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Don't forget to make the instrumental mix! DAW Software
Old 19th December 2010
  #1
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Silver Sonya's Avatar
 

Don't forget to make the instrumental mix!



I always forget to do a print of the mix without vocals.

The majority of artists I work with come back and ask for instrumental for licensing. And it's always an embarrassing situation. If we didn't make one at the time, I have to go back and remix. And then I have to charge them, of course.

Bands rarely remember to request this at the time because they're focused solely on making the album. But increasingly, this is not where the music's primary commercial fate will lie.

So, this thread's a reminder: Whenever possible, PRINT AN INSTRUMENTAL VERSION!

Just a matter of muting the vox off and running it again. How hard can it be?

I'm a dummy.

- c
Old 19th December 2010
  #2
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No doubt!

I've had this come back to bite me in the a$$ on more than one occasion.
Old 19th December 2010
  #3
Gear Addict
 

My producer does a mix with just background vox and an acapella mix as well.
Old 19th December 2010
  #4
I'd write it into the contract, they have to check a box if they want the instrumental mix, if they want it done at a later time then they have to pay, etc, etc.
Old 19th December 2010
  #5
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For a number of years now I've been in the practice of doing the following when I start printing a mix :

Mix 1 Finished
Mix 2 Vocal Up (1.5 dB)
Mix 3 Vocal Down (1.5 dB)
Mix 4 Instrumental
Mix 5 Accapella

After that, I'll usually do alternate mixes (Drums/Guitars Up or Down) anyhow. I find it's best just to offer to do it. Sure, more notes and documentation, but It's worth it in the long run. How many times have you heard "It sounds great but if the solo was just a little louder .."

Clients like you for thinking ahead enough to offer them the options. It also makes it much more clear cut that they will need to pay you if they want to pull the whole mix up again and do a Revision.
Old 19th December 2010
  #6
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waxx's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ray_subsonic View Post
For a number of years now I've been in the practice of doing the following when I start printing a mix :

Mix 1 Finished
Mix 2 Vocal Up (1.5 dB)
Mix 3 Vocal Down (1.5 dB)
Mix 4 Instrumental
Mix 5 Accapella

After that, I'll usually do alternate mixes (Drums/Guitars Up or Down) anyhow. I find it's best just to offer to do it. Sure, more notes and documentation, but It's worth it in the long run. How many times have you heard "It sounds great but if the solo was just a little louder .."

Clients like you for thinking ahead enough to offer them the options. It also makes it much more clear cut that they will need to pay you if they want to pull the whole mix up again and do a Revision.
I do rather the same, except in some circumstances when i know it's not needed (jazz, classical and co or reggae dubplates that i mix sometimes)
Old 19th December 2010
  #7
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

Sorry for my ignorance, but when exactly is an instrumental version called for? Like they're splicing in bits of it for a car commercial or something?

Jus wondering when it's used as I didn't realize there was such common call for it.
Old 19th December 2010
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adlen View Post
I'd write it into the contract, they have to check a box if they want the instrumental mix, if they want it done at a later time then they have to pay, etc, etc.
But then if they don't check the box, do the instrumental mix anyway, keep it around and charge them when they ask for it later.
Old 19th December 2010
  #9
Yeah yeah yeah! it's been a sticky on my machine for over a month now heh


Old 19th December 2010
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
But then if they don't check the box, do the instrumental mix anyway, keep it around and charge them when they ask for it later.
Always an option heh

I have checkboxes for everything on my contracts.
Old 19th December 2010
  #11
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Jon Nolan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollo Soul View Post
Sorry for my ignorance, but when exactly is an instrumental version called for? Like they're splicing in bits of it for a car commercial or something?

Jus wondering when it's used as I didn't realize there was such common call for it.
+1 - i wanna know too. i always just assumed this was an effort to CYA at mastering time.
Old 19th December 2010
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Nolan View Post
+1 - i wanna know too. i always just assumed this was an effort to CYA at mastering time.
It can be helpful at the mastering stage, some MEs will ask for a stem mix (also useful for remix purposes) eg. guitars on one stem, vox on another, drums, keys, FX...

Also, as it's been said, an instrumental can be used for advertisements, promotional stuff for the band, etc.
Old 20th December 2010
  #13
Especially helpful to have an instrumental and acapella for licensing to film and TV because it allows the re-recording mixer to duck the vocals in parts where there is dialog so that it doesn't cover, compete with, or otherwise obscure the intelligibility of the dialog. In another licensing application, instrumentals allow you to create a donut for advertising (a hole in the middle without vocals where the announcer can try to part your cash from your wallet). Other times they may just want to vamp on a cool groove as background music and skip the vocals altogether.
Old 20th December 2010
  #14
you gents printing a capella tracks: with or without fx?
Old 20th December 2010
  #15
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricey View Post
you gents printing a capella tracks: with or without fx?
Good one...it starts to become endless doesn't it...do you print the lead vox and backingsepaarate,...withor without FX


my answer...as it is in the mix.
Old 20th December 2010
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
But then if they don't check the box, do the instrumental mix anyway, keep it around and charge them when they ask for it later.
He knows ! heh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricey View Post
you gents printing a capella tracks: with or without fx?
Instrumental With all Instrument FX. Accapella With all Vocal FX.
Old 20th December 2010
  #17
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mu6gr8's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ray_subsonic View Post
For a number of years now I've been in the practice of doing the following when I start printing a mix :

Mix 1 Finished
Mix 2 Vocal Up (1.5 dB)
Mix 3 Vocal Down (1.5 dB)
Mix 4 Instrumental
Mix 5 Accapella
Add a "TV Mix" (main mix minus lead vocal) to the batch, and you'll have all the bases covered.

FWIW you might get in the habit of calling your "finished" mix the "main mix" (or something similar) as a baseline point of reference because there may be some editing done before mastering.

Further, +/- 1.5 dB is a big jump for vocal levels--one of my colleagues does only +/- 0.25 dB because certain labels always pick the vox-up mix without even listening to the main mix. He wants to preserve the integrity of his work, so he won't give the labels enough rope to hang themselves. I find that +/- 0.5 dB is enough to make a difference in my own work.

One more thing: when you document the mixes, specify whether the alt mixes are "LV" up/down or "all vox" up/down.
Old 20th December 2010
  #18
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Hey Michael. All Good Points you're making. My post is really more a bunch of "Guidelines". You have filled in the details I wasn't going to mention, but The Devil is in the details, No?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mu6gr8 View Post
Add a "TV Mix" (main mix minus lead vocal) to the batch, and you'll have all the bases covered.
Can you explain what you usually do with a "TV Mix"? Meaning, whole Track (including BV's) minus Lead Vox? If so, True that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mu6gr8 View Post
Further, +/- 1.5 dB is a big jump for vocal levels--one of my colleagues does only +/- 0.25 dB because certain labels always pick the vox-up mix without even listening to the main mix. He wants to preserve the integrity of his work, so he won't give the labels enough rope to hang themselves. I find that +/- 0.5 dB is enough to make a difference in my own work.
This depends a bit. I'm dealing less directly with A&R/Labels these days and dealing directly with indie bands/artists and management. It can often be surprisingly coarse adjustments (+/- 1.0 - 1.5dB) to keep them Happy while they're in the room. However, the increments you suggest (+/- .25dB steps) are actually far more appropriate and what usually end up being printed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mu6gr8 View Post
One more thing: when you document the mixes, specify whether the alt mixes are "LV" up/down or "all vox" up/down.
Good HouseKeeping. 100% in agreement with this. Thanks for popping in here. You've got a great discography ...

Happy Christmas
Old 20th December 2010
  #19
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mu6gr8's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ray_subsonic View Post
Hey Michael.

All Good Points you're making. My post is really more a bunch of "Guidelines". You have filled in the details I wasn't going to mention, but The Devil is in the details, No?
Yeah Ray, I figured as much, re: guidelines. Nonetheless, your post was so close to covering all the essentials that I couldn't resist chiming in.
Old 20th December 2010
  #20
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Chime away. I read some of the funny stories in your bio. That would be a book I'd love to read. Enjoy Your Christmas
Old 20th December 2010
  #21
Good thread..

I've never been able to find out the etymology of the term "TV Mix" .. I always make em (most people need em these days for performance, in rap/pop/contemporary r&b genres)

Anyone care to shed light?
Old 20th December 2010
  #22
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heimel View Post
My producer does a mix with just background vox and an acapella mix as well.
the acapella was a sometime add on..but that's the way any pro mix with a singer is supposed to be delivered since i started in the biz
Old 20th December 2010
  #23
Gear Addict
I just thought about this a few hours actually. I had to go back into 7 or so mixes earlier and bounce away... And since Pro Tools is real-time I lost myself an hour or so.. I wonder when they will fix that.
Old 20th December 2010
  #24
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guitarmax_99's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ray_subsonic View Post
For a number of years now I've been in the practice of doing the following when I start printing a mix :

Mix 1 Finished
Mix 2 Vocal Up (1.5 dB)
Mix 3 Vocal Down (1.5 dB)
Mix 4 Instrumental
Mix 5 Accapella

After that, I'll usually do alternate mixes (Drums/Guitars Up or Down) anyhow. I find it's best just to offer to do it. Sure, more notes and documentation, but It's worth it in the long run. How many times have you heard "It sounds great but if the solo was just a little louder .."

Clients like you for thinking ahead enough to offer them the options. It also makes it much more clear cut that they will need to pay you if they want to pull the whole mix up again and do a Revision.

I like this approach. By creating an accapella version and an instrumental version you are essentially creating two stems that can be remixed later if your client is unhappy with vocal levels. Great if your mixing OTB and you don't have the ability to recall all of your outboard effects settings.

Is this your thought process?
Old 20th December 2010
  #25
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Sigma's Avatar
i know from doing dance remixes that the labels and producers wanted accapellas to use for other remixers to build tracks from

we started doing accapella mixes in like '84 , 85
Old 20th December 2010
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarmax_99 View Post
I like this approach. By creating an accapella version and an instrumental version you are essentially creating two stems that can be remixed later if your client is unhappy with vocal levels. Great if your mixing OTB and you don't have the ability to recall all of your outboard effects settings.

Is this your thought process?
For a lot of mix situations, it doesn't work this way. An acappella mix with stereo bus compression will have different levels due to not having the band volume pulling the compressor down. So, the two mixes smooshed together will not equal the main mix. This is a job for mix stems - a whole different matter.

Advertising and film placement are two huge revenue streams for artists, labels and publishers. The need for instrumental mixes is huge. Acappella mixes (in my world) are most often used for club remixes - another smaller revenue stream for the artist. The TV mix is for morning talk show appearances where the studio can't handle a full band blasting away on the set, but they want a live singer.
Old 20th December 2010
  #27
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guitarmax_99's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by juniorhifikit View Post
For a lot of mix situations, it doesn't work this way. An acappella mix with stereo bus compression will have different levels due to not having the band volume pulling the compressor down. So, the two mixes smooshed together will not equal the main mix. This is a job for mix stems - a whole different matter.

Advertising and film placement are two huge revenue streams for artists, labels and publishers. The need for instrumental mixes is huge. Acappella mixes (in my world) are most often used for club remixes - another smaller revenue stream for the artist. The TV mix is for morning talk show appearances where the studio can't handle a full band blasting away on the set, but they want a live singer.
That makes sense. Thanks for the response.
Old 20th December 2010
  #28
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mu6gr8's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by coyotekells View Post
I've never been able to find out the etymology of the term "TV Mix"
TV Mix allows the singer to perform live over a canned track on TV. Band can either lip-sync/finger-sync or stay home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Khan View Post
I had to go back into 7 or so mixes earlier and bounce away... And since Pro Tools is real-time I lost myself an hour or so.. I wonder when they will fix that.
There's no way to "fix that" if you're using outboard equipment that has time-dependent functions like attack, release, LFO modulation, decay time, etc. Your mix would need to be 100% ITB with zero hardware inserts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by juniorhifikit View Post
For a lot of mix situations, it [mixing the a cappella & instrumental mixes together to change the vocal level] doesn't work this way. An acappella mix with stereo bus compression will have different levels due to not having the band volume pulling the compressor down. So, the two mixes smooshed together will not equal the main mix.
Technically true, but.... Not everybody mixes into a bus compressor. Even if you do, however, you can still make this work. First of all, you wouldn't be trying to do this if the mix felt right, so it doesn't matter if the "new" mix adds up exactly to the original--either you're going to make it "better" or not. If your compressor is not doing extreme GR, the worst thing that could happen is that a few words might pop out over the top, so you automate a few level rides. You also may need to trim down the instrumental and vocal stems so that you have enough headroom to avoid clipping.
Old 20th December 2010
  #29
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mu6gr8's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by juniorhifikit View Post
Advertising and film placement are two huge revenue streams for artists, labels and publishers.
Most definitely!
Old 20th December 2010
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Khan View Post
I just thought about this a few hours actually. I had to go back into 7 or so mixes earlier and bounce away... And since Pro Tools is real-time I lost myself an hour or so.. I wonder when they will fix that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mu6gr8 View Post
There's no way to "fix that" if you're using outboard equipment that has time-dependent functions like attack, release, LFO modulation, decay time, etc. Your mix would need to be 100% ITB with zero hardware inserts.
Plus if you're not checking the stems as they go down, you're doing a shoddy job.

Everyone makes mistakes, and the number of times I've left something in that I shouldn't have whilst printing a stem...fortunately because I monitor them in real time, I don't think I've ever been caught out. If you don't listen as they go down, you should listen through afterwards. Else the time will come when you don't do your job properly, and you'll pay the price.
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