Vienna Symphonic Library Forum
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  • Film Music Licensing Requests & Mastering vs Stem Mastering?

    Hello folks, I recently got a licensing request from a film company to use one of my tracks which they heard online in their upcoming film. My track wasn't mastered and to be honest I'm an amateur at mixing but it sounded good (probably would sound a lot better if mixed and mastered by pros but I only do this as a hobby so never really thought about it until now). Anyway I did tell them it wasn't mastered but they didn't seem to care and asked me to send them stems to fit the picture better. So I grouped each set of instruments and they said it was perfect. Again they didn't ask any technical questions about mastering or anything so I'm assuming they'll worry about this? This however has got me thinking, if I want to get my next track mastered so it sounds better what happens if I need to send stems again to a licensing client? Mastering only returns 1 mastered file... Or should I be looking at "Stem Mastering" instead? Anyone here ever licensed out their work in stem form before? If so what requirements are the industry standard? Tnx ;)

  • For continuity and consistency I master the stems along with the root track but I do my own mastering and there really isn't that much to it once you've mastered the root track.  Maybe some minor adjustments here and there.

    In the case of a client hearing your music second hand (through a website or CD) they usually want it as they heard it.  In other words, if the version they heard wasn't spiced up then that's generally the version they want.  The risk you run when you try to polish something they've already heard unpolished is you loose whatever it is they're hearing in the track that they like.  If it ain't broken, don't fix it.. It could be that they have plans to master your track and stems themselves in post production because they need it to match the rest of the soundtrack.

    With regards to stems, they should stay consistant with the root track. I would bet that whatever they're hearing in your track has nothing to do with the sound engineering and mastering.  So as long as there isn't any audio artifacts and distortion mastering isn't really necessary. On the other hand, this is a competitive game here and every little thing you can do to make your tracks stand out from the crowd of other tracks helps.

    My advice to you is to learn how to master yourselve.  This is becoming a one-stop shop kind of business these days.  Composers also have to be mixing, sound and mastering engineers too which, like composing, are all forms of art in themselves.

    There are all kinds of resources on the web like Youtube and industry articles.  Or if you feel so inclined take a class.