Many recordings are released these days in several formats – CD, downloads in multiple resolutions and file formats, LP’s, and streaming. While the CD master at 16-bit/44.1 kHz resolution remains the most useful master format, one master does not fit all! With the growth of DIY digital sales platforms and Apple’s Mastered for iTunes (MFiT) initiative–which calls for 24-bit master files–our clients are once again asking which master parts they need. We’ve covered MFiT before; you can read up on its technical and marketing elements here in our “Airshow Masters for iTunes” post.
At Airshow, your project will be mastered in 24-bit resolution. Your Airshow mastering engineer will archive the session at the same resolution at which it was processed, so your project has been future-proofed. From the session archive, or contemporaneous with your mastering session, we can create any number of masters at various resolutions or formats to suit your release plans.
- Physical release
- For CD release your master will be a PMCD – a physical CD – or a DDP file set for upload to the manufacturer, at 16-bit/44.1 kHz resolution.
- For vinyl release, we’ll create 24-bit .wav masters (one per LP side) at the highest available sample rate for delivery to the lacquer master cutter. The LP song sequence may differ from the CD, and the LP master files might have less peak limiting than the CD version. Read up on vinyl here.
- Digital download sales
Artists and labels take a number of routes to digital download sale, and use multiple outlets. The ability to sell high resolution downloads or MFiT downloads is determined by the constraints of the intermediary(ies) used. These are common types of intermediaries to digital download sales:
- Digital supply chain service: If you have a direct relationship with retailers like iTunes or Amazon, you can use a supply chain service that stores and delivers your content under your direct agreements.
- Digital distributor or aggregator: These parties have their own direct relationships with the retailer; your financial settlement is with the distributor or aggregator.
- Download sales via a DIY platform: You or your team uploads files to a DIY platform operator for sale via your own branded storefront on your website, via widgets, or accessed via your social pages.
- Download sales via specialty retail: Beyond iTunes and Amazon MP3, niche purveyors have varied capabilities for hosting and selling files. Some cannot be accessed via a supply chain service or by aggregators.
This table shows some of the intermediaries used by Airshow clients. It indicates which type of service they operate, and the highest resolution master file they can receive (or sell, in the case of digital retailers). A 16-bit .wav or .aiff file ripped from your CD master remains the primary digital master part, but other digital retail opportunities call for other files. We can help you navigate this digital maze.
Did we neglect to include your retailer, platform or distributor? Please let us know and we’ll research and keep expanding this list!
What masters do you need?
- The digital master we upload to your CD manufacturer or a master CD we ship to your manufacturer.
- A physical CD master part for your professional archive, for CD reorders, and for delivery to your digital intermediaries.
- An HD master as files on disc for your own future-proofed archive, for licensing and HD sales opportunities, and as your Mastered for iTunes submission.
When working with your Airshow studio manager or your Airshow mastering engineer, please take the time to discuss your digital or licensing strategy so we can cost-effectively deliver the master parts you need when you need them.