On-line collaborations – David’s blog.

Working on collaborative music sites – David’s perspective

I’d played in bands while growing up; it was relatively easy as you knew who played what, whether they were any good and the type of music they liked.  You also had a fighting chance of knowing if you were likely to get on with them.

Having moved away from my home area and had a spell of not writing songs, I wanted to return to collaborative working, the question was how?  I didn’t know people locally and I didn’t think I had the time to commit to regular rehearsals.  I was looking for people who could help me finish off tracks, with a view to them being shared more widely.

The good news is that the internet has enabled those in this situation to share ideas across boundaries.  After a bit of research, I joined a site called Kompoz.  It was free and relatively easy to work through the basics on, with well-priced options to upgrade your package if you wanted to.  The forums were quite lively with some useful groups of interest that you could join.  You quickly learn that some of the message boards can be somewhat addictive, with regular contributors on just about every subject.

You need to invest time in your bio, I think.  People using the site will check you out, what you say you like and how you view your strengths.  It’s perhaps not so necessary once you’ve got a portfolio of music on there, but as a newcomer, it’s vital.

It was a strange sensation uploading the first mix of my first track and then posting it.  A sense of excitement followed with a due sense of trepidation; what would other musicians make of it?  Would anyone offer to help out?  If they did, would I like their contributions?  Whereas with a more traditional band introducting new ideas and tracks is relatively safe, you have no idea about the reaction when you post to anyone with access to the internet.

As it was there was some feedback, postings welcoming me, but no contributions.  What you quickly learn is that there is a shortage of vocalists out there and those that are about heavily in demand.  Given that this was what I was wanting, it was a bit of a disappointment.  But then, perhaps I had been naïve to think that there would be this pool of vocal talent just waiting for me to make my entrance.

I think my experience would be that on-line sites offer a great opportunity to dip in and out of working with other people and there is scope to adapt your involvement to how much time you have.  It is fantastic for trying new styles of music and developing contacts; somewhere between a musical dating site and an advert in Melody Maker (showing my age here).  If you are lucky, you get constructive feedback, if you are not, the comments are more bruising, and gauging how you interact with others is something of an art form.  There are often suggestions about the ‘rules of engagement’ from regular users and these are well worth reading.

Some of my tracks have been more successful, in terms of getting completed, than others but how else would I have been able to collaborate with other musicians across practically every continent?