The Benefits Of Trackout Files
Every song that has been released by your favourite artist uses trackout files. They are a key piece in creating the most professional sounding song possible. Trackout files are immensely valuable but you have to make sure that they are put to good use. For some of you, using trackout files might be new and unheard of. This article will clearly explain things to you and inform you on why it’s generally better to spend a bit more money to get trackout stems instead of a .MP3 or .WAV file.
What Are Trackout Files?
Trackout files or “Stems” are commonly mentioned in a producers licensing options. They tend to come bundled in with the more expensive licenses. See my licensing options below and note the trackout files available in the Unlimited and Trackout licenses.
Notice how the trackout files come with the more expensive licenses?
In a professional recording studio, whether that’s making music for film, tv, spotify or whatever, there are two types of stems that will be used.
- Individual Stems
- Group Stems
Remember, “stems” is just another word for trackout files.
Individual stems are what we call each part of a track that, as a whole, make up a single song file. For example: kick drum, snare, guitar, vocals, backing vocals, bass guitar etc. The list goes on.
Group stems are what we call groups of sounds that have been packaged together into their own categories. For example, instead of having the individual stems for a kick drum, snare or cymbals, they are all put in their own group called “drums”. So when you play this file, instead of only hearing one part of the drum kit, like the snare drum, you’d hear the whole performance from the drum kit in a single file instead of multiple files. Grouped stems tend to be used by mastering engineers, film editors or producers in big budget productions. They will also most likely have access to the individual stems.
To give your song the best possible chance at being the best it can be, you’d want to go for a license that provides individual stems.
You will never only receive the group stems from a producer. You may receive them bundled with the individual stems however.
Typically the group stems, if needed, will be sent to a mastering engineer once the song is finished.
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What Are Trackout Files Used For?
In order to make the best song possible, it makes sense to have the most control over every element doesn’t it?
- Control the overall mix
- Rearrange the song however you wish
- Control the volume of each part of the song (kick drum, guitar, vocals etc)
- Control frequencies of each track in order to achieve the perfect balance
Producers and engineers need to have control over their work so that they can deliver industry standard music to their clients.
That is what the stems are used for.
But what if you are an artist and you don’t have a producer friend to help you with this? What good are they to you?
It is becoming the norm for independent artists, perhaps like yourself, to record and mix their own songs. Having the stems of your chosen beat will open up endless possibilities to you.
When you have the stems of your song, you stand the best chance of making your vocals stand out in the mix. It doesn’t take a professional to adjust the volume of a part of the track if you feel it’s too loud. Just move the fader down until you’re satisfied.
The fact of the matter is, every song will need adjustments to make it fit in with your vocals. Everyone has a different voice. It’s not possible to make a beat so perfect that anyone can record themselves over the top of it and call it day. You’ll always have to change something.
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Why Are Stems Better Than A Single .MP3 Or .WAV File?
If you are serious about your music career, don’t use an MP3 file for your song. The quality is lower and they don’t support a high enough dynamic range like .Wav files do.
MP3 files are NOT industry standard and wont get you anywhere close to the quality of the music you hear from your favourite artists. If you send a file like this to a professional engineer to combine with your vocals, they will most likely ask you if you have the stems for the song instead. The same goes for sending them a .wav file. There is only so much they can do with it. Just because it’s a higher quality file doesn’t mean they have any more control over it. It’s still one file that has the whole song on it.
Tip: When buying a single file license, the lower cost licenses tend to send you a Mastered MP3. In my opinion, if someone is selling a MP3 license for $30 and it comes mastered, I would consider buying a beat from someone else. That’s why I sell an Unmastered .wav for $30. You still get the mastered MP3 file, in case you want it for something, but you also get an unmastered .wav file with it. That’s your best starting point as a new artist looking to record a song.
A quick note about mastered beats…
You can’t master a beat that has already been mastered. Mastering is the final process when making a song. It’s like adding the icing onto an already well made cake. The cake will taste nice without the icing, but if you add it, it suddenly becomes a whole lot better.
Here’s an example of one of my beats unmastered
And here’s the same beat mastered
Can you hear the difference? The mastered version is significantly louder and more squashed sounding. You can see the differences in the files just by looking at the display of each beat. The mastered one is more uniform and the loudest parts, shown by the tallest peaks, are all uniform in size. If you buy an already mastered beat, this is what you will get. This is an example of a beat that is finished and for listening purposes only. If you record yourself on top of this with the intention of releasing it, you are not reaching the songs full potential.
Why Are Trackout Licenses More Expensive?
In order to buy a license that comes with stems (trackouts), you’re going to have to be prepared to spend more money. Producers know the value in these types of licenses, so it’s only fair that they charge more money from them.
You should expect to pay anything from about $100-$250 for a license that comes with stems.
I hope that by now you understand what trackout files are and what they can be used for and how they are a good investment.
It’s in your, and the producer’s, best interest to make the best song that can potentially become a hit.
But that’s not the only thing you get with trackout licenses. If you look above at the licenses I offer, you’ll see other significant improvements over the cheaper licenses.
- More plays
- More streams
- More sales
What if the trackout licenses are too expensive?
I understand that $100 can be a lot for some to spend on a beat. If you are unsure about it, then I recommend you buy the standard license for $30 or even the free license if you’re totally new to being an artist.
However, if you are wanting to release songs with the intention of landing a record deal, working with bigger artists or gaining a lot of plays on streaming services, or even a music video, I strongly suggest you consider buying a more expensive license.
If you are still unsure about things after reading this article, you can always contact me if you want to discuss it further.
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Scotland, United Kingdom