This article will look at how loud your beats should be when you send them artists to rap over.
We will look at why loudness matters, and towards the end of the article, we will look at some frequently asked questions related to sending beats to artists and selling beats online.
How loud should your beat be for someone to rap over?
In general, you should leave around 4-8dB of headroom in your beats. The key thing to remember when mixing your beat to send to an artist is headroom. Headroom is the space between the loudest peak in your beat and 0dB (decibels). It is essentially the space you leave for the engineer to work with.
If you send a beat to an engineer with 0dB of headroom, they will have to reduce the volume of your beat significantly to create their own space to work with. Not only does this make the mixing process harder for the engineer, but it will also negatively affect the sound of your beat.
Reducing the volume can badly affect the punchiness and dynamic range of your track, and in many genres like Drill, Trap, Hip-hop, and RnB, punchiness is a key factor of the beat. The engineer can always attempt to bring the punchiness back, but that’s just more work that could have easily been avoided if you left headroom.
If you’ve sent the beat that’s been limited at 0dB, Clipped, and Compressed, then you’ve already got less dynamic range on your beat. When the engineer adds the vocals and their Limiters and Compressors, your beat will sound squashed and bad due to poor dynamic range.
The simple way to leave headroom in your mix is not to hit 0dB. But of course, there is more to it, but keep that in mind when mixing your beats.
The consensus is to leave around 4-8dB of headroom in your beats. Most of my beats hit around -4dB at their peak and sit at around -6dB to -8dB. Some engineers may prefer more headroom, and that’s fine; if your tracks are hitting below -3dB to -4 dB at their peaks, then even if the engineer does reduce the volume slightly, your dynamic range will not be as negatively affected as it would if your beat was hitting 0dB.
Why does it matter how loud your beat is?
The Loudness of your beat is important because it can negatively affect the overall track if it’s too loud or quiet. Most beginner producers think it doesn’t matter how loud the beat is because the mix engineer can always reduce the volume of the beat during the mix stage.
This is true; however, if your beat is sitting at 0dB, the engineer will have to reduce a significant amount of volume. Doing so will negatively affect the beat’s dynamic range and reduce some punchiness.
Why do some producers have a different version of the same track?
Some producers have two versions of the same track as the one they post online doesn’t have to be as specifically mixed as the one they send to an artist, allowing them to make the one they post online sound as loud and full as possible.
When mixing your track, you could consider making two versions, one with the additional headroom and a vast dynamic range for an engineer to work with and one for online platforms with less headroom and less dynamic range but with more punch and volume.
People do this as the version you upload online is meant to catch the listener’s attention as opposed to the version you send to the engineer, which needs to be more specifically designed to allow for the Artist’s vocals to sit nicely on top.
How loud should your beat be for YouTube, BeatStars, and other platforms?
When uploading beats online, you should always check the preferred loudness of each platform, as some may vary in how they affect the audio files you upload. You should leave at least 1dB of headroom in your tracks. The beat you upload to YouTube, BeatStars, and so on can differ from the beat you send to an artist.
You can have a separate mix for these platforms because you don’t need that extra additional headroom.
Having your beat sit at around 0dB to -1dB means you can have a nice loud and punchy track online to catch the attention of artists. Of course, some producers think this is cheating, but at the end of the day, once the engineer has fully mixed and mastered your Artist’s version of the track, it’s going to sound even better than this version.
What type of files should you send to Artists?
You should be sending either MP3 or WAV files to artists. Of course, there are many different file types within the realm of digital audio. MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF, DSD, and many others. However, we are going to look at the two most popular file types and their uses, and these are MP3 and WAV.
The most common format that you will find producers and other musicians using. MP3 files are good quality and small, making them ideal for quickly sending files.
Considered one of the best quality formats. WAV files are undoubtedly better quality than MP3 files but are significantly larger.
When sending beats that haven’t been purchased to artists and other producers, it’s best to use MP3. Not only are MP3 files smaller, making them a lot easier to send around quickly, but lower quality means people are less likely to use these beats within their track without paying you for the WAV version.
When sending beats that have been purchased to an artist, then WAV is a clear choice. Almost all artists will want WAV versions of the beat in their tracks so sending them first without the Artist having to ask for it is a good way to secure repeat customers.
Some producers will charge extra for a WAV lease as opposed to an MP3 lease, and this is a good route you could take if you want to earn a little more for each beat sale or lease.
What are Track-outs?
Track-outs (also known as stems) are the individual tracks for each instrument within your beats. Many mix engineers prefer having track-outs as it gives them much more freedom during the mixing process. Track-outs usually have around ten different tracks: Snare, Hi-Hat, Kick, Percussion 1, Chords, Pad, Lead, Subbase, Top Base, and Percussion 2. You will also need to send effects like risers and so on. Of course, track outs are not limited or expected to have this number of tracks as some beats could have well over 30 different tracks throughout, and some could have as little as 5.
There are two types of track-outs: one with all the plugins bypassed and one with all the changes and effects you’ve made. When all the plugins are bypassed, the engineer has complete control over how the beat will sound. When all your plugins and effects are on the files, the engineer will be able to adjust the volume levels to their liking during the mix.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to send track-outs with your beats if you don’t want to. However, this may affect whether the Artist purchases the beat or the lease, and you can also charge a higher fee if the Artist is requesting track-outs.
I’d recommend you leave around 3dB-8dB of headroom in your beats when you have an artist adding vocals. It can be different for every engineer; some require more, some require less, but generally, 3dB-6dB of headroom is a reasonable amount of space for the mix engineer to work with.
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I’m a Music Producer and Sound Engineer from the UK. I have been working with music my whole life and I’m currently studying Music Production and Sound Engineering at university.