If you are an artist new to recording in the studio or perhaps you're seasoned but no engineer or producer has ever taken the time to break down some of our lingo in the studio, that's what this blog will attempt to do! You may have heard the terms "stems", "multi-tracks" or "track out", and "2-tracks" or "stereo beats" and had no clue what that meant so allow me to break it down as quick and simply as I can.
As pictured below, stems are all the individual audio files for a beat or song, organized into like groups such as Drum Stems, Vocal Stems, Guitar Stems, etc. Stems are often used when you're submitting music for tv or film placements in order to give them more flexibility over where and how to fit your music into their scenes.
Multi-tracks or track-outs as they're called sometimes are similar to stems in that it's all the individual audio files in a beat or song but it is NOT organized into groups like stems (view picture below). It is just the individual files themselves, separate. This is really useful if you're ultimately trying to have your song professionally mixed, mastered, and released to the public on digital streaming platforms. This gives your engineer more flexibility over adjustments that may need to be made to any of the sounds.
The use of 2-tracks/stereo beats i find most common when working with independent Hip-Hop and R&B artists. These beats are almost always less expensive to lease or purchase than track-outs. These beats don't contain all the individual sounds that make up a beat but rather all the sounds have already been mixed together into a stereo beat (view picture below). This is what you will find when downloading beats off of youtube or purchasing a basic lease for a beat. This can be good if you are just testing the waters and not ready to commit to a career in music but it also limits your engineer to changes that he or she can make to the beat. For example, if the bass is too loud, the drums too quiet, and the piano is distorted, you can't go in and make changes to each of those sounds individually.
Ultimately the decision you make between stems, multi-tracks, and 2-tracks will probably be determined by your goal for the song and your budget. The MOST IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER NO MATTER WHAT DECISION YOU MAKE: JUST MAKE DOPE MUSIC!!!
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