How loud should a track be for Spotify? What is LUFS? Consider the requirements of sites such as Youtube, Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Beatport, Apple Music and others.
All major music streaming services have different volume standards. Many of them require loudness normalization between -13 and -16 LUFS. If your music sounds louder, then it will be reduced by the platform itself so that each individual track sounds at approximately the same volume level. The goal of mastering your songs is to achieve the best possible sound quality. The volume should be set to maximum, but with an emphasis on transparent and dynamic sound. If you want to take your track to the next level, you should try to find the right balance between loud master and dynamic master.
Our favorite LUFS targets for techno, house and hip hop are usually between -7 and -10LUFS. You can also check the short term LUFS measurement and set a target between -6 and -9LUFS. For ambient mastering, LUFS values of -10 to -14 LUFS are also acceptable as the focus is on dynamics.
Should I just stop at -14LUFS?
Most musicians who release their songs so quietly have some problems. Therefore, when you order mixing and mastering of a track in our studio, you can complete the project with additional master versions for modern venues. Yes, -14LUFS is discussed a lot and we also give a track with this value to the customer, but it is necessary to check the projects of your genre with other works, and then adjust the volume for each individual case.
Pay attention to some details when working only with -14LUFS:
- Volume normalization is not enabled for every user. For example, Spotify Web Player and Spotify apps built into third-party devices (such as speakers and TVs) do not always have volume normalization. YouTube is normalized, but “YouTube Music” is not normalized. The Apple Music web player is also not normalized. With normalization off, your -14 LUFS track will sound much quieter than most other tracks.
- Even with volume normalization turned on, many people report that their -14 LUFS masters sound quieter than other tracks in the playlists.
- Some streaming services have different volume standards and there is no guarantee that these standards will not change again. Spotify, for example, lowered its target volume by 3 dB in 2017 and switched measurement from ReplayGain to LUFS in 2021. You can also find three different volume levels in the Spotify Premium app settings: “low”, “normal”, and “high”. AES now recommends that all music streaming services switch to -16 LUFS. The optimal volume has changed quite regularly in recent years.
- Some studios offer to make several masters (exactly as the online mixing and mastering studio – AREFYEV Studio offers). So, one mastering for streaming and several others for stores. But digital aggregators like Distrokid and Tunecore usually don’t allow you to use more than one version of a song, so you’ll have to release different versions separately.
You can often read that -14LUFS should be the goal of good mastering. You should aim to sound about as loud as other popular artists, regardless of the LUFS value. This approach is currently the best until loudness normalization can be improved and fully standardized. Leave the volume normalization to the various streaming providers because the automatic normalization of your songs doesn’t ruin the sound. If your track sounds good after mastering, it will also sound good on streaming platforms.
What is LUFS?
LUFS is loudness normalization based on average loudness. Due to the loudness war, musical works became more and more compressed and therefore less dynamic. LUFS normalization or other methods are now used by many major streaming providers such as Youtube, Spotify and Apple Music. Extremely loud songs sound quieter and slightly smoother on streaming platforms. Aggressive clipping above 3dB is generally detrimental and unnecessary to the mastering process. As with vinyl mastering, there is now more emphasis on transparency and dynamics.
SPOTIFY & APPLE MUSIC & YOUTUBE
Here’s our rundown of volume units for various digital venues:
- Youtube: -13 LUFS
- Youtube Music: -14 LUFS
- Spotify: -14 LUFS
- Bandcamp: has no volume goal
- Beatport: -10 LUFS
- Apple Music / Itunes Radio: -16 LUFS
- Tidal: -14 LUFS
- Amazon Music: -14 LUFS
Free VST plugins for measuring LUFS
There are several free analyzers for measuring LUFS, RMS and True Peaks: