 31
Recording - April 2016 - 32
Recording - April 2016 - 33
Recording - April 2016 - 34
Recording - April 2016 - 35
Recording - April 2016 - 36
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Recording - April 2016 - Cover3
Recording - April 2016 - Cover4
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