If you are planning on sending out your songs to be professionally mixed there are some things that I’ve listed here that will help save you time and money.

          1. Edit your tracks- Make sure to take the time to get rid of everything in your tracks that is unwanted. These can be things like breaths or small mouth noises in vocal tracks or parts of songs that contain open mics. Basically whatever you don’t want to come through the speakers, get rid of it.
          2. Apply fades to your edits- After taking the time to edit your tracks the next step is to apply fades. Whether they are 1 millisecond long or taper off over several seconds this is one of the most crucial steps in editing. Not applying fades to your edit points can create things like pops and clicks that are hard to pinpoint and correct later on, especially if you’ve consolidated your tracks.
          3. Print or consolidate your tracks- After all your tracks are edited the next step is to print or consolidate your tracks. To put it simply, this creates a complete track from the start of the song to the last waveform, allowing us to export a clip that will line up perfectly, where we want it when we import it into any other DAW. Here is an example or what that looks like.

            As you can see the second and third tracks I’ve taken and edited down until all that is left is the part that I want. The first and fourth tracks are the same tracks, but I’ve consolidated them to create a track that is a complete track from beginning to end, leaving no empty space. This insures that each track will line up properly when imported into any other DAW. If there is a specific effect or way that you want your track to sound, I recommenced including both the raw track as well as a secondary printed track with the effects intact (this also applies to virtual instrument and midi tracks as well). You should also note the details or any other pertinent information about what your effects chain looks like and list it in the text file listed below.
          4. Name and number your tracks- After you’ve consolidated your tracks, rename each of your tracks with a number (I suggest using all double digits starting with 01) and a name that is befitting the track. If your original track was simply named Timmy because that is the name of your bass player, rename the track something like 01 Bass or 01 Bass Timmy if you prefer to keep names intact. Make sure to keep like minded things (like drums) together and if you’re sending out an album keep the core tracks numbered and named the same; adding in the odd tracks at the end.
          5. Bounce or export your tracks- At this point the next step is to individually export your tracks. Theses need to be WAV files and unless they are something like synths or keyboard tracks that have a right and left channel, they should all be mono. You also need to talk to your engineer and decide on the technicalities like sample and bit rates before you export your tracks.
          6. Create a file structure- The next step in the process should be creating a file structure that suits your project. Be sure to include a text file for each song with any special instructions for things like delays, reverbs or special effects. It’s also useful to include basic song maps with things like song structures (in measures or minutes and seconds), tempos and beats per minute (BPMs). Here is sample of a good folder structure:
          7. Compress your file- If you are planning on sending your files to your engineer via the internet, I suggest compressing your files before your send them. This creates a single file that will take much less time to get to your Engineer.
          8. Create a backup- Once you’ve got everything ready to be sent off, create a backup of your files on some kind of storage device such as a CD, DVD or external drive. I only mention this here because I have seen files become corrupted or get wiped out before and its never a pleasant thing.
          9. Send your files off- The last step is to send your files off to your engineer.

-S. F. Shields

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