The invention of Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) has reshaped the process of music creation today – but are we missing out on something?
Step back to a time before Ableton, Logic, or even laptop computers, when making a record relied on a team effort. Producers, engineers and artists would sweat it out in a studio, throwing ideas around and vibing off each other.
Whether you produce entirely ‘in-the-box’ from your bedroom or use outboard gear in a pro studio, there’s a huge benefit to sharing your work process with others.
WHO SHOULD YOU COLLABORATE WITH?
Choosing your collaborators is the most important step. Here are a few factors to consider:
- Shared Goals. Are you looking to produce music as a hobby or full-time? Are you planning to release your recordings? What type of song(s) will you write? These questions are best discussed in the beginning of the collaborative process.
- Complementary Skills. Look for people who know how to do things that you don’t. There’s no need for two side-chain specialists.
- Diversity in Taste. Remember the idea is to expand and add depth to your productions. Avoid doubling up on the same ideas.
- Chemistry. Do you vibe with one another? Do you get along? It may sound funny, but chemistry in music production is vital for good music.
- Expand. Widen your circle of collaborators. Bring in live musicians, vocalists and DJs to work alongside your fellow producers.
Case in point: this unexpected collaboration between Skrillex and The Doors is a great example of wildly different artists creating a song they could not produce on their own.
You might not live next to The Doors, but if you have friends who make music, then that’s a great place to start. Otherwise you can find fellow music makers on sites like Meetup.com, or head to a music production event like our very own BeatCamp.
HOW TO COLLABORATE ON PRODUCTION
For those in different locations there are some great digital tools for collaborating online, such as Ohm Studio and Gobbler. There are also traditional file sharing services like Dropbox, SoundCloud and Google Drive.
Despite the incredible advances with digital collaboration tools, we highly recommend working with people face-to-face. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and get together with new collaborators.
Here are four Olympics-inspired collaboration techniques to give your creativity a boost:
This is an ideal strategy if you both use different DAWs. One producer is the main driver at the computer, while the other focuses on ideas, creative direction and playing synths, controllers and instruments. If you’re technically inclined, it’s a bit like pairs programming.
Each producer has complete individual control of the workstation for 15 minutes or a time frame of your choosing. When that time has elapsed you swap seats. An egg timer is highly recommended!
Start with breaking down some individual tasks between you and your collaborators, such as creating drum loops, samples and melodies. Work on these parts separately, but then bring them all together on one machine to arrange and mixdown together – this can be great if you have distinct strengths.
Probably the most old-school method of them all – and one of the most fun! Plug your entire kit into one audio interface or mixing desk, hit record and jam away together. At the end of your session, sit down together to edit and mix the best parts.
There is no doubt that collaboration can be a challenge, but it’s also a surefire way to get completely new results and elevate your skills to a new level. Plus, it’s a great way to get inside someone else’s workflow and help you reach a state of peak creative flow, full of spontaneous ideas that propel you to perform at your best.
ABOUT BEATCAMP AND THE AUTHORS
Founded by Marc Langsman & Andrew Consoli, BeatCamp is a creative workshop that helps producers escape from their home studios to collaborate, get fresh inspiration and write a track in just one day.
The next event takes place on the 22nd November 2014 in London, UK.
Marc has been producing electronic music and DJ’ing for over fifteen years. He has remixes and releases as Lazrjet on Universal/Decca Records and 9th Floor Recordings. Marc has DJ’ed with Ministry of Sound and Cream, at Sunrise Festival, and won the Scottish finals of the Vestax DJ Competition and placed second in the UK.
Since 1998, Andrew has been DJ’ing throughout Europe and has released music on Funky Fruit, Dominium Recordings and Stoney Boy Music. Andrew is also one of the world’s leading sample pack producers, with releases topping the charts on Beatport Sounds and Loopmasters. His radio show, Around the Club, is broadcasted by more than 40 stations worldwide.
All photos courtesy of BeatCamp and shot at BeatCamp in London, UK.