Unlocking your creativity: how to collaborate effectively when making music
Collaboration in music is hotter than ever right now. Whether you're into pop music or more underground styles you may have noted that albums and tracks seem to feature an increasing list of collaborators. If this wave of collaboration has inspired then your probably interested in getting out there and trying it yourself! Before you do, check out our tips for ensuring your collaboration is successful!
Don't be afraid to collaborate with people who play different styles
Some of the best music in history has come from unexpected collaborations. Think Aerosmith and Run-DMC, Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue, Nas and Damian Marley, amongst many others.
Collaborating with someone who usually makes a different style of music from yourself is a sure way to create something unique and original. As we discussed in a previous blog post, exposing yourself to different styles of music has the potential to unlock your creativity and open your mind.
Keep an open mind
Some ideas or work processes that someone may bring to a collaborative session might seem unusual to you at first. However, it is important to remind yourself of the reasons you have chosen to collaborate with someone. Whatever they are, it probably stems from wanting to add an extra dimension or something different to your music. As such, it is definitely not in your interest to automatically dismiss ideas someone else brings to the table that might be strange to you!
Collaboration isn’t going to work if you try to dominate the sessions or try to make your collaborators do only what you want them to do. Come to the session with an open mind, be prepared for the result to not sound exactly how you might have imagined, and you are sure to create something amazing.
The days where you had to be in the same room to collaborate are long gone. With the rise in software and technology to assist collaboration, you don’t even need to be in the same country to collaborate, let alone the same room. This is an amazing development for those who live in places that may not have thriving music scenes or options for collaboration.
Social media has allowed you to make contact with and befriend other musicians across the world. Online marketplaces such as SoundBetter and Tunedly mean that you can book the specific services you need. There is also software designed to make collaboration over the web as easy as possible such as Sessionwire and Source Elements. Here at Musiversal, our innovative shared recording sessions have also made remote collaboration cheaper and easier than ever. All of these options mean you can find the collaborators that suit your needs best.
Always communicate your ideas or any changes
The downside to collaborating with people on the other side of the world is that communication can be much more of an issue. Even with the countless video call and online messaging services available nothing quite compares to being in the same room as someone.
It is crucial then that you communicate throughout the process, always staying up to date with where you and your collaborators are at in the process. If someone does something you don’t approve of, let them know. If you make any changes to your work, make sure you run it by your collaborator.
Define your roles
Many communication issues can be prevented at the beginning of the process by clearly defining your roles. Will you each work on certain parts of a track? Or will you work together on all the components? Know what you can bring to the session and what you hope they will bring. Deciding these things before you start working together will ensure communication throughout the collaboration goes smoothly.
Of course, these roles do not have to be rigid throughout. For example, if you are a producer working with a singer, you can still be open to any suggestions from the singer about other parts of the track, even if it isn’t explicitly their role. As mentioned earlier, be flexible and keep an open mind!
Set goals and deadlines
What do you want to achieve from the session? What does your collaborator want to achieve? If one of you hopes to make a pop hit, while the other is going for an experimental underground tune, your collaboration probably isn’t going to work out. Make sure the people you work with have similar ideas to yourself in terms of what the want from the project.
Once you’ve defined your goals you can set your deadlines or decide whether you want to have any set in stone dates for parts to be completed. This may depend on what you hope to achieve from the collaboration. If the collaboration is for a particular project that has a release date then you’ll need to make sure the deadlines are strictly adhered to. But if you’re collaboration is more just about experimenting and testing out whether you work well together then hard deadlines aren’t as necessary.
Relax and have fun
There is little doubt that you do your best work when you are relaxed and enjoying yourself. Picking your collaborators based on how at ease and fun they are to work with is arguably much more important than any other factor. It matters little if your collaborator is a superstar producer who has worked with Kanye West if you don’t get along with them.
Remember that enjoying your work is likely one of the main reasons you got into music and the thing that keeps you motivated through the tougher times you’ll inevitably face in a music career.
Keen to collaborate? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how you can collaborate with us!