Being able to provide your customers with stem files is a huge bonus from your customer’s perspective.
Because stem files give your customers a lot of options and editing flexibility. They can easily pick and choose how to layer the song so that it doesn’t interfere with the visual side of their project.
Ok, let’s back up a little bit…..
In the context of music licensing, a “stem” file is the audio file for one instrument.
Your music project contains multiple tracks and, chances are, you’ve layered a few tracks to make up one instrument sound.
For example, let’s say you have recorded 9 tracks just for your drums. In that case, providing the drum “stems” means you mute everything BUT those 9 drum tracks and bounce them into one WAV file.
You’ll do this for each instrument.
If your track is purchased for licensing, this gives a lot of flexibility to the music department who is working with your tune.
For example, they may like you song but want to adjust the sound of the piano or cut a single melodic phrase. In that case, it’s very helpful for them to have all the stem files. It allows them to edit and play around with your song so that it fits their needs perfectly.
At the top level, this is a requirement, especially in the advertising world.
Side note: you could also create a stem file for a group of instruments instead of just one instrument. For example, larger orchestral projects could have a stem file for 1st violin, a stem file for 2nd violin, a stem file for cello, etc. Or it could be broken down into instrument sections and then you’d have a stem file for all strings, a stem file for brass, etc.
You do NOT edit stem files. One instrument in your song (no matter how many tracks were recorded for this instrument) = one stem file.
Stem files are bounced out of the software used to produce the track (e.g. ProTools, Logic, Ableton Live, etc.).
For music licensing purposes, they should be bounced in 24bit, 48kHz for maximum quality suitable for video.