What Are Beat Stems/Trackouts and Why Should You Use Them?
You’ve probably seen the terms “trackouts”, “tracked out files”, or “track stems” used on beat stores when you’re shopping for beats. If you’re confused about what the heck they’re talking about, keep reading as we explain what they are and why you should care.
Trackouts or stems are the individual audio files for each instrument which means that they’re SINGLE instrument tracks. For example, the independent audio files for the Kick, Snare, Guitar or Piano. The instruments are separated and placed on their own file. Okay, so what’s it for?
There are many benefits of tracked out stems but the biggest one of all is the CONTROL. You can adjust the volume or frequency of any instrument and even add special effects if you want. Is there a certain Instrument you don’t particularly like, you can take it out too! Stems ensure that the mix meets not only the industry’s standard but yours as well.
If you’re still not convinced, here’s your not so ideal “alternative”: using a single WAV or MP3 files. If you want your music to rival what’s currently trending on streaming platforms then this is NOT the way to go as it's the lowest possible quality of a track. Remember too that these files are already mastered to the producer’s liking and they surely didn’t have your vocal tone or any of your preferences in mind. Maybe you’re thinking that you can still master it after recording your vocals, but that might be much harder than you think. It will most likely come out distorted and unbalanced because the volume of a certain instrument may overpower your voice.
Think of it this way, you buy a slice of cake that you think will taste great, but realize it doesn’t have the exact flavour that you want... What can you do? Nothing, really. All the ingredients are permanently baked in. You can’t add or subtract anything to make it better. However, if you had all the ingredients yourself you’d be able to add as much of each thing making it perfect for you! Tracked stems are like those ingredients and a stereo mixdown is like that baked cake.
Now let’s talk some dollars and SENSE. We’ll admit, getting a licence with tracked out stems is more expensive, but you can see why right? The end product is adjustable, you get the opportunity to make a great quality song and you even get better user rights. We get it though if you’re just starting, your pockets may not be as deep just yet. We encourage you to at least get a licence with a WAV version. Yes, it's limited but if it’s mixed properly, a good engineer should be able to use it for your song to give you a decent end product.
However, if you’re serious about your music career, track outs or stems are the way to go. You can have more control and ensure that the end product is mixed to perfection. We’d hate to see a potential hit song fail because of an unbalanced beat, so give it some thought next time you’re looking to buy beats online.