How to Import / Export Tracks for Collaboration in Your Digital Audio Workstation

Overview

Any audio worker who has ever wanted to share his musical ideas with others can probably tell the tale: It can get pretty damn time-consuming! Although one frequently hears about so-called standards for the exchange of audio projects, the current situation is still sobering.

Many producers and musicians have realized that due to this lack of standards it is best to keep their hands off it and prefer to go for methods that are a bit more elaborate, but work almost anytime: Raw Track Import / Export.

In the following sections you learn how to easily import and export your raw project tracks or stems depending on your DAW.

What to Consider

Call it Bouncing, call it Audio Mixdown or Render in Place. The principle is always the same: For a defined range a stereo audio file including one or more tracks is created. This can often be done in many ways, for example, by incorporating all track's effects and volume data.

But this example is not what we want to achieve here. For others to work on our tracks, we want our material to be raw - that is, without any effects or track settings, like volume or panning. We want files that can easily be re-imported into any other music sequencer software to be processed with completely other effects maybe.

Of course, every DAW has its own process of importing and exporting tracks this way. Find your software in the list below and follow the corresponding link to learn about how to share your project for collaboration.

Before You Export

Understandably, no DAW in the world offers the ability to export everything to perfection with a single click. After all, the customer requirements for an export are always different. However, depending on your collaboration, you should always consider the following:

Normalize Your Tracks

When the time has come to make your project available to others, it is often in an edited state in your DAW. To get your partner started right away, make sure he gets all tracks in a normalized state. Set all your tracks to 0db volume. Most DAWs offer reset functionality here. Same with panning. Does your partner really need stereo vocal tracks? There's a lot to think about. However, after a few times this should become routine.

Choose the Right Starting Point

Nothing is more annoying than having to push the received tracks around in the DAW to get them aligned to the beat. You can easily prevent this by exporting your tracks properly cut. Always start at the beginning of a bar.

How "Raw" Should It Get?

This topic causes probably the most misunderstandings between collaborators. It should be clear that for a remix of a song all tracks should be provided without parallel effects like reverb or delay. But what about insert effects? Gate? Guitar effects? Vocals pitch corrections?

The best way to find out how much "rawness" your counterpart expects from you is through a clarifying conversation. However, we always recommend to export as few effects as possible, without putting too much work on your partner that you've already done anyway.

Import & Export Guides for Common Sequencer Software