Making music with other people online is easier than it has ever been. You don’t need to be in the same room or even country as a potential creative partner these days. I myself have completed tracks with producers, some of which are on the other side of the world. I’ve also worked with people that, having never met, wouldn’t recognise in the street if I walked past them.
Splitting The Workload
The problem with these short dips in the water is that often, they tend to be interesting footnotes in a producers discogs list rather than any long term investment. It’s also difficult sharing one computer with someone, does one hold the mouse while the other one uses the keyboard? Perhaps one person mixes the kick drum and the other mixes the snare drum. I’m being flippant here but it’s very easy to see how hard it is to share a vision if you are so comfortable working alone.
So what are the benefits? And how do you decide on who does what? It’s all very subjective, but say for instance, arrangement is where you really shine, and you are working with someone who is shit hot (technical term) at sound design. They can put together a body of sounds to build a beat, leaving you to put more energy in arrangement. There’s a lot of evidence too to support this idea that you do a better job when you only have to focus on one task – Pixar famously use separate rooms for brainstorming movie pitches (detailed in Scott Belsky’s book Making Ideas Happen). That’s one way to split the jobs, it’s also useful if you can’t be in the room at the same time too as you aren’t both required to be there.
Another way you can share the load is to take it in turns, when I worked with Sleeper in the past, we would both be in the room, swapping out of the producer chair every 30-40 mins. While one worked, the other listened, and provided feedback. This 'tag-team' approach worked great for us. As one person started to get frustrated or stuck on something, the other could jump in, refreshed and ready with their own ideas to add. It helped to keep the production process moving smoothly.
In the beginning, our workloads were divided by the skills we were both more comfortable and confident with. Over time that changed, as we got to learn from each other, as well as picking up new skills neither of us had learnt. I’m not sure these benefits are as easily gained via long distance, but there’s definitely scope for it.
Sleeper, Mesck and Thelem recently dropped a release on Crucial records featuring some of the finest material they’ve put out. It’s a great example of what you can do when you work together and showcases how much the rest of the scene will stand up and take notice when you do. In fact, another great example of this comes from Kahn, Commodo and Gantz's release on Deep Medi.
Admin, Shitty Admin
One other overlooked feature is social media. When you toot your horn over Twitter, Facebook et al. you are banking on enough people to interact with it, so that it doesn’t get buried by the sites algorithms. When there are three of you pushing one post, you are increasing the likelihood that others will see, listen and vibe with your creations.
In fact, admin in general, the part I hate the most out of being a producer, is made easier when there are more of you. It often feels like there’s not enough hours in the day to do all the things that go hand with being a musician. Want to run a label? Good luck putting out 20 of your tunes a month, and checking emails, listening to demos, organising mastering, pressing, checking test presses, writing press releases, on your own. All of this stuff is a lot easier when theres more of you.
Gang Gang Gang Gang
When a group is doing something interesting, it makes people pay more attention to its individual members. A$AP mob in particular, don’t spend a huge amount of time working as one crew, instead they act as a collective with shared interests. Chances are, if you like something that one of them is doing, you’ll like what another is doing and will check it out, so any success a single member of that crew gets is shared with the others.
The other benefit from being part of a crew is the competitive nature that comes from being part of a small community. When one member comes forward with something fresh, it can inspire you to come through with something of your own too. In my experience it’s definitely encouraged me to put the extra few hours to get more stuff down in a short space of time, which isn’t always as easy to do when you have to motivate yourself.
To wrap up, I’d like to say that working with other people is going to do little to harm what you are already doing on your own, you get to build better relationships and networks with other producers, as well as making giant leaps in improving your own skillset and approach. The saying ‘strength in numbers’ rings true here, so perhaps it’s time to collude and form your own crew.
Which combo of producers would you love to hear fused together? Have you worked with other producers and had a different experience altogether? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, if you enjoyed the post, please give it a share on FB, Twitter, Reddit etc.
Grab a copy of my Dark & Dangerous Sample Pack to add instant darkness to your own productions.