Because of the pandemic, multiple security reasons, improved technology, and many other factors, remote collaboration with creatives (producers, other musicians, etc.) has grown so popular that local production isn’t always the primary go-to.
So how do you convert from local production to remote collaboration these days if you’re not used to it? We’ve got you covered in this extensive guide. Let’s dive into both, so you know what to expect and how to get the best record possible. We’ll even give you some examples.
The Earliest Remote Collaborations
Some of the earliest collaborations made famous today by artists were done remotely involved bands in the 1990s. So it’s no surprise that there were other ways to collaborate remotely (such as satellite feeds, etc.) in the early days.
One such recording was P. Diddy and Jimmy Page’s collaboration for the song “Come with Me,” where both artists collaborated through satellite feeds and performed tracks separately, mixing them.
Other artists have made most of their music remotely – Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service group. The Postal Service even got its name for its remote collaboration method by sending individual tracks to each other through snail mail.
These days, electronic methods and technology have made things easier to share in real time (more on that below).
Local Sessions: The Good & Bad
Some artists have preferences to record with analog equipment and go to local studio sessions rather than collaborating remotely or digitally. We understand this as creatives.
Here are some pros and cons of using local session recordings:
- You don’t have to worry about the acoustics – many session studios already have soundproofing, pop filters, etc., in place.
- Many professional studios have the highest quality software and gear available at your fingertips.
- Your engineer is feet away for closer communication.
- You can focus on creativity while not worrying about the technical side of things.
- Sessions are on a deadline according to your expenses, and time is of the essence.
- Session recording can add much more to the costs due to traveling, rehearsal spaces, and additional charges (mastering, mixing, multiple takes, etc.).
- While it may be some of the highest quality, the gear isn’t your own. Also, remember that you don’t have the same flexibility as you would have with all of your remote sessions (using only your gear, software, etc.)
- With flexibility, you also don’t have as much control over your sound as you do (without paying the extra price).
Why Remote is the Go-To Today
In the old days, as mentioned, remote collaboration required a large quantity of technicality, wait time, and more. However, thanks to technological advancements, remote music production has become a gold standard for getting a high-quality recording recorded, produced, mixed, and even mastered. Need additional background vocals or musicians? You can even do that by going remote. These days, there are many benefits to musicians, both unsigned to major label artists.
- You can cut much time by remotely collaborating live.
- Connect anywhere. If you’re touring or far away from your studio, this is a great way to save on traveling.
- The overall cost is cheaper in the long run.
- You have ultimate flexibility and control by using your gear (if you have it). Many DAW applications have ways to give you many studio-quality effects.
- Communication can be in real-time, which was hard to do decades ago.
- You can have the world at your fingertips.
- Collaboration is much easier and more user-friendly.
- Session times are much cheaper than in-studio sessions.
- It’s more challenging collaborating in real time.
- You may not have the top of line professional recording gear in your home studio.
- It can take longer to get the same high-quality recording that you’d get at a professional studio (but for many musicians, it is still worth the cost savings).
As you can see, both have their advantages and disadvantages. However, technological advances are constantly making their way into the music industry.
The Essentials of Remote Music Collaboration
Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Some things are considered the essentials of remotely connecting and producing music. We’ll talk about them in this next section. Of course, this will be very detailed – but we assure you it’s for your benefit. You must know some basics to make your transition to remote collaboration from the in-studio world easier.
We can’t thank technology and the world of the internet enough for making things easier. Whether you’re using a Mac (considered the best for music production) or a Windows (still at the top of its game if you have the right software & hardware) PC, everyone involved in making a hit record can benefit from remotely connecting. From session singers to the primary artist, one of the main things you’ll need is a high-speed internet connection.
Connecting with the Creatives
You may wonder how easy it is to collaborate musically if you’re used to a local analog world. However, you may want to consider remote collaboration with us instead for the best productivity.
Using various digital communication platforms and methods helps increase time efficiency and productivity. Some people want that “airy” or “buzz” from their amps or mics – and we understand that. Computers have made it a lot easier to obtain this, though, by using digital replications of these sounds and making them available at the click of a mouse.
Even guitar amplifiers and effects applications can make a recording give you that live sound you’re looking for. Don’t have a drummer? With realistic plugins, you don’t need that anymore, either. It can all be done digitally – you can listen to it, and other recordings with everyone connected remotely.
When doing a studio meeting, you can listen to everything as if you were there. If there’s something that you don’t like, you have the right to voice your opinion and make suggestions as needed politely. With our musicians’ expertise, we can also aid by giving you pointers and sharing advice so you can make your record a hit song.
Record, Share, Repeat
There are many methods of sharing music when collaborating remotely. Once a track is recorded, it is shared with everyone involved in the process. If you, as the artist, like it, then the project moves forward. If you’re recording and submitting tracks, the same method applies. In a nutshell, all you have to do is the following:
- Record the track or tracks.
- Save it to the appropriate format.
- Submit or upload the track to a sharing platform for the studio to download for mixing.
- Repeat steps 1-3 as needed.
Some software tools can allow you to share files and even record them in real time, so anyone involved with the same DAW can automatically have a copy (more on that below).
Suppose you’re recording multiple tracks and creating a mix of your own (for example, layered guitar tracks, vocal tracks, etc.). In that case, you may want to consider sending the full mix of the tracks (without effects), as our information page explains.
You may, however, share the entire software project file with any included bare tracks. Then, a music producer can add it to the mix and apply anything you need (i.e., AutoTune, effects, processing, etc.) so you don’t have to. Just keep in mind that it may add to the time it takes for the project to be complete.
Sharing & Communication Platforms to Consider
There are various sharing and communication platforms and tools to make it easy for you to convert to remote collaboration. Here are just some of the available tools.
1. DropBox Replay
While video creators initially used it, DropBox Replay is a great tool for audio sharing and collaboration.
You can upload and download audio and video using DropBox or play the file online without downloading it. Your information is stored securely in the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about it being leaked or bootlegged.
Zoom is much more than just an office communication tool. With virtual meetings and recording sessions in real-time, you can collaborate with other artists, studios, musicians, etc. And since 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom has even aided in producing some of the century’s biggest hits. Look at the song “You Will Be Found” for the movie and Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen.
3. Audio Movers
Audio Movers has a plugin called ListenTo that enables real-time collaboration with other artists. While it is a standalone program, it can also be used as a plugin that creates a direct link to your DAW and vice versa. Install the transmitter and receiver on each end (you and others), share the link, and anyone can connect and listen live. You can even broadcast your audio in an AAC format of 320kbps (the highest-quality streaming audio format equivalent to studio-quality recordings). Even better, it’s a very affordable cloud-based plugin/software. For less than $10 a month, you can connect with 10 other users at once. Or you can pay just under $17/mo and connect with up to 150 different people simultaneously.
4. Other Methods
Of course, if you don’t have the budget, we understand that too! Suppose you have even a basic home studio set-up or can want to record tracks to convert to a digital format and send us. In that case, you can always upload them to DropBox. You can also speak with us on the phone or on other communication platforms.
Now is when you’re ready to record your next hit and want to try jumping into the new century of music production!