Collaboration in music is when people work together and share their skills to work on a project. From my experience, this way of working is extremely beneficial because you can share creative ideas, wider skills, and networks.
When working on projects myself, I always like to think of my clients as collaborative partners. As a TV and film composer there are often times where I spend extended periods working on scores in my studio alone, and having the mindset that I’m working collaboratively keeps me objectively focused.
I love to give as much value to my clients beyond composing. Working in collaboration means that I can learn from other people’s experience and I can help them.
Collaborations help with creativity, missing skillsets, and you more than double the promotional reach you would have working alone. You can also share the workloads, equipment, and studio space.
Everyone has something different to offer, and by collaborating with others you’re opening the doors to more opportunities.
Whatever the reason you choose to collaborate, you should always remain goal focused, and just as importantly you should all add value and enjoy working together.
You will also get the best results from collaborations when you work symbiotically, have clear roles, define your goals, and agree timescales.
In this article I share some of the ways that I have collaborated, and how to build long lasting relationships.
Set mutual goals
The most effective and enjoyable collaborations come by working with people that have similar goals to you. Having a mutual objective makes it easier to work together and ensures the success of the project. You’ll be able to use these goals to drive the project and maintain motivation.
Avoiding different goals for a project; otherwise you’ll end up working towards different objectives and not succeeding.
From experience having different reasons for collaborating doesn’t mean you can’t ever work together in the future, so maintain relationships as other projects will come along that will be better suited.
Complement each other
Assess what your weaknesses are and find someone who had strengths that make up for it, or vice versa, and find someone that you can help. Music collaboration is most effective when one person’s skills complement the other.
Producers often look to collaborate with artists because they need someone to perform and write musical elements.
I’ve found it essential that everyone involved understands (and agrees) what they’re contributing, and responsibilities are shared as equally as possible.
Often you will find that people are good at multiple things. However, it may be better to have them focus on a fewer tasks and spread the workload amongst the whole team. If the work isn’t spread across the group the project goals can become overwhelming, and this can cause friction in the team.
Building a dream team
A composer, producer, artist or engineer will need reliable people around to provide support on projects as they become more successful in their career.
Good working relationship take time for formulate, getting to know one another, how you work, and what you can contribute will ensure that you’re known for specific roles. Of course, being reliable and adding value goes without saying.
The whole point of collaborating and working as a team is that you can bounce ideas off of each other, and work together.
I compose music for TV and film and I often require musicians and vocalists to provide support on projects. However, the people that I often work with don’t just come to the studio and play the notes perfectly, they also share creative ideas.
I also have expectations that they turn up prepared, on time, and understand what the goals of the project are.
To get the most out of people you work with you have to make them aware of what your project is and what the client is expecting.
Expand your creativity
I love partnering with other musicians as they have a different music style to mine, and they interpret the emotional narrative of a scene differently to me.
I’ve found that collaborations break me from my own stylistic comfort zone and expands my sonic palettes.
Sharing experience & skills
Sharing your experience and skills help in multiple ways. Sharing and open communication helps collaborative partners understand things from the others prospective, which is the foundation to long lasting relationships.
Regardless of the project, collaborating with people will always be a valuable learning experience and you will also benefit from other people.
Through collaborations, you will learn new song writing techniques, production skills, and marketing / promotional ideas that will help to take you to the next level of your career.
Build your network
Word of mouth remains one of the most powerful methods to further your reputation and career.
I’ve found that business success often comes from the people in my network. I have always found that the more personal relationships I build and maintain, the more potential opportunities present themselves.
With this in mind, make sure that you value and respect each collaborator regardless of your project success.
How to find musicians to collaborate with
There is an almost endless number of ways to find people to collaborate with.
Music Gateway is a community of thousands of people where you can post a project to find the perfect person to collaborate with.
Facebook has a vast variety of groups that you can join. Just be mindful that some groups have rules about messaging the group and you can’t just message everyone offering services. I have found that asking for specific things that I need get the best responses and isn’t regarded as spammy type messages.
Networking events give you opportunities meet people that you could collaborate with, and also helps you find people that could make introductions to people in their network.
Some of the best projects and introductions for me have come from networking events. Don’t turn up to a networking event looking to sell. Instead spend more time finding out about their business and you can help them.
If you find out about their business and the introductions to people or companies they want, you can help them to win business and they will always want to help you.
Introductions / referrals come with a recommendation which means the person who you want to speak to is expecting you call, is in the market for your services, and I’ve found it converts better.