When working on releasing new music, you may have heard the phrase; “music stems”. Many of our self-producing artists know the term well but many may not. Music stems are key to have (or create) if you are considering monetizing music with synch
If you are not sure what Music Stems are and why they are important this post is for YOU!
What Are Music Stems?
Stems are the isolated audio tracks that make up the whole song.
Stems are necessary for sync licensing. It might surprise many artists to know that they can’t simply submit a mixed and mastered version of their work to a music supervisor! In addition to the full track, there will also most likely be a request for stems.
For example, let’s say a music supervisor has informed you that your song “xyz” has been considered for placement. Not only do they ask for high-res audio files of an Instrumental and mastered version of your song, they ask you to send STEMS grouped together in multiple isolated files: Guitar, Synths, Vocals, Drums, Bass, and piano. Each individual instrument and track is labeled as its own musical work.
If you have four electric guitar recordings, you can group them together for a simultaneous mixture of sounds. Since it’s coming from the same family of instruments, you can group these together and send them as one stem. Stems essentially allow you to separate and group your song into workable sections.
Unfortunately, lots of musicians don’t have access to their stems and instrumentals. This is either because the music was recorded back before they realized they need to save their stems, or because the stems were lost due to a crashed hard drive, corrupted files, or out-of-date plug-ins. It can be expensive for indie artists to go back to the studio and pay for someone to dig up old files and recreate the stems. One important thing to note is that the stems usually come with the project and are easy bounce-outs. So moving forward make sure. you get all of your stems. Also, be sure to ask your producer for stems in your next agreement.
Significance of Music Stems
Creating and sharing music stems opens the door to many possibilities. You can take the stems from one track and use them to create a new track without it sounding like the same song. Stems are also far easier to store as they don’t take up as much space as bouncing each individual track. This can also make submitting to supervisors a whole lot more organized. There are so many other reasons why you should keep your stems,(they are after all your intellectual property).
The sync world moves fast, and you will 99% not going get the placement if you don’t have your stems immediately ready. Plus, if you have an agent, they 100% of the time will ask for the stems before they move forward with you. If you don’t have stems, they won’t pitch you for trailers. Stems are only used in sync when pitched to commercials, trailers, and promo. They are not used for TV shows.
Sending Music Stems
One important part of getting your music ready for sync is making sure that you have stems and instrumentals available for your songs. Music editors often need to be able to work with the parts of a song, not just the full mix. Sometimes, not having your instrumentals can mean that a sync deal falls through. In fact, when you send your pitches, you should consider including the instrumental version in order to make it easy for the music supervisor or editor to visualize your work alongside their production.
If you have an agent, send the stems their way, otherwise, it’s time to organize your dropbox or create a paid account with Disco.ac. All music supervisors use this site.
How To Quickly Create Your Own Music Stems
I was recently introduced to the CEO and co-founder of a new company that is providing an affordable and fast solution for artists called AudioShake. Jessica Powell generously gave me a demo and AudioShake is really miraculous. They have built A.I. that recognizes different components in a piece of audio. It then isolates that track so you can use it. Their technology is used by all three major labels as well as many top indies, publishers, distributors, and music libraries. Since launching last year, their stems have landed in various brand-name commercials and trailers, including this song “Future” from indie band Torches which was featured in a Super Bowl commercial.
They’ve recently launched a service for indie artists at AudioShake Indie. You can upload your music in practically any format: MP3, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, AIF, MP4A, and M4A (high resolution is recommended for best results).
Music Stems Are Not Just For Synch! Use Them For Marketing
OK, so you now know that if you are attempting to put these songs into a sync catalog and have no idea where to start for getting stems, Audioshake is the perfect avenue. But of course I always like to see through the lens of: How can musicians use this for marketing? I’m gonna tell you!
Here Are Some Marketing With Music Stems Ideas
Create an instrumental version of your most popular track and make it the exclusive download for new fans signing up to your mailing list
Isolate the stems and use them as part of a remix contest
Create an instrumental and ask your fans to participate in a karaoke contest
Update older tracks or create new versions of past songs
Here’s a demo movie so you can see it in action. Head on over to the site and try it for free.
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