Let’s talk about Music Collaborations

So, you are working on your music career and goals and read/hear you need to do a collaboration to:

  • Expand your reach into new audiences
  • Get out of your comfort zone and work on new music with someone else
  • Get access to resources you don’t currently have All good reasons.

You are pumped up ready to work with other people, what do you do? Obvious, right? Look for other people who want to do collaborations. You start searching groups on social platforms where other musicians are looking for collabs, you put out Craigslist posts, you tweet, you make phone calls, send emails, go to clubs where live music is playing, go to networking events. There are so many avenues to find collabs, you think this is going to be easy.

At this point I ask you to answer this question: do you have a fair expectation of what a collab will mean to the people you are reaching out to? Do you really know what you want out of a collab? Are you just going on “feel” or are you going at it with a “purpose”? This is important, which one you choose will depend on the results you really want out of a collab. You will soon find, what you want and expect isn’t what other people expect when they hear “collab”.

The definition of collaboration is: The action of working with someone to produce or create something.

OXFord Dictionaries

Let’s start with the first question, are you wanting to be the producer/artist or just an artist? This is huge, most people don’t have the ability to produce; they don’t have the gear, instruments, mixing experience, worflows for sharing files, etc. That leaves most people in the musician/songwriter/vocalist side of collabs. Then, the next question is how many of these musicians/songwriters/vocalists can record professional quality work? See where I’m going with this? The sooner you can define what type of collaboration you want to do, the easier it is to weed out collabs that won’t work for you.

Now, let’s say you get someone who is interested in doing a collaboration, what type of collaboration will it be? Is the work you’re doing for Splits, Work For Hire or just networking? If the collaboration is for Splits, make sure your act is together and you have split sheets ready from the moment you start. If the collab is a Work For Hire (WFH), meaning the other person is getting paid to put in their artist work, have a contract and compensation ready to go. You may ask how a Work For Hire is a collab but I believe WFHs can be collaborative. If you need a drummer to put down some percussion tracks, they could add a lot of value to the production with just your guidance. Give them flexibility and direction, you could end up with some really good material.

The reality of collaborations is many will never get further than you responding to a post that says “send me an email if you want to collaborate”. I’ve had success finding people on line, but it’s not the norm. In my experience, most people who say they want to collaborate don’t really mean it or have no idea how collaborations work.

When I find someone who wants to do a collaboration, I try to get an email address or phone number immediately. Then I send a comprehensive email outlining my reel, links to relevant work, acknowledge I am open for splits and the distribution process. I find getting all the details to the other person is more likely to generate a collaboration worth doing because the other party knows what you are about.

That all said, there is so much more that could be said about collaborations. I may tackle the issue in more detail later but I wanted you to get a different perspective.

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