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"can you send me the stems?"
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cgarges
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:59 am    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

dwlb wrote:
Chris, do your clients provide a hard drive for the files, or do you sell them a drive, or do you post the files to a dropbox or something for them to pull down? I'm finding it really difficult to hand off project files in a way that doesn't cause clients' heads to explode (keep in mind I work with a fair number of people for whom the concept of an external hard drive is pretty challenging).


For the past 11 years when I've been working on RADAR, I've usually been giving them all their daily DVD-R backups at the end of the project. Now that I'm switching to PT, I'm looking into the most logical options. I like the idea of just throwing in something with the day rate, but it depends on what I can find for hard drives that are reliable, but not too expensive. Honestly, since I've dropped my rate a bit for the first six months of operation in the new studio, I can't really afford to throw in too much extra stuff. People used to care about what amenities came with your studio, but now I'm seeing more people just concerned about the bottom line of a day rate, so I might start charging for things like that. But a one-time fee for a backup USB drive doesn't seem out of line to me at all.

Chris Garges
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JGriffin
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:12 pm    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

cgarges wrote:
dwlb wrote:
Chris, do your clients provide a hard drive for the files, or do you sell them a drive, or do you post the files to a dropbox or something for them to pull down? I'm finding it really difficult to hand off project files in a way that doesn't cause clients' heads to explode (keep in mind I work with a fair number of people for whom the concept of an external hard drive is pretty challenging).


For the past 11 years when I've been working on RADAR, I've usually been giving them all their daily DVD-R backups at the end of the project. Now that I'm switching to PT, I'm looking into the most logical options. I like the idea of just throwing in something with the day rate, but it depends on what I can find for hard drives that are reliable, but not too expensive. Honestly, since I've dropped my rate a bit for the first six months of operation in the new studio, I can't really afford to throw in too much extra stuff. People used to care about what amenities came with your studio, but now I'm seeing more people just concerned about the bottom line of a day rate, so I might start charging for things like that. But a one-time fee for a backup USB drive doesn't seem out of line to me at all.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC


Wow, you're switching to ProTools?
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cgarges
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:07 am    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

dwlb wrote:
Wow, you're switching to ProTools?


Did my first PT mix today.

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roscoenyc
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:42 am    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

Stems require work and attention.
Backup requires little of each and you can keep working on other stuff on your computer.

We have never charged a client for backing up anything. It's a part of digital recording. Part of the every day routine.
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JGriffin
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:21 pm    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

cgarges wrote:
dwlb wrote:
Wow, you're switching to ProTools?


Did my first PT mix today.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC


Not to derail the thread, but how did it go? And why the switch?
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cgarges
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:36 pm    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

dwlb wrote:
Not to derail the thread, but how did it go? And why the switch?


Crashed twice yesterday. Everything took me a long time. I do like not having to worry about running out of tracks, but I hate having to think about routing 40 things to 24 converters. Otherwise, I didn't really do anything on that session that I couldn't have done before, only quicker and more efficiently. I'll get used to it, though, and I'll be pretty quick with it before long. I have pretty much decided to buy an Avid Artist control. The mouse is just too damn slow to deal with and the new Apple mouse is just a nightmare. I've been tracking on it for about a week now and did my first mix yesterday. Have another, more involved mix to do today, followed by more tracking.

I switched basically because now with PT 10, the need for HD is less relevant and more and more artists are caring about me not having PT. In a perfect world for me, where I let people do their jobs and they let me do mine and the only thing that matters in someone choosing to work with me is that they like what my stuff sounds like, I could stick with the RADAR, work quickly, not ever have to deal with system crashes, and have things sound great. But, people do care what I'm recording on and their decision to hire me is becoming affected by that. Can you imagine if I only hired guitar players who played Strats? Anyway, the time seemed right to do it. A lot of things lined up and I decided to pull the trigger. Part of the story is that I lucked into a deal on a iZ ADA converter, which does sound pretty much exactly like the RADAR, so at least I'm not bummed about the drum sounds. And of course, the new rooms sound fantastic. I can be stoked about that while dealing with learning PT.

Also, Roscoe is right. There's a big difference in backing things up and making stems.

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jdo
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:39 pm    Post subject: Stems or audio files? Reply with quote

Hey joninc, I think maybe you're misinterpreting what the client wants? Usually when someone wants stems for a remix now they want individual parts from the mix and not the kind of files you'd prepare for a stems master... I think musicians and engineers often mean different things when referring to stems. You can usually just send the audio files folder and not prepare anything and that will suffice -- if the artist wants certain tracks bounced with effects (vocals, a synth with a particularly specific delay, etc) they'll let you know, or you can ask them, and that may be something you could charge for. But for the most part remixes these days seem to just be a new track written under a vocal stem anyway, so preparing a stereo drum mix, etc isn't likely anything that would be used.

Have a good one!
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joninc
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Stems or audio files? Reply with quote

jdo wrote:
Hey joninc, I think maybe you're misinterpreting what the client wants? Usually when someone wants stems for a remix now they want individual parts from the mix and not the kind of files you'd prepare for a stems master... I think musicians and engineers often mean different things when referring to stems. You can usually just send the audio files folder and not prepare anything and that will suffice -- if the artist wants certain tracks bounced with effects (vocals, a synth with a particularly specific delay, etc) they'll let you know, or you can ask them, and that may be something you could charge for. But for the most part remixes these days seem to just be a new track written under a vocal stem anyway, so preparing a stereo drum mix, etc isn't likely anything that would be used.

Have a good one!


yeah, i hear what you are saying but that's not what the artist was asking for. they always have their own HD with all the files and sessions for their project (that's just part of the process and routine as roscoe said). they could dig through the audio folder but it wouldn't give them anything usable without a whole lot of trouble since they are not compiled files.

they wanted all the consolidated, individual tracks, separately.

i agree that the word "stems" is somewhat vague (to me it implies stereo groups more that individual tracks so i am sure to clarify whenever asked for them).

so far , to the artists i deal with, stems has always meant "all the individual tracks".
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vvv
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:03 pm    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

Huh, not that wikipedia is the end-all authority, but even it says:

"Stem-mixing is a method of mixing audio material based on creating groups of audio tracks and processing them separately prior to combining them into a final master mix. Stems are also sometimes referred to as submixes, subgroups, or busses."

But just search for, "audio stems".
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jdo
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:46 am    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

Right they want individual audio files and not stereo stems of drums/vocs/etc... So can't you just highlight all of the tracks within the project, from start of track to end of track, and hit Shift-alt-3 to consolidate tracks? Then if the client searches the audio files folder you've given them, and sorts the files by date/time, all the new merged "stems" of the same length will appear together at the top... Am I missing something? Sorry if so...
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chris harris
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 10:51 am    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

jdo wrote:
Right they want individual audio files and not stereo stems of drums/vocs/etc... So can't you just highlight all of the tracks within the project, from start of track to end of track, and hit Shift-alt-3 to consolidate tracks? Then if the client searches the audio files folder you've given them, and sorts the files by date/time, all the new merged "stems" of the same length will appear together at the top... Am I missing something? Sorry if so...


Yes, that's the common method of consolidating tracks in Pro Tools. The method varies slightly from DAW to DAW.

But, delivering them in the Audio Files folder of a PT session is not common or standard procedure at all. It's not difficult to take the additional step of exporting the consolidated tracks as .wav files, into a separate folder for each song. I think it'd be kind of a lame move to force your clients or another engineer to go hunting for the consolidated tracks in an Audio Files folder of a PT session.

That said, as easy as all of this sounds, it does still take some time and that time is billable to the client.
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jdo
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:07 am    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

Normally the audio files folder is included in the backup given to a client... But you wouldn't have to EXPORT anything if you consolidated the tracks within the project -- that action creates fully consolidated wav files in the audio files folder (which you can then drag into a separate folder if you want for convenience of locating). This step would take an extra couple of minutes at most, yes? Which wouldn't be something most people would bill for...
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chris harris
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:48 am    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

The OP was asked to do this after the fact, which is not unusual, and is certainly billable.

I don't consolidate as standard procedure on every project I do, for several reasons:

1. Most projects just don't get remixed. It's an extra step in the process that can eat up an hour or more at the end of an album project. Most of my clients prefer to spend that time some other way.

2. Most remixing is done by Pro Tools studios. And, most of the time, they would prefer that I send sessions with live, editable edits, in case any tweaking needs to be done.

3. Consolidating the entire session, but, keeping a copy of the session with live edits, effectively doubles the size of the session that will be backed up/archived/delivered. Whether it's my own in-house backups (on my time) or transferring to clients drives (which is billable), the additional time required is not insignificant.

I only consolidate and prep for remixing when the client specifically asks for it.
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jdo
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:06 pm    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

Depends on the situation... I've never known anyone to want edits intact for a remix. True that most songs don't end up getting remixed, and the artist also usually has in mind those they'll want separate files for. It's best just to ask specifically what the artist wants as the situation can take a significant or insignificant amount of time depending on what is needed. Of course if someone wants every part bounced individually with your effects settings, that will be billable as it will take a lot of your time. If they just want you to merge files and drag the consolidated files into a folder before deleting, that takes all of 5 minutes...
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chris harris
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:50 pm    Post subject: Re: "can you send me the stems?" Reply with quote

jdo wrote:
Depends on the situation... I've never known anyone to want edits intact for a remix. True that most songs don't end up getting remixed, and the artist also usually has in mind those they'll want separate files for. It's best just to ask specifically what the artist wants as the situation can take a significant or insignificant amount of time depending on what is needed. Of course if someone wants every part bounced individually with your effects settings, that will be billable as it will take a lot of your time. If they just want you to merge files and drag the consolidated files into a folder before deleting, that takes all of 5 minutes...


That takes all of 5 minutes for one song. That can take an hour or more away from a busy commercial recording studio to prep tracks for an entire album project.

We're also running into confusion with the term "remix".... For the purpose of this thread, I was assuming the OP meant "mix again", rather than creating a "remix". Both situations require communication with the client and an understanding of what they need. Regardless of what they plan to do with the tracks, there are likely to be different requests/requirements depending on what the engineer wants/needs. That's why I do it on a case by case basis. I've prepped files for several electronic remixes where the remixer wanted mixed down stereo stems of all of the elements. And, almost every session that I've sent out for the other kind of "remix", aka "mix the song again", has requested edits in tact so that fades/crossfades/etc. are still editable.

Working out of a busy commercial recording studio, even a quick bit of work, requested weeks after completion of the sessions, is billable. I've still got to find time where I'm available and the studio is not booked, come in, power up the studio, spend time communicating with the client to assure I don't do a bunch of unnecessary work, do the work, coordinate delivery to the client, etc...

Sometimes things that seem quite quick and easy, are not at all as simple as they seem when this is your job and your studio is busy.
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