Don’t leave the studio without doing these things
So you’re all done recording your next song. You’ve laid down final takes for all the tracks, mixed everything and decided on the final master. Congrats!
But before you call it a day and prepare to distribute to streaming platforms, there are a few things many musicians forget to do that can take their song to the next level.
Burn instrumental mixes
While you have all the tracks in front of you and the final mix ready to go, make sure to also save an instrumental version of the song. Thankfully this is super easy to achieve. Just mute the vocal tracks on your mix and you’re good!
An instrumental mix makes your music more attractive to music supervisors for synchronization placement in media like TV shows and movies. It gives the project’s editor the option to cut between the instrumental and vocal versions if your lyrics or singing in a certain section distract from the dialog or mood.
Print Stems for remixers
Stem tracks are stereo tracks that group similar instruments together on their own individual tracks.
It is industry standard to create four of these separate tracks. An example from a typical rock song would be: the main riff; the chorus hook; bass guitar; drums and percussion. Or for electronic music you could split the vocal hook, the synths, bass drop and the beat.
These individual tracks make it easier for DJs and other sound manipulators to remix your song. Remixing brings more attention to your original work and provides the possibility to reach an audience beyond your immediate circle of fans.
Try an alternate mix
Play around with the mix of your song. Maybe strip away some of the studio bells and whistles and just leave the basic tracks for one version. Or if you feature a guest musician on a verse, add some more of their contribution that didn’t make the final cut on the original mix.
Get (at least) two masters
Yes, the industry standard for mastered audio is still 16-bit, 44.1 khz. But an increasing number of platforms are accepting hi-res audio.
Before you sign off on your master, ask your engineer to make a high resolution version at 24-bit and 88 khz as an audiophile alternative. Your stereo nerd fans with top-shelf equipment will thank you. (As an intermediate audiophile, I can vouch for the little rush of excitement I get from seeing the “HR” tag denoting hi-res audio when I cue a new album on my digital audio player.)
You’ll need a version without crossfades
If you recorded an entire album instead of one song, you might have added transitions of gapless play to connect your songs for a more seamless listening experience. But what if you want to release a few songs on their own as singles? A carry-over from the previous song in the sequence can create an awkward effect when the song is taken out of context of the album. Make versions of the songs you plan to release as singles with crossfades. This eliminates any transitional audio into or out of the song so it stands on its own.
Don’t forget your split sheets!
If you wrote the song with others, agree on the songwriter splits and document them as soon as possible. This way who owns what percent of the song is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Better for all involved to sign off on it now than later down the road when you might not be in the same room together.