How to Prepare Your Song for Mixing
If you are looking to send files to any mixing engineer, most likely they are going to ask you to send them what are called “Stems” or “Track-outs”. Too many people complicate this very simple process, but you’ll have everything you need in less than 5 minutes reading this blog post. Lets get started:
Step 1: Export a Rough Mix or Demo
Before you do anything else, it’s important to save a version of how you have everything at the present moment. That’ll give your mix engineer the opportunity to hear what you have so far and get a better idea of your vision for the track.
Step 2. Decide what effects or plugins you want to keep
This is probably the most important step because whatever you decide will be staying, is going to forever be on the song. If you have any doubts at all, remove everything.
*Sometimes the plugins or effects are an important part of the sound.
Ex.1 You may have a synth bass that’s too crazy so you shaped it with some EQ and then decided you wanted it to be even crazier and added a bit of distortion.
Ex.2 You have an autotune effect on the vocals for a certain “flair”.
Most of the time, your mix engineer will be able to replicate what you have done to the sound. Only keep those plugins if you are 100% sure that you want to commit to that sound. If you want to get really fancy, you can export 2 versions: one without any effects (dry version), and one with the effects you want to keep (wet version). Keep in mind that some mix engineers charge by track count, so that might eat into your budget. If you have a million background vocals, you might want to consolidate those too.
Step 3: Remove Everything Else
Bypass every plugin and aux send in the DAW. Yes, everything. Reverb, Delays, EQ, Compression, and any other cool plugin you have.
Step 4: Make A Selection
You’ll need to select the length of the entire song in your timeline/edit window. Make sure that when you hit “play” it starts and ENDS where you want.
This is important because all the tracks need to start and end at the same spot. Your mix engineer will import everything and throw it at the start of the session. When he does that, everything will line up exactly the way you had it.
Step 5: Export
Every platform has different ways of making this part faster. The old school way of doing it is literally hitting SOLO (yes the little “S”) and bouncing a .wav file of every single element on your session.
If you have offline bouncing, congratulations! If not, you’ll be sitting there for a couple hours.
Now that you have exported your tracks, you can send them to us through our handy upload form.
Have an idea for future blog posts? Let us know in the comments.