What is STEMS?
A STEM file is an audio file that contains a track split into four musical elements: A drums STEM, a bassline STEM, a harmony STEM, and a lead STEM for example. The STEM file also includes the original stereo master of the track for standard playback. The STEM format is an open format, anyone can freely create STEMS without paying licensing fees for creation, distribution, or use of the format. Additionally, all details on how to make and play a STEM file is publicly available.
This guide provides a solid overview of STEMS distribution.
Online music retailers Beatport, Juno, Traxsource, Dubseed.com, and whatpeopleplay offer music in STEM format. With time, more retailers are expected to support the STEM format.
Why use STEMS?
STEMS opens doors to a new hybrid of DJing and Live Production. For the first time, musicians are able to take production to a live setting, and DJs are able to add a new level of excitement and originality to their sets. Lets say a producer has just finished an album, and now wants to perform his creation in a live setting. Using STEMS, he can take multiple instruments and sounds from throughout that album, and mix them together seamlessly, in a way that traditional DJing would not allow. He may decide to mix the drums of one of his tracks, with the baseline of another, and the vocals and lead lines of a third! The possibilities are endless. At a time where live performers are getting a bad rep for simply pressing play behind the decks, STEMS opens doors to new levels of skill and interaction with your music.
STEMS create new revenue opportunities for musicians. DJs and Producers are willing to pay a premium price for such content, meaning that a stem track sells for upwards of 50% more than an original track. STEMS are an 80/20 split with Symphonic meaning you keep 80% of royalties for STEMS purchases.
Anyone can create a STEM file simply by downloading and using Native Instruments free STEM Creator Tool.
The latest version of Traktor Pro 2 is natively compatible with STEMS. There is also third party software called Flow 8 Deck that is stem compatible, and is compatible with many midi controllers. The only DAW production software that is currently compatible with stems is Audacity.
Hardware-wise Native Instruments has created a line of controllers that are intended to be used with STEMS.
For the optimal sound and playback, we recommend mastering STEMS through the same mastering chain that you used on the master track. If you would like some help, hit us up! We have great (and inexpensive) mastering services for STEMS and regular audio files.
If you are having any issues, follow the instructions in the tutorial below:
Creating STEMS via Ableton
This is a helpful tutorial on how to render down STEMS via Ableton. Definitely helpful when creating the new format. If you further need a video visual on how to render your STEMS via Ableton, this video tutorial will help to guide.
So you've created your STEMS, the next step is delivery. We are only able to distribute STEM versions of your tracks if they are accompanied by original releases, as there currently isn’t the ability to do STEM only versions of your release.
If you are an independent artist (not signed to a record label), all of your releases will be placed under the label Symphonic Distribution if approved.
Through SymphonicMS, our delivery dashboard, we have an area that will allow you to deliver your music to our STEMS related partners. The system accepts only prepared STEM files. Simply click the "STEMS" Icon on the SymphonicMS and you are good to go. STEMS are not accepted for ringtones or compilations only Single, EP, or Albums.
STEMS are free to create but are an 80% royalty agreement (you keep 80%) whether you have a label or an artist account.
See STEMS in action!
Check out a few cool demos of the new STEM format by Native Instruments: