If you’re looking into getting the most possible professional sounding song, getting tracked out files (also called stems) is a must. In this guide, I’ll explain the benefits of getting tracked out stems instead of single MP3 or WAV files.
At the end of this article, you’ll understand:
- What’s exactly tracked out stems.
- What you can do with them.
- Benefits over just having a single file.
- Why licenses including stems are more expensive.
What’s exactly tracked out stems
Tracked out files or stems are the individual tracks that make an instrumental beat (e.g. the guitar track, the bass track, kick, snare, etc.). Premium licenses always include the tracked out files. Whereas Basic Licenses always include just one final mastered file (on MP3 and/or WAV format).
To put it in a more visual way:
There are two types of stems: INDIVIDUAL STEMS (e.g. kick stem, snare stem, hi hat stem, etc.) and GROUP STEMS (e.g. drums stem). Individual stems are usually better over group stems, as it will allow you to have more control over the final mix.
If you buy a Premium license and it comes with group stems you can always ask the producer to share individual tracks for a certain instrument or for the entire song.
What you can do with tracked out stems
When you get tracked out stems you’re making sure you can have absolute control over the final product. By getting the tracked out stems of an instrumental, you’ll be able to:
- Adjust the volume, panning, EQ and effects of each individual instrument/track.
- Personalise the song structure to adapt it to your personal wishes (e.g. remove the drums on the verses, add a bridge part, duplicate the chorus length, etc.).
- And, the most important: balance all the song elements in a way you make sure your vocals sit perfectly in the overall mix.
Benefits of stems over a single file
As we saw above, when you purchase a Basic License you’re getting just one file. That one file you’re getting is already mastered. This means, there’s little room in terms of volume to add more elements without losing dynamics and quality. The result will be far from professional.
If you’re willing to mix your song with a mixing engineer, they will ask you for all the stems to start working on your project. If you tell them you just have one file for the instrumental, chances are they won’t accept to work with you. And if you happen to mention that the one file you have for the instrumental is an MP3, they will probably laugh at you.
WAV vs MP3?
If for any reason you’re planning not to get a Premium License, WAV Licenses are MUCH better than MP3 Licenses. MP3 is a compressed low-quality format, so if you’re taking your music career seriously, please avoid getting an MP3 License. WAV is a high-quality non-compressed format that will help you get a far more decent result over MP3.
Why licenses including stems are more expensive?
Well, I think the benefits of getting tracked out stems are already quite clear, right?
Premium licenses including stems are more expensive because they allow you to have more control over the final product and, on top of that, they allow you for more promotional power and potential reach. Here’s the differences between all the Licenses I offer:
I hope this guide helped you to understand the benefits of tracked out stems over single MP3 or WAV files.
IMPORTANT: If you’re not willing to make the investment right away and your budget forces you to go for a less expensive license, you can always upgrade your license at a later stage. You’ll only pay the difference between the set price of the licenses.