Mike Wells, Audio Engineer and Mastering Professional of Mike Wells Marketing, will be one of the many speakers at this years’ California Music Industry Summit. He will speak exclusively about being an audio engineering professional, mixing, mastering and much more. Recently, Wells spoke in an interview with our team about his experiences in the industry, the importance of hiring an experienced audio engineer and what attendees of this years’ California Music Industry Summit can expect from his presentation.
Can you talk briefly about your company, Mike Wells Mastering?
I’ve been in business for well over a decade now. Within the last 20 years there’s been a huge boom the independent sector of music and a rather large decline in the established major label sector of the music industry. Coming back to the mid 90s there were a lot of people like myself starting mastering businesses without going through the traditional, slow and politically adverse terrain of trying to get into that industry. And as a business owner, an engineer and an artist myself, the first and foremost direction of my business has been, “If I were the client, how would my service work for me?” I’ve always had a very big focus on service, outreach and education, and I think my website and the history of my business very well reflects that.
Could you elaborate on the importance of the mastering process in creating a complete body of work for an artists’ music?
I think that question has more weight to it today than it ever has in the past because plug-ins and digital technology on a computer are better than they’ve ever been in history. That begs the question, “Why should I hire a mastering engineer?” I think the best way to answer that question is to say that the technology has gotten better, but when you’re talking about hiring someone with a certain expertise, the bow an arrow is not what matters, it’s the Indian that matters. It’s the person that ‘s making the decision that matters. They can bring to the table problem solving approaches using the equipment to reach a result that the client is looking for. That engineer will bring to the table years of experience and expertise
What influenced you to become involved in the mastering for music?
I was going to mastering sessions as a musician and a mixing engineer working on other projects, and the old, traditional world of mastering was quite a bit of a mystery to me because it was a very closed off, non-accessible part of the recording process. As a curious person my whole life, you want to be able to ask questions. I always had a lot of challenging times as a young person in mastering sessions, which is what really got me interested in mastering. Any young person that’s trying to find their way in the audio business, they struggle with finding out “how do I fit in here?” That’s a big question that a lot of people have.
Can you speak more about your contributions to different audio engineering organizations?
I’ve served on the Board of Governors for the Grammy organization and I educated the board about modern metadata technology and what it is and how to use it. I also started a seminar series called Audio Outreach that ran for three years and eventually merged it with BARMMAP (Bay Area Recording, Mixing, Mastering, And Production Group) which is still going in San Francisco today and have given many talks and seminars through those guys. I’ve spoken at AES (Audio Engineering Society) countless times and I’ve served on a couple of convention committees for making the AES show happen. I’ve written a bunch of articles for magazines whether it’s Mix Magazine or Music Connection, you name it. My goal is specifically around education and young people wanting to get into the recording business or understanding more about how it actually works rather than promote the mystery.
Will this be your first time at California Music Industry Summit?
At this conference, yes, it will be my first time.
What can CMIS attendees can expect from your presentation at this years’ conference?
We’re going to be talking about a general overview of what mastering is and how it works. So we’ll be talking about what goes into mastering, some of the common approaches and challenges that one might face, how you address those, what a professional mastering engineer can bring to your project, some modern technology like Metadata, encoding and digital distribution. We can cover a lot in the time that we’ve been allotted and I’ll definitely stick around for Q&A so we can cover a lot of ground.
What advice would you give to people that aspire to follow a similar path to yourself into the field of mastering?
Good question. I do believe in creating goals. Making a couple of 10-year goals, 5-year goals and 1-year goals, and revisit that every year of your career. It keeps you motivated and keeps you focused on where you want to go. And you’ll find that it changes over time, and that’s okay because it gives you something to steer yourself towards. Aside from goals, focus on the positive. There is a ton of wonderful people in this business. It’s easy to get jaded and upset at the bad things; focus on the good things. Keep meeting people, be nice to people, be nice to yourself and you’re going to find results.