How do you make collabs work?

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How do you make collabs work?

Postby HMage » 12 Dec 2013 18:05

At least two times people approached me "hey let's make a collab! let's make a dropbox and have an ableton project in it! we take turns and edit it and see what's the final result!"

We do that, for a few days, then we both slow down and eventually just kinda stop opening it at all.

Anyone would like to share experiences of successful collabs?
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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby Magnitude Zero » 12 Dec 2013 19:03

I would say to try and have a plan. Instead of saying "hey let's do some sort of collab somehow", be able to say "hey, can you give me guitar/piano/vocals/strings/glitching/whatever at this point in the track?" Have a good idea of what your partner is good at, and be able to give each other specific ideas about what you think your partner should do. Otherwise, it'll just be a collab for the sake of a collab and it'll end up feeling rather forced.
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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby Captain Ironhelm » 12 Dec 2013 19:47

before starting, designate the different parts of the track to each person and set deadlines for each step. ( For example one person writes out MIDIs, the other chooses sounds, someone arranges, someone adds effects, etc.) Critique and improvement on what has already been made can also be given along the way.

I don't see how a group project without any direction could go anywhere.
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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby ClaviSound » 12 Dec 2013 20:20

When you want to collab, start with a clear idea on where you want to go, and get it done as quickly as you can. If you let the project stall, it's almost impossible to get any kind of momentum back into it.

The three collaborations I'm in that are finished and published were done in one session of writing and one or two sessions of recording. In one case, the fellow collaborator (Freewave) was already done with his bit, so I only really had to throw together a verse or two. In the second, I wrote a verse on an easy-to-get beat, found out another rapper wanted to write over the same beat but never got around to it, and we completed the "collab" within a few hours. Third time, the guy who asked me was already done; I wrote and recorded something quick and sent it to him, and forgot about it until he published it. (To be fair though, he pulled two other rappers on it, so props to him for managing to get them to work quickly.)

Now, as for those collabs that didn't pan out, they were usually "why not" collabs, or large multi-way collaborations, that didn't have a date of completion set in stone. It's true; without a deadline, there's really no pressure to work on something, and while people may say they "want to do it," sometimes that's not enough to motivate someone to be anything more than passive about it.

Sometimes you get lucky and people work quickly, but people have lives (and other music). Magnitude Zero is right in saying that projects that kick off by someone asking "we should do a collab" don't usually end up anywhere. I myself wanted to make a song with Freewave at some point but I didn't actually do it until he approached me with an instrumental and we had a clear consensus on where it was going to go.

It's a lot easier to finish a collaboration if you have a project that's already in progress with a gap that you need to fill, and ask someone else specifically to fill that gap, rather than just say "hey we should do a thing" and throw ideas back and forth on what would mix each of the person's skills well.
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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby CitricAcid » 12 Dec 2013 20:54

I am very interested in this thread. Collaborating is something that I want to try in the future. I'd love to see how well dubstep (or something) and orchestra can go together in a collab.

But even though I have never done it myself, I can already agree that having some material already on the table is key to getting it done. I have had a number of people approach me wanting music for their film/animation/whatever, but they're still in the script-writing crew-gathering phase. I always give a noncommittal "maybe" or "call me later" and proceed to watch nothing ever become of the project.

On a related note, how do you go about collaborating across genres? What if you have different DAWs (I see eery mentioned stems, but I'd like more detail on the process)?
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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby Freewave » 12 Dec 2013 22:53

Collabs can be difficult to do or they can be incredibly smooth, it depends on what needs to get done, the deadline (as people have said), and the relationship involved. And the Rainfall and i have collabed twice, the first time it was mostly my song which i had a WIP together and he added some drum patterns and some electric guitar parts he recorded. i glitched the guitar and we had the whole thing done in a week or two. Wasn't perfect but it was kind of punk/noise rock track so it was ok to be a little messy. The next collab we started from scratch and we each took short turns on. He eventually took majority control as he had a better idea of what he wanted (and skill to pull it off) and i could barely get my older pc to handle the massive project. It was just a beast buy the end. That project took nearly half a year to complete. His collab incidentally with Sgap took the majority of the year (Rarity) and it only got published because eventually ATR took full control and used what they had done already in pervious months. Before then there was a lot of disagreements on what each other liked and it came to a standstill sadly.

It is REALLY hard to share projects even if you have the same DAW as a lot of the times the vst wont load and get the same sound as your partner which can be real tough. you can always render to wav to get past this but then you cant adjust that track easily again. Thats pretty much a HAVE TO if you use different daws. Sharing wavs can def be a pain but yes dropbox makes it a bit easier.

The best collabs are when 2 people can offer diverse things that the other might not be able to deliver. So When i needed a vocalist i got Donglekumquat, Dreamsong, Sylver, or Evdog to do a better job then i can. When i needed sax i talked to Saxbrony or when a rap i got Clavi. It's essential that you can split the parts because when you both try to do the same area of work (like with 2 edm artists doing an edm track you will often step on each other toes (and someone will take the majority control) or you will likely have DAW technical issues between the 2. By all means if you are close to the person you are collabing with it helps make sure it gets done as the busier the musician or the weaker the relationship, the harder it is that it will actually come to fruition. I've gotten some people involved who agreed to work on things only to not deliver and in some cases take a few weeks to let me know they weren't actually interested. So its important to know if the other person is as passionate about the song as you or not. Also make sure the other musician is fine with the mix as that's the other person who you have to listen to the wip and ultimately the person who should be equally happy with the track. It is smart to also have it planned out who's releasing the track as even if its equal effort it cant be on the same youtube. Hope this help gives some ideas of the hurdles (and fun) ahead. Definitely collab with people who can do what you can't as its a great way to learn and most importantly make friendships.
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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby Injustrial » 12 Dec 2013 23:46

I've only had one collab done, which I've posted in the feedback thread. It was a good experience for me, getting to break out of what I usually do and try something different.

However, it probably doesn't qualify as a collab. I was given three different guitar stems, and three rap verses and told to make something. The rest of the song was my own. This worked out very smoothly for me, since nothing was added by other people after I started working (We're still missing a vocal part, and the finished vocal arrangement, but that's it)

I'm part of a rather big collab involving 4 different people right now, and not much is happening. I've been tinkering around a bit with it, but since this is supposed to be a proper collab, I feel I shouldn't take over too much of it. The other people are supposed to shine properly in that one.

I think a deadline and a clear plan is key to doing successful collabs, as well as thinking realistically. Making a schedule for yourself and sticking to it would be good, since if you're late with your parts, you're probably pushing the other person back as well.

Here's the collab I did as a reference. Since I had so much wiggleroom, it was very easy for me to make an instrumental, but I guess the more the other person adds, the harder it will be for you to fit your stuff in.
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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby senntenial » 19 Dec 2013 01:03

If you wanna get something done, set a deadline. If you want it to be well executed and heartfelt, don't set a deadline and let it die. Or at least that's my wisdom. Of the hundreds of WIP files I currently posses, I've only finished a few. Same could go for collabs.
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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby CarbonMaestro » 19 Dec 2013 17:08

Whenever I want to collab with a vocalist, I do the following:

1. Skype with them. Make friends! No one likes collaborating with a total stranger. Be sure to have something interesting to talk about like the style of your own music and what you're going for when you collab.
2. Have a basic instrumental (Doesn't have to be complete) along with sheet music. Make sure your vocal part has sheet music. Vocalists love sheet music.
3. Set a comfortable deadline.

A deadline is something I set anywhere between 1 to 3 months.

Also, be sure to set yourself proper deadlines and once you say something, try not to deviate from what you said earlier.

And I've done quite a few collabs before.
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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby Stu Beef » 19 Dec 2013 20:38

Based on my own success (and lots of failure). I crib a lot of this stuff from more formal settings. I've done a few things off o the net with some people (mostly just one...) and it seems to me using a more formal model can help the unguided amateur a lot.

ESSENTIALS:

Decide on a clear vision, or be willing to keep an open mind. The fluidity of a true collaboration (rather than just getting a dude on a session for you, essentially reducing their role to an instrument) means that these can both exist simultaneously, but it's up to the artists to really decide what the deal is. This basically means that, like in any relationship, proper communication is key. The attitude of the relationship should be set early so that each person knows their roles and has an idea of what the end goal is. Deadlines are good for forcing yourself to keep on track, but it shouldn't be necessary if all parties involved are passionate about the project. Passion itself is not necessary for a successful collab per se, but it is one of those invaluable things that can push your work from good to great (or at least, from bad to "well, it's got some heart"). There are a million different team dynamics that are actually probably codified and have their own different guidelines, so you're just doing yourself a huge favor if you decide how things are gonna play out ahead of time.


Always be professional, even if its just a fun thing with your friends. It helps with the whole clarity thing: if you're clear with each other you will have a more cohesive end product. Having the weight of an unfinished project sag on you can be really draining emotionally, physically, and creatively. No matter what else you're doing, it's always on the back of your mind that "oh hey shit, I gotta do this thing." It should really never come down to feeling like you HAVE to be doing this, but there's always those times when you're working on something really tedious and unfun. That's sort of just something you have to deal with; no matter what you push through and keep working. This is where the clear vision helps: what are we working towards, who's pushing the project, what can we get done right now? There's always a problem to solve in these kinda projects: mix wise, writing wise, what have you. It's important to be proactive and not to allow anything to get too abstract. There should always be something concrete to work on.


Sort of contradictory is that you should never make it feel like work. I take a kind of pride in my personal ethic of excellence for excellence's sake, and often describe doing something well as "doing my job". That's on one end of a psychological spectrum, and it really does work for me, but I never forget that I'm doing this because I want to. Really this applies in all settings: we're just programmed to be lazy and stupid and only do things because they feel good. You should be smart enough to at least trick yourself into doing some stupid thing because it's kinda fun. This also ties back in to the clear vision. It feels good to actually work towards something; when you're just sort of aimlessly hacking away at a specific part of a project it feels tedious and unrewarding. Passion also helps here. Get really fired up about getting to that end product, but have a laugh and enjoy what you're making. It's not like this can be totally avoided, but it's always a bitch to work towards something you don't really feel that good about. You can either feel crushed by this, or you can try and find little ways to subvert the situation and add yourself into the project, so you can hold on to whatever sliver of humanity you have while grinding away at whatever.


Nice to have:

If you're already on good terms. This can be good or bad because you might feel like you can be a little more casual and a little more immature. Hopefully, if you're working with your friends, it's because you respect each other and really wanna make something cool together.

Time.

A spectrum of skills between you. As someone else said: X is good at A and Y is good at B so XY can make AB which they wouldn't have been able to do alone.

A reference to work towards. Chances are both of you suck so just try to copy something better.

Hearts as strong as horses.

Anticipation or feedback from a third-party can be nice. Hopefully you two respect each other and are honest enough with each other that the dialogue between yourselves is enough to fire you up, but having an unbiased ear is always good.

I'll think of more stuff later maybe.


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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby HMage » 21 Dec 2013 07:55

Thanks, appreciated. Anyone willing to share experiences of successful collabs? In simple way like "I was more doing X, he was more doing Y, then he started sending me new piano parts every day"
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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby CaptainFluffatun » 21 Dec 2013 12:37

Well one way I made a collab NOT work was not being open to new ideas. I had a certain vision for the song, and eventually the other party just kinda let me have it. So yeah, remember that it's both of your guys' song.
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Re: How do you make collabs work?

Postby CaptainFluffatun » 18 Jan 2014 19:49

Deleted all trace of yesterday.
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