Regularly i try to work together on songs or remixes with other musicians. Sometimes far away and sometimes close, but without actually sitting together at the mixing desk. For me the common way for this collaboration is the use of stems.
Stems are the raw sound files of a song, track by track. Or submix by submix. Usually, with as little as effect processing as possible. Or with full effect processing if needed for specific tracks. It is also common to give the return channels as separate tracks, so the other side can mix back some effects if needed.
These stems can be send to a fellow musicians over the Internet. On the other side you colleague then creates a new empty project and copies all the sound files in separate tracks on his or her side. This should allow your partner in music to replay the entire track from any DAW without any need for the original components that were needed to create it. He or she then can remix the song to your liking and replace tracks with your own arranged versions of that track. Voilá, a new mix or arrangement of the same song.
Did you realize that these stems are also an excellent backup for your projects? If your PC suddenly dies, you might find that you are not able to recreate the same setup with the same plugins. Or if you get an update from hell that breaks your song setup, you’ll still have the stems to recreate the mix.
If needed you music pal cal return the stems of his or her remix of the song and you can in turn start remixing and rearranging that!
Do not forget to also tell the other side the original recording tempo. This will help make a smooth start building a new project with the audio files.
It can help to aptly name all the sound files, otherwise the other side will waste a lot of time finding out what all tracks contain. Like “Vocals Chorus Backing” and “Base drum”.
Sharing the stems can be difficult because of the sheer size of all raw audio files. Do not fret: Dropbox or Wetransfer can do the job.