10 Ways Musicians Can Collaborate While Apart

Are you at home, self-isolating, or quarantining, wishing you could create music with other artists in a similar position? Or perhaps you’ve always wished to collaborate with someone on the other side of the world? Whether you want to record music with a band member, have a jam with a friend, find someone to collaborate with, or simply share some beats, check out these ten ways musicians can work together while apart.

1.  Want to record a song? Get acquainted with Apps

Before reaching out to any potential collaborator, it pays off to be familiar with the process of recording at home. Digital Audio workstations like Audacity, GarageBand, and Ableton Live 10 are available for this purpose and make recording music with others a breeze. As well as creating records - you can mix and share tracks with other artists.

With Ableton Live 10, there is a 90-day free trial, which allows you to get accustomed to the software. If you encounter any challenge, Ableton Live 10 even offers tutorials made by well-known artists, with concise instructions that are easy to follow. For other DAW like Audacity, there are a ton of tutorials available through their website or on YouTube to guide you.

2.  Social Media is Your Friend

Want to find someone to make music with or share your songs? Social media is a great medium to discover musicians with whom you might like to work on a project together. You can access their music via their websites, sound cloud accounts, or Facebook pages in just one click. Social media is an excellent tool in initiating the first contact with a potential collaborator.

3.   Email

After the interest in collaboration has been established by using social media, the next step is to clarify the project's goals and partnership terms. All collaborators should have an equal understanding of all matters related to the rights, ownership, and partnerships involved in the project.

4.  Choose a Music Production System

There's a variety of Digital Audio Workstations available (Audacity, Ableton, GarageBand, or Pro Tools). The iOS app, SoundStorming, also allows you to record audios one minute at a time. This can be published on your profile and allows collaboration with other artists in the SoundStorming community.

Other users of the SoundStorming app can take your published recordings and build upon it for their use. If you do not want others to have access to your files, it is easy; all you have to do is set your profile to private and share the links with your collaborators only.

5.   BandLab

This recording software is great for musicians who want to collaborate. It comes with a library of effects, plugins, and sounds from different genres, including city pop, hip hop, ambient, and others.

Using BandLab, you can learn to perform tasks like drumming, which is great if you just have a singer or guitar player but want the effect of a full band.

Note: If you are using a real drum kit to collaborate or record music, the sound can often overpower vocals. In this instance, most musicians recommended the use of a drum shield to curb this effect.

6. Newzik

Newzik is a professional app that lets you organize your sheet music and access it from any device. Its powerful features give you all the tools you need to work on your parts, rehearse efficiently, and perform on stage with confidence.

But what's truly unique about Newzik is its cloud-based system that allows you to share markings and parts in real-time with other users. Whether you’re the first violin in your orchestra and need to share your bowings with your colleagues, a teacher working with students, or a rock band exchanging ideas for your next album, Newzik’s collaborative features are here to help you make the whole process easier and faster. It’s as simple as that: in a few clicks, your student will receive your parts and your markings.

Using an app such as Newzik also means working on enhanced parts. If you are a teacher, you can send audio files to your students and they will be able to add these audio files directly to their digital sheet music to play along and to practice more efficiently.

Newzik is available on all iOS devices and soon on any web browser. You can download it for free on the App Store and try it out! You will find all the information you need on their product page.  

7.  Share Files

You and your collaborators need to agree on the use of file-hosting services to send files back and forth. Sessions and audio clips are extensive, and email wouldn’t suffice for this purpose.

A lot of musicians use a service like Dropbox or Google drive. Each of the services has its drawback and requires some familiarity. Splice Studio is another Cloud-based music collaboration software. It allows you to upload unlimited Ableton, Logic, or FL studio sessions into the cloud and add collaborators for free.

8.  Messaging Apps

While messaging apps like Tonara, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype can make an unsuitable platform for simultaneous performances, they are excellent for communication among artists.

Some artists have been public about the role of messaging apps in both the initial and production phase of musical collaborations. You can use messaging apps to record a live song, share a tune, exchange ideas, and get feedback on recordings by simply turning on your microphone.

9.  Listen and Discuss

It’s best to utilize messaging apps by making a plan before you begin recording or collaborating. We have to emphasize the need to listen and discuss plans, directions, beats, lyrics, and potentially even contracts before you begin recording songs.

If you are working with more than two or three collaborators, and expect timely delivery from each collaborator, then proper communication will be essential. You should listen to recordings and discuss elements of the music you want to modify and how it affects the overall project.

With so many user-friendly tools online, you can easily teach music to a collaborator or show an artist how to play a new musical instrument during your sessions.

10. Build a Connection

Building a connection with your collaborators can be done by sharing audios, photos, and videos of what you are doing. Sometimes it can be a snapshot of where you are working and the things going on around you.

These little connection builders help strengthen your relationship with the other collaborators. This fosters new working relationships that motivate each other’s craft and inspire each other’s journey. Besides, great working partners help improve the outcome of any project.

11. Encourage Each Other

Working alone has its challenges and perks, like working undisturbed or distracted. However, with the new norm that came with 2020 and every industry turning to remote work, getting distracted or demotivated to complete a project has become an emerging issue.

Another thing that can easily creep in during this time is self-doubt. Music collaborations are a great way to find inspiration from the other artist and motivate them in return. Music projects are so rewarding but they can also be tedious and can change directions at any time; artists and musicians in collaboration must keep an open communication line and learn to check in on each other outside the recording studio.