So, you've finished your composition in Ableton, maybe you're releasing it or perhaps playing it live... Either way, it's a great and safe idea to archive your finished projects. Here's how.  
We all love writing music, right? The thrill of finishing something is satisfying on many levels. You’ve exported to WAV or MP3, uploaded to Soundcloud or sent to the client or label. The job’s done. You can sit and wait for the adulation. Well, nearly...

This article is a step-by-step guide on what to do with your finished projects in order to get them into a state where they can be archived.

There are 4 steps involved:
  1. Naming tracks
  2. Freezing instruments 
  3. Collecting files
  4. Backing up

If you’re anything like me, your track naming may not be the best. I like to work quickly and don’t always take the time to rename tracks from their unhelpful defaults. The first job is to go through and rename every track in the project to something useful.

Which track names would you rather return to in 6 months time?

Freezing a track is the process of turning that track into an audio track. I highly recommend this step for any tracks which use virtual instruments. It’s not out of the realms of possibility that, in 6 months or a year when you reopen your project, some of the virtual instruments within have been updated or no longer work due to a system update. Your perfectly programmed track is now gone. Luckily freezing tracks in Live is a piece of cake:
  1. Right-click on a MIDI track and select “Freeze Track”.
  2. Wait whilst live renders the audio.
  3. Right-click on the track again and select “Flatten”.

The last step will complete the transformation from virtual instrument to audio track. All insert effects are also rendered down. If you repeat this process for every MIDI track, you will end up with a project made entirely from audio tracks, which hugely reduces the possibility of compatibility problems with plug-ins further down the road.

The same bass track. At the top it is a MIDI track playing a virtual instrument. In the middle, it has been “frozen”, and at the bottom it has been “flattened” into an audio track.

This step will collect all the files used in your project into one place so you can archive the folder safe in the knowledge that everything you need to re-open that project is in one folder:

  1. Go to the file menu and select “Collect All and Save”.
  2. From the dialog box, select “Yes” to all options. You may not need them all, but it’s the safest way.
Live’s “Collect All and Save” function ensures that all audio and video files referenced by the project are copied into the project folder.

Live will copy any audio and video files it needs into the project folder and save the project so that it references only the files within that folder. Any references to audio files anywhere else on your hard drive are replaced.

The last step that remains is to backup your project folder. My personal method is simply to copy the project folder from my hard drive to an external backup drive. I have hard drives full of projects from the last 20 years. Some of them will never be opened again, but it’s good to know that they are there and available if the need ever arises.

Rory Dow is a musician, sound designer and writer. He spent 15 years as a freelance musician writing for television before side-stepping into music software production. The majority of his work is taken up as a trainer and sound designer for London-based software company FXpansion but he also likes to write music and articles and is a ... Read More


Hi, but what about cannels with sidechain compressors?

you have to record them, right?

Hi d,

I believe you're correct. Certain channels need recording rather than freezing due to dependance on an incoming signal. Any channel that uses External Effect or External Instrument device will be the same.


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