Spotify goes LUFs

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Spotify is switching to LUFs loudness measurement for audio normalization. Let’s look into what this changes when mastering for the streaming platforms. The switch from the older ReplayGain algorithm to the more recent LUFs standard started last month. Other streaming services, like YouTube and Amazon had already been using this standard. Not only does Spotify apply the change to newly uploaded music, they are also implementing it to all existing songs in their catalog. It may take a few more weeks before it is fully activated across all versions of the app for all devices. As I am writing this, Spotify hasn’t updated their FAQ on mastering and loudness. Yet…

What does all this mean? First, the level variations that your music undergoes when streamed on Spotify will be more predictable. You will have more control over loudness differences between your songs and others. Second, provided your music is handled by a knowledgeable mastering engineer, its dynamics are less likely to get squashed. Until now, Spotify was one of the few platforms using a limiter when turning up the volume of soft songs. This automatic processing often resulted in some sound degradation.

Note that it is as relevant as ever to be sensible when using limiting and compression during mastering for streaming platforms. If you upload a very loud master that has little dynamic range, it will still be played softer than more dynamic music. If you are primarily targeting digital streaming, be sure to let your mastering engineer handle the dynamics. Trust them and resist the temptation to ask for a louder master.

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