With the emergence of paid and free AI automated mastering services, will mastering engineers become unnecessary in the music industry in the future?


The advent of AI automated mastering services is certainly bringing about a revolution in the music production process, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that mastering engineers will become completely obsolete in the music industry. There are several reasons to believe that the role of mastering engineers will continue to be significant in the future:

Sensation and Experience: While AI performs mastering based on algorithms, mastering engineers can capture the nuances of the track and the intent of the artist, delivering the appropriate direction. This human touch is currently not replicable by AI.

Flexibility: AI mastering services operate based on general settings and genres, but their capacity to customize according to specific needs and requests is limited. On the other hand, mastering engineers can meet specific demands through communication with clients.

Limitations of AI: The current AI technology has its limitations, and it may be challenging to achieve optimal mastering for all songs and situations.

Trust of Artists: Many artists and producers prefer to entrust their works to trusted professionals. They often seek not just technical skills but also depth in communication and understanding.

Combination of Technology and Art: Mastering is not just about technology; it’s also an art. Therefore, creative choices and fine-tuning are sometimes required.

Nevertheless, with the evolution of technology, there will likely be increasing scenarios where AI automated mastering services are beneficial, especially for projects with limited budgets. However, the human role in music mastering is believed to remain significant in the foreseeable future.

How about mixing engineers?

Regarding mixing engineers, there is undoubtedly an impact from the evolution of AI technology and the accompanying automation. However, it’s hard to imagine that mixing engineers will become completely obsolete in the music industry. Here are reasons why the role of mixing engineers is likely to remain important in the future:

Creative Decision Making: Mixing is not just a technical process but also involves artistic choices. Decisions such as which instruments to foreground or which effects to use are made based on the mood of the song and the intent of the artist. Such delicate decisions are challenging with the current state of AI technology alone.

Communication: Sharing the vision and emotions of a song with artists and producers and the ability to communicate to materialize it is an integral part of a mixing engineer’s role.

Characteristics of Each Song: Each song is unique and requires mixing tailored to its specific traits. As AI often operates based on general rules, achieving a mix optimized for a particular track is challenging.

Experience and Intuition: Mixing engineers with years of experience can utilize their knowledge and intuition to produce the optimal mix in many situations.

Advanced Adjustments: Mixing includes tasks requiring advanced skills, such as precise EQ adjustments, control of dynamics, and creation of a sense of space. Such fine-tunings might not be perfectly achievable with AI alone.

AI mixing tools will likely be extremely useful for beginners or projects constrained by budget or time. However, considering their knowledge, experience, and artistic sense, professional mixing engineers are believed to continue playing a significant role in the music industry.

But if artists can easily mix and master their own tracks, won’t skills become democratized, reducing the demand for professionals to handle mixing and mastering?

Certainly, with the democratization of mixing and mastering tools and technology, many artists can now handle these tasks on their own. Additionally, the rise in simplified mixing and mastering tools utilizing AI and presets means high-quality sound can be more easily achieved.

Given this context, especially for indie artists and beginners, it might become common to handle mixing and mastering themselves. This trend can lower the barriers to music production, allowing more people to create and release their original music.

However, there are several reasons to believe that the role of professional mixing and mastering engineers won’t entirely disappear:

Expertise: Mixing and mastering are intricate processes, and mastering every aspect isn’t easy. Professional engineers are specialists with years of experience and knowledge.

Time and Effort: Artists juggle multiple tasks, including composition, arrangement, recording, and promotion. While they can handle mixing and mastering on their own, outsourcing to professionals can allow them to spend more time on their strengths and creative work.

Objective Opinion: It’s natural for artists to be subjective about their own work. An external professional’s perspective and technical support can often elevate a piece further.

High-quality demands: For commercial releases or major events where the highest quality is paramount, it’s fitting to hire professional engineers.

While the wave of democratization is indeed bringing changes to the music industry, it signifies the emergence of new opportunities and a shift in values, not the redundancy of professional engineers. Instead, their roles and services might diversify.

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