You may be stuck working remotely from your producer, mixer, songwriting partner or mastering engineer, but you can still be creative. We’ve compiled 5 tips to help you get the most out of online music collaborations.
Remotely contributing to a song’s production over the internet has been a routine form of collaboration for years. In today’s climate, it’s become a necessity for producers, engineers and musicians working from home. Luckily, there are some well-established workflows, techniques and applications that will help you make this process as seamless and creative as possible. These are applicable whether you’re a singer, songwriter, musician, producer, mix engineer or mastering engineer. We’ll walk you through 5 key tips.
1. Set the Right Goals for Effective Remote Collaboration
There are 3 main things to consider when nurturing fluid online collabs:
a. File Sharing
There are plenty of cloud-based storage providers, including Dropbox, Google Drive and WeTransfer, that make sharing audio stems and mixes a straightforward process. While these platforms either offer free transfers or limited-storage user accounts, we recommend considering some other platforms specifically designed with audio creative collaboration in mind. We'll suggest a few of these later in the article.
b. Project Management
You need to make sure everyone involved from remote locations has easy access to session files, audio stems and mixes. It is also vital to keep on top of people's tasks and responsibilities. Project management is a job in itself that demands attention and diplomacy, or you run the risk of missing deadlines or spending months working on a project that could have been turned around quickly.
Managing a successful online collaboration between parties also means you have to encourage clear and open lines of communication. Failure to do so may result in some collaborators feeling isolated or under-appreciated.
c. Creative Communication
All parties need to know what their briefs are and, ultimately, a project's end game. Session players should be given clear direction, producers need their vision understood, mix engineers require reference tracks from artists, songwriters need reassurance that their material is in safe hands. The list goes on. Sharing feedback between collaborators is also essential, and often gets lost in emails.
2. Choose the Right Tools for Online Collabs
Working within one simple, unified space is a great way for collaborators to keep organized. Bounce Boss is one such platform, being an all-in-one cloud-based audio file and project management system, specifically designed for online music collabs. It brings all three considerations discussed earlier into one interactive online space.
Sharing audio files (such as mixes for mastering or project stems for mixing) is a doddle in Bounce Boss. Mix engineers can publish fresh mixes to a private Bounce Boss project, which are free for collaborators to join. Producers and artists can then participate in the project by listening and relaying their opinions directly to the comments box or waveform timeline. This is particularly efficient when trying to convey mix notes back and forth about specific track moments.
It's not uncommon for a mix to go through several revisions. Keeping everyone up to speed with these changes is often challenging, especially when files and mix notes are pinging between several emails. Bounce Boss allows mix revisions to be added to projects and labeled automatically as different versions (for example V1, V2, V3). If differences in overall loudness between mix revisions are apparent, Bounce Boss will automatically apply level matching. This is an essential feature to allow a fair comparison of mixes.
The power of Bounce Boss isn't exclusive to mix engineers working with remote artists. Mastering engineers can also make excellent use of this application, as well as producers and songwriters building songs from scratch.
3. Stream High-Quality Audio in Real Time from your DAW
If you’re a client wanting to listen in to a mix in high quality from a remote location, then Listento by Audiomovers is a handy plugin to reach for. It enables artists to stream the output of a DAW to a web browser without needing to fiddle with any routing in the software or hardware domain.
Listento is also incredibly easy to setup. To get started, simply insert Listento as the last plugin in a session's master bus and forward the shareable weblink to your collaborators. You will need some form of external messaging or conference call service, such as Skype, to communicate between the studio broadcasting from Listento and the collaborators.
Typical applications for Listento include the following:
- Finalizing mixes between artists, producers and mix engineers
- Arranging songs with songwriting partners
- Working out parts in real time with session players
The audio quality on Listento is exceptional, with latency of around 1 second. Collaborators can also lower the resolution to improve stability if they struggle with poor internet. Not only can Listento put remote collaborators in the session from anywhere in the world in real time, it puts them in the mix position as well.
4. Screen-share Your Session Windows in Real Time
If you want to not only hear the song in real time as it’s being mixed, but also view mix and edit windows in a DAW while listening, Source-Live provides a powerful solution. Source-Live Pro offers all the tools to do this securely and at AAC/MP4 encoding and 24 Bit audio quality. Collaborators join by clicking a gateway link shared via email and entering via a web browser or the Source-Live Gateway iOS app.
5. Keep Songwriter Collaborations Well-Organized
We've covered several tools that help users collaborate in recording, mixing and mastering from remote locations. But what about songwriters working on fresh material with songwriting partners? A tool called Auddly provides a neat solution. It’s an online hub that helps songwriters manage key aspects of their material, such as important song splits between collaborators.
When verifying a songwriter account, enter the name of your song and assign yourself a role (producer, songwriter, or both). Next, invite your collaborators under the creator's section to get going. In the main window, you can upload audio files such as mixes, rough sketches or lyrics, and assign song splits. Many other details for getting the business side of your music sorted before publishing can also be classified here, such as crediting mix engineers and specifying labels.
With Auddly, songwriters have a tool for collecting critical data on their songs while also making sure their music is ready from a business perspective, so that secure, and accurate credits are in place for royalty payments.
Conclusion: Communication Is Key
Many audio professionals and musicians who rely heavily on online collaboration will agree that it isn't always the tools that make their collabs a success. Instead, it's their ability to communicate openly and creativity that helps see a project through to fruition.
Get tips on staying creative in the studio here.
Want to get more tips straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter here.