“Who let the dogs out?” If you frequent karaoke bars, you’ll probably hear that question a lot followed by shouts of “woof—woof,” as it is the punchline from the famous Baha Men’s song of the same name.
Never mind the fact that the singing might be way off-key, the background music alone is usually enough to entertain the crowd. Like that song, extracting the backing track is essential for use at karaoke parties and for a number of other purposes.
But achieving this is not always simple and the results sometimes may not be what you expected. Below, we’ll talk a little more about this and how to get great background music tracks for singers.
Whether you call them instrumental tracks, playback, rehearsal tracks, or simply backing tracks, background music tracks are important to singers at all levels.
A background music track is simply a recorded piece of music that has the vocal parts missing or canceled out. It is used for a number of purposes, including karaoke performances, voice-overs, creating remixes, or simply as a base to create new songs altogether, provided that permission is given to use it for such.
If you are seeking to find them online, and they are available, you should know that they exist in a number of formats. This is important to know because each format comes with advantages and disadvantages that you need to bear in mind before downloading, even if they are free.
- Karaoke tracks
One of the most popular backing track file types. They are used by DJs at karaoke bars and have to be paired with a particular type of music player or software that allows the lyrics to be displayed on a screen, so the singer can follow along, in sync with the pace of the music.
They can be found all over the internet – many downloadable for free and some requiring payment depending on the song and how accessible the backing tracks are – and in various formats, including mp3.
- Midi backing tracks
These are tracks produced using digital instruments. They can be downloaded from various sites (both free and paid) and can be pure instrumentals or instrumentation with lyrics. If lyrics are included, special software is usually required to decode them. Additionally, since midi tracks are digitally created, they can be modified using suitable DAWs and other music editing software, so you can add or remove instruments as needed, as well as modify the sound of each to create what you want.
- Audio tracks/instrumentals
These are instrumentals (stems) that have been recorded live but can also include pre-programmed instruments. More importantly, they are often of a higher quality than midi files and are, therefore, better choices for professional singers who want to use them in creating cover versions or original songs. Unlike midi files, they also are not able to be modified by the user, so you can’t change instruments or how they sound, although you can add on to them.
While there are tons of free background music tracks for singers available online, most of these are usually for just personal use. In other words, it’s fine to download free backing tracks if you just want to experiment with music or create work that will only be shared among family and friends, or even for a private presentation.
If, on the other hand, you want to create a professional demo or radio-ready song, whether it’s a cover of an original or to make your own song from scratch, or to be used in a live public performance, it’s best to purchase them from a reputable company that can provide you with a license (ask us if you have questions about this).
In addition, you need to read the fine print and ask questions to ensure you can use the instrumental track in the way you want to. For example, the license you receive may permit you (and only you) to use it for your intended purpose, prohibiting you from sharing it with any third party.
You also need to remember that when you purchase background music tracks for singers, you are only receiving permission to use the track; the original instrumentation remains the property of the creator/publishing company. They can also revoke your license to use it or take you to court if it is believed you violated the terms and conditions for use. Again, read and ask questions before purchasing, downloading, and using instrumental tracks.
So, whether you want to be shouting “Who let the dogs out” at the next karaoke meetup with friends, or interested in making some good music, you now know where to begin. If you liked this article, share with your friends on social media and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter, as well as subscribe to our YouTube channel.