How do I prepare my files?

The single most important part of this process is making sure your source files are neatly prepared.

Most DAW software provides some method for exporting tracks. You will need to think about what you want to send.

Some tips/ideas:

Only include items that you want to hear in your mix.

Including scratch tracks and alternate takes could cause confusion and result in an undesirable mix.  Including tracks with processing/mix ideas is encouraged, but any reference track should be clearly labeled as such.

Consolidate and clearly label tracks.

Any comp’d tracks should be consolidated into full takes/clips/items.  In addition, clearly label the track/file names to reflect what is contained in the track.

Properly export files.

Export mono tracks as mono files, and stereo tracks as stereo files (or dual-mono). Exporting mono tracks as stereo files just doubles the size of the file and increases your upload times.

When exporting tracks, make sure you’re exporting without any track/bus processing (unless it’s a critical part of the sound).

Any tracks with special effects/processing that you like should be rendered/saved/exported with those effects. If you’re unsure of the effects, perhaps export a file with and one without them.

Include tempo/tempo maps and time/key signatures.

Songs with a single tempo throughout can just include this in a text file, or maybe in the title of the “zip” or compressed file for upload (i.e. my_new_song_98bpm.zip).  For songs with tempo maps or time/key signatures, please export a MIDI file with the session. The MIDI file will contain the tempo and time/key signature data which will make creating a mix session much easier.

Documentation.

While not necessary, you may want to include a text file with some notes about the project. Say what the song is about, what kind of feel or sonic goals you want to achieve.

Final steps.

Once your tracks are exported, it’s easiest to transfer them if they’re all included in a “zip” file. Most computer operating systems provide a method of creating a compressed file containing all of your project files. When all of your files are zipped up, you’re ready to upload your project!