In times like these, we NEED music more than ever. If you want to know why now is absolutely a good time to be releasing music, then read our blog post.
For the solo bedroom producers out there, you may have more time than ever to write. But what if you’re in a band and rely on other people, such as bandmates or producers, to help get your music made? Maybe you’re a producer looking for an artist or singer to collaborate with, or vice versa.
Collaborating remotely may not be ideal, but we believe that distance shouldn’t stop you from working with others. In fact, due to the amount of online tools out there it’s simpler than ever, and can be a great way to create.
“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.” – Alan Cohen.
In this post, we’re going to give you some tips on how to keep your music and release moving from a distance if you rely on others such as band members, producers and artists to help get it made. We want to help you use your time effectively, increase momentum and boost your music career to the best possible position.
Be sure to refer to our useful release checklist whilst you go along. And don’t forget, for the rest of May we’re giving you free single uploads!
Songwriting: How can we write music if we can’t meet up?
The pandemic has put a temporary halt on songwriting sessions. Luckily with today’s technology there are a number of nifty ways to sidestep the problem.
Send ideas to each other.
If you usually write with others, then be resourceful. Consider relaying ideas back and forth, giving feedback to each other until you’re all happy. You can simply record demo ideas on your phone’s Voice Memo app (or try out Abbey Road Studios’ genius Topline App), and send them across to each other over social media or email.
Use video-calling apps.
The best way to write in real-time at the moment is by using video calling apps like Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your virtual songwriting sessions:
– Plan and be prepared just as you would for an in-person songwriting session. Bring musical ideas that you’ve been working on, consider achievable goals and structure your session to work efficiently with the time you have.
– Agree on times to meet regularly. This will help you to keep a good rhythm in your songwriting and fuel your creative productivity, as well as giving you something to look forward to!
– Lower your expectations. Video-calling can sometimes be slow to take off and may not have the same flow as meeting in person. This can be due to things like latency (the delay), caused by things like the strength of internet connection to the type of equipment being used.
– Record your session – whether it’s just the audio or the entire video – to make sure that you keep the ideas that you come up with. This also reduces the time spent having to stop and record any of these ideas! Simply go back and listen or watch the recording. (Additionally you can use excerpts of it as a cool promo video for your song).
Now, for some technical tips:
– Stick as close to your router as possible. Ideally, use an ethernet cable, if you have one, for the best connection.
– Set up in a creative space with no distractions.
– Use an external microphone to really boost your audio quality.
– Wear headphones, preferably noise cancelling, to get rid of background noise and direct your thinking towards the session so you don’t miss anything.
– Use your laptop or desktop, and close all other programs whilst on the call.
– Take plenty of time to test the video-calling app beforehand to save time and frustration.
How to optimize Zoom for music audio.
Zoom’s default settings are set up for regular voice chat, so you’ll want to tweak the settings to be optimized for your session. To get the best audio quality on Zoom for music, you’ll need to do the following:
– Click on the Zoom link for your meeting as you usually would, and select ‘Join With Video’ and ‘Join With Computer Audio’.
– Click on the arrow next to the microphone symbol in the bottom left hand corner and select ‘Audio Settings’.
– Uncheck ‘Automatically adjust microphone volume’ and aim to have the input gain around the halfway mark.
– Go to ‘advanced’ and click the box that says ‘Show in-meeting option to “Enable Original Sound” from microphone’.
– Then disable “Suppress Persistent Background Noise” and “Suppress Intermittent Background Noise” and keep “Echo Cancellation” as auto.
– It should say ‘Turn off original sound’ in the top left hand corner of your screen.
And that’s it!
Jamming remotely in real-time.
Another way to write in real-time is to use Endless, a new app where you can make music and jam live online with other artists and DJs all over the world. You can use your own acoustic or electronic instruments, link it up to your DAW or simply use the app’s built in sounds to create music. Any riff’s contributed to the jam can be quantized, so everything will always be in time with one another.
It’s currently available for download on your iPhone/iPad for free, and is coming to Mac, PC and VST very soon.
Use an online collaboration tool.
Usually, working with others requires a bit of back and forth feedback and editing. Using an all-in-one collaboration platform like Pibox can simplify the process. Pibox manages everything in one place (a bit like Google Drive or Trello, but orientated for music). All you’ll need to do is upload your music files and create a project. From there, you can highlight parts of the track that need editing, as well as leave comments for your team members. You can collaborate on projects from multiple locations around the world and Pibox will send you a custom notification whenever the project is updated.
Sign up free for unlimited projects, 1 GB for MP3 and access for 2 collaborators. Upgrade from just $5 each per month at the moment for more storage, wav, other hi-res files support and access for more members.
Set up your studio.
For DIY recording and production, you’ll need to make sure you have great quality recording equipment and at least one band member/collaborator who has access to a home studio or DAW. For some advice on how to do this, read our blog post. And singers, if you’re not quite sure where to begin when it comes to recording your own vocals, then Abbey Road has some great advice on how to do this.
If Logic or Abelton aren’t in your budget, there’s some free recording software you can get online such as Audacity which is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. If you have a Mac then you’ll already have access to Garageband.
Then you have BandLab. A free all-in-one online DAW made simply accessible through your internet browser. Perfectly apt for those who do not have access to a usual DAW. As well as being available for download to your devices, you can create, collaborate and sync across platforms. BandLab also enables you to mix and master your tracks with ease. We’ve come a long way since Snake!
*Bear in mind you will need to have a decent sound-card or digital audio interface like this one.*
Putting your parts together.
If you all have the facilities to carry out home recording, then we suggest using the same DAW. Preferably the one you’ll be using for the final project. This will make your life easier by enabling you to pass the project folder around and record your own parts and instruments without the need to bounce and import audio files.
Alternatively, you can record on any DAW, bounce out your parts and send them over to one member, ideally who has the most experience with DAWs and production. You’ll want to be sending over your draft audio recordings as MP3 whilst you’re working on your song. They are files that contain less memory which makes transferring them quicker. When it comes to the final product, sending ‘AIFF’ ‘MIDI’ or ‘WAV’ files will make sure your song is of the highest quality. You can send these over file sharing sites such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or WeTransfer.
Finishing off your release.
So you’ve finished your new song (or songs), but now it needs to be release-ready. This means getting it mixed and mastered. But what if you don’t have the skills to? What if this process is usually done in the studio?
Firstly, you’ll want to comb your network to find someone who has great production skills and experience, and has enough time on their hands to work within your given timeframe. If not, don’t worry as there are several options out there:
Abbey Road has an online mastering service.
Sound Better enables you to hire sound engineers online.
Commission someone on a website like Fiverr, they actually have a category on mixing and mastering.
There are usually presets in your DAW’s to help you master.
It’s important to remember that many other creatives such as artists, animators, photographers and videographers are also under hardship right now. So it is a great time to link up with these people. They can support you by making your artwork and visuals, and you can support them by giving them work and getting it out to your fans! Unity is key.
Creative Commission connects thousands of creatives with paid work in the music industry for a 0% fee.
Radar connects the music industry with filmmakers, designers and photographers globally. Radar has both new and experienced exclusive creatives who specialise in visual content and the music business.
Fiverr is an online marketplace for digital services. You can browse the selection of freelancers who offer services called ‘Gigs’. There is even a category specifically on album cover design.
The Dots is an online professional network for creatives (think LinkedIn but more creative). It’s designed to connect creatives with collaborators, companies and commercial opportunities. If you’re looking to ask someone to create your visuals, simply post your job in the online community.
Do it yourself
Just like with mixing and mastering, first look for people in your network. Or, could you learn to do it yourself? There’s so many things you can learn to do on the side, as well as making your music, to keep up momentum.
Hop onto Skill Share which is free for 14 days or just £7 a month (not much more than your Netflix bill). Or even learn some skills in Photoshop and at the moment, you can trial Final Cut Pro X for free for 90 days! There are some great apps out there for your images and artworks as well as loads of free apps for creating and editing videos.
One final point.
Don’t forget social media. Our Spinnup Community on Facebook is the perfect place to find musicians and producers to collaborate with. Good luck with your release!