Online Music Collaboration
Part 2: Collaborative Recording
By: John May, Dwarf Star Studios
Following up on Part 1, The Jam Session, this week we’re going to cover offline collaborative recording.
As we mentioned, many options exist to make this a reality, allowing you to work when individually convenient, play with others around the world, and maintain your social distancing while still making music.
Be sure to check out Part 1 on The Jam Session if you haven’t caught that yet.
Offline Collaborative Recording
If you are more interested in project-based collaboration than jamming, there are a number of ways to do this. Perhaps the easiest method is to swap sound or DAW (Digital Audio Workstation – your recording program) project files back and forth with your collaborators.
The most rudimentary method is for one person to be in charge of keeping the project together in their local DAW. They would start by recording a track, exporting it (starting at time zero), and sending it to the next musician. That person would load the track up in their DAW at time zero, record their new track, export it, and send it back to the central organizer who would then add it to the main project as an additional track. The organizer would then do a rough mix with the new track added and send it to the next musician, always exporting/importing at time 0. Keeping the tracks separate allows for final mixing once everything is collated.
Any basic file transfer service such as DropBox will suffice for sending files back and forth. Another feature with DropBox, is if everyone downloads the DropBox app, you can actually work on the project in the cloud and keep all files in one centralized location (one at a time, though). If you want to get even fancier and can all standardize on a recording program, services such as Splice, Kompoz and Blend allow for syncing of DAW project files so everyone can have the entire project on their machine to work with. This affords more flexibility to allow everyone to collaboratively experiment with song arrangement, mixing, etc.
An alternative to standardizing on a DAW and syncing files would be to use an online or collaborative DAW. Options here include OhmStudio, Sountrap, Trackd, BandLab and Soundation, Soundbridge or ProTools Cloud Collaboration. These all involve a combination of either a local application or a web-based program, with the syncing features already built in. While not necessarily as full featured as mainstream DAWs, many of these are quite mature and can provide the least friction for those without a lot of recording experience already.
Project File Syncing:
Splice - https://splice.com/features/studio
Kopoz - https://www.kompoz.com/
Blend - https://blend.io/
Online / Collaborative DAWs:
OhmStudio - http://www.ohmstudio.com/
Soundtrap - https://www.soundtrap.com/
Trackd - https://www.trackdmusic.com/
BandLab - https://www.bandlab.com/
Soundation - https://soundation.com/
Soundbridge - https://soundbridge.io/
ProTools Cloud Collaboration - https://www.avid.com/pro-tools/cloud-collaboration/
Collaboration Finder Sites
A beautiful thing about making music online is that you are no longer limited to playing with musicians who are geographically close to you. Many of the aforementioned web sites include directories of musicians using their products, helping you to find just the right person for that killer take. Other web sites dedicated to helping musicians find others to collaborate with include ProCollabs, Vocalizr, Bandhub and Audiu.
ProCollabs - https://www.procollabs.com/
Vocalizr - https://vocalizr.com/
Bandhub - https://www.bandhub.com/
Audiu - https://audiu.net/
Whether local or on the other side of the world, having fresh input is great for the creative process as well as for making new friends!