5 tips to help develop fruitful music collaborations
1). Record yourself: If you’re a musician or a singer, you will almost certainly have a "style" all of your own. Your preferred tempo, your pitch, your technique and your playing approach will all contribute to your signature style. When looking for other musicians to work with, it’s good to let them hear what you do. Give them a taste of your flavour by making a recording of yourself and letting people hear it.
If you’ve been making music for some time, you’ve almost certainly got plenty of recordings you’ve already made. That doesn’t matter. It’s worthwhile making a new recording to capture your style as it sounds today. Just sit and play your best stuff. Afterwards, listen back to yourself and think about what would compliment you. Finding other musicians is about knowing yourself and understanding what you sound like. Think about what other musicians hear when they listen to your recordings.
2). Establish your ambitions: On the more practical side of things, it’s a good idea to know what you want from a musical collaboration. Do you want to play live gigs? Do you want to share the songwriting credits, or are you better when you write alone? Are you a “front-man” or “band-member”? All these questions will help establish the sort of musician you are looking for, and make the path to successful collaboration a smooth one.
3). Try collaborating at a distance: Nothing can quite match the feeling of making music with others in the same room, jamming and creating in the same spontaneous moment. But there are other ways. With the web, collaboration can take place over large distances. If you’re looking for a musician to play with, they needn’t live around the next block. I know a very talented, hands-on keyboardist who is currently enjoying a fertile collaboration with an electronic musician via email and Dropbox. They live miles apart, so if they are working on a track they simply pass it back and forth between them, each one adding a bit more each time. It works because it’s a pure exchange of music without egos getting in the way.
The other exciting thing about collaborating at a distance is that people from very diverse musical backgrounds can get together. What would your music sound like with a musician from Japan, Brazil, South Africa or Mexico playing with you?
4). Post you details: It goes without saying that the web is great place to make new contacts. You've probably searched through listings pages for adverts posted by other musicians, but why not post an avert yourself? There are plenty of free listings pages or forums where you can start talking about yourself and attracting attention. Here at Verse-Chorus, you can post an advert for free.
5). Don’t be afraid to try something new: To create new music is a leap into the unknown. Of course you’ve got to practice and hone your technique, but just as crucial in the mix is experimentation. It’s only by trying out new things that originality can prosper. So when looking for other musicians to work with, don’t be afraid to try new avenues. Be open to chance meetings, unusual collaborations, less traditional instrument combinations, that sort of thing. We've already mentioned the idea of collaborating with musicians from around the world. Alternatively you could try working with musicians from a musical background that is different to yours. Could you collaborate with a folk singer, or a punk musician, or someone into electronica? Try it, and see what happens.