Musicians love to collaborate with others when a song calls for something beyond their set-up. There are countless examples of bands and acts having a featured vocalist to add depth or perform a full duet as necessary, or call on an additional instrument that would complete a song. Collaborations are very common between big name stars, simply because record companies have vast resources to make collaboration deals that are perfect for the song happen fast.
Unsigned acts have not always had this luxury. They must rely on their own resources and their outer circles of friends and contacts to obtain the services of other musicians. The potential of a song is sometimes left unrealised due to restrictions in resources and additional talent. Thanks to the internet, musicians now have options and opportunities available to them that simply did not exist before.
The advancement of free communication and file-sharing technology has reached the point where musicians can upload a post a to forum website requesting the service of other musicians, then negotiate a collaboration with anyone, anywhere in the world. They can not only find a greater pool of talent, but also share recordings and settle fees without meeting face-to-face.
The right collaboration can do wonders for increasing your fanbase
Such sites have opened up a new realm of possibilities for music collaborations. An indie rock band from Europe that require additional strings for a ballad can search for violinists, cellists, etc. that may be based in Asia. They can negotiate a collaboration deal, share their demo track, negotiate compensation and obtain quality recordings of their requested strings, without booking studio time or a local string group that may be much more expensive to hire.
The possibility of working with musicians elsewhere in the world has the added benefit of the song reaching a new audience. It would stand to reason that any featured musicians would promote their work to their own fans. Social media, SoundCloud and other media sharing sites allow international audiences to follow an unsigned act from anywhere in the world just as easily as any big-name artist.
Cost is a big factor for unsigned bands. However, the biggest benefit for them is the range of talent now on offer. Hiring musicians from elsewhere in the world may be more expensive than local talent, but musicians often do want to spend money on their craft. Access to the perfect vocalist to a song for an additional cost is an option many musicians would end up taking, even when operating on a budget. The chance to have the song sounding the best it can sound is often justifiable in order to be satisfied with a project.
Musician forums have also allowed unsigned musicians to be more ambitious with their early songwriting. Knowing there is a greater possibility of finding someone with the necessary range of talent to pull off a difficult riff or octave allows for a higher writing quality from lesser known musicians.
Bands can now put together a richer quality EP than they could 10 years ago. A greater depth of featured talent and richer songs also lead to a greater audience. Bands that can deliver a quality product not normally seen from unsigned acts have a greater chance of gaining a larger following and selling CD’s.
Collaborating with others doesn’t just mean having them feature on tracks. A healthy contact list is essential for musicians looking to play gigs, getting to know producers and promoters and gaining fans in new places.
Taking the time to get acquainted with musicians from other towns at a gig is well worth doing. Being close with out of town bands means they will keep their friends in mind when a support slot comes up at a gig. The “I’ll get you a gig in my hometown and you get me a gig in your hometown” arrangement can just be a way to get an extra gig, but they are a great source of potential experience and information. Road gigs are great for expanding audiences and meeting new promoters.
It is impossible to know who will be at a given show at any given time, but sometimes circumstances happen that someone really likes this band from out of town and invites them back for more gigs they organise in the future.
Playing further afield is also a great way to meet all sorts of people, not just audience members or someone in the promoting industry, but people with experience and good knowledge of the industry. Even the sound engineers at a club or dedicated music venue are often good sources of useful information. They have perhaps been working in their area for a considerable time and are aware of who’s who.
Information pertaining to a studio that may offer a promotion package along with recordings, or the name of a promoter who knows which gigs and venues are perfect for an acts style of music could be invaluable to anyone trying to break in to professional musicianship. Such information is certainly worth doing a few favours for other bands and giving away support time in a hometown gig.
Collaboration is essential for musicians starting out their careers. Not just recording collaborations to boost audiences, but simply working with other bands to improve contact lists. Knowing what is on offer and who to contact is what is needed to get off the ground. Even a band from a big city, with all the resources and venues on their doorstep still need to work with other musicians to get experience. Nothing major gets done without collaboration in music, and since the internet has made collaboration easier, there is now no excuse for musicians not to use it to get ahead.
This article is written by Chris Taylor on behalf of Music Gateway - Providing the global online marketplace for the music industry.
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