So, you’re interested in starting to upload your beats for sale online? Or maybe you’re already doing that but are unsure if you’re doing it right? Maybe you’re wondering if you should mix and master beats before uploading?
This is probably the most common question I answer on a weekly-basis from new beatmakers and music producers. The short answer, yes!
But it’s a bit more complicated than that. Let’s dive into it.
Never Release Beats That Are Not Mixed
When you upload beats online, you’re showcasing your work to the world. The listeners will make a decision whether to download or buy your beats based on what they hear.
Why wouldn’t you mix your beats before uploading them for sale? You should always mix your beats as best as you can.
Mixing the beats is your duty as a music producer.
Your beats are the products that you sell, whether you’re selling them directly via email or using a platform like BeatStars. The beats should be ready for the artists to download, buy and use. It’s not the customers responsibility to mix something they bought. Makes sense? Good!
Leave Room For The Vocals
It’s very important to leave room in the beat for the vocals. After all, the purpose of beats that are sold to artists is that they will lay vocals on top of the beat. The beat is only a backing track for the main performance.
The artists will hard time making the song sound good if the beat is filled with too many distinctive instruments and melodies that could be in contradiction with the vocals. Keep that in mind when creating.
When mixing the beat, leave room in the stereo field for the vocals. Most commonly the main vocals are positioned in the center of the mix. Don’t position everything in the beat to the center as well or they will get in the way of the vocals.
Personally, I like to place kick, snare and bass always in the center of the mix because they carry the rhythm with them. Then, I pan the main instruments close to the center but not quite. They should be spread a little bit to the sides to free space in the center field, but still close to the center point to make sure they are heard when playing the track in mono speakers. Everything else may vary based on the beat.
The most important thing is to make sure everything is balanced. If you’ve panned an instrument on the far left side, it should have a partner on the far right side.
TIP: If you’re not sure if there’s enough room for the vocals, download any acapella vocal online and place it on top of the beat temporarily. It really helps to hear what the beat sounds like when there’s vocals on top of it.
Don’t Over-Master Your Beats
Every time you upload beats online, you should showcase them in the best possible way. This means that the beats should not only be mixed, they should mastered as well.
Any artist would feel weird (an unimpressed) if the beats are not mastered and they play 15 dB quieter than everything else they’re listening to. That’s not good.
Mastering is tricky though….
You want to mix and master beats to show the artists what the beat sounds like when it’s loud and everything sounds as good as possible. Everything is glued together with mastering
But, you don’t want to over-master the beats either. You should remember that the beats are not the finished product. Artists will still lay vocals on top of the beats and it will go through another mastering process after that.
If you over-master your beats, it’s very difficult for the mastering engineer to work their magic.
You need to find the sweet spot with mastering. You should master the beats to some extent but also leave room for more mastering. I tend to put a limiter in the master bus and limit everything to -1-3 dB. This gives the mastering engineer some headroom to work with. If your beats are mixed properly to give room for the vocals as well, this amount of headroom should be enough.
Note: Often artists may want to receive the un-mastered version or all the separated audio files of the beat for professional mixing of the track. In this situation, the mastering doesn’t matter at all. This is the ideal situation, but don’t happen always.
Export All Files After Finishing A Beat
After finishing a beat and preparing to upload it online, export all possible files of the beat! You want to have all files available if anyone ever asks.
I can’t even remember how many times producers have said to me they don’t have specific files for a beat because the project files was corrupted and they didn’t export the files from the session. They basically lost the beat at that point.
I suggest exporting at least the following files after finishing a beat:
- Mixed and mastered WAV-file (24-bit)
- Unmastered but mixed WAV-file (24-bit)
- Mixed stems (separated audio files of the beat in .WAV)
In my experience of decade of producing, these files should be enough. The most important files are the stem files that are basically all the individual audio files of the beat. If something is wrong with the mixed or mastered version of the beat, it can be fixed with the stem files.
In very rare occasions, someone have requested the unmixed stem files of the beat but that’s so rare that I don’t think it’s a necessity.
It’s very important to mix and master beats to show all listeners and possible customers your best work.
What did you think of this article? Does it all makes sense to you? Let me know 🙂 If you’re interested in making music production your full-time job, consider reading this article first.