Music collaborations can be quite intimidating for artists that haven’t done it before. However, you shouldn’t hesitate because once you dive into collaborating, you might not want to stop!
A music collaboration is when two or more artists, musicians or producers come together to work on a single music project. Collaboration is more focused on everyone having a chance to musically express themselves. This compares to one person acting like the boss and directing everyone what to do.
There are so many more benefits to music collaboration that we will cover. However, the best way to see them is to try it out first hand. Reading will only get you so far so get out there and start collaborating.
What is a music collaboration?
Music collaboration between artists gives the best results when people have clear roles, are in a complementary team and are working towards the same goals. Alongside building team skills, you can also more than double the promotion you would get by yourself.
For example, singers that are just starting to write songs often will need help, perhaps they will only have the lyrics but not the melody. Finding a guitarist or pianist to give music to your lyrics will be a real help to get you started.
Everyone has different skills so by collaborating with others, you’re making much more possible! Whatever the reason you choose to collaborate with other musicians, you should enjoy working together as that will be what produces your best.
How do music artists collaborate?
#1 Set mutual goals
The most effective way of collaborating with other musicians is to make sure you have the same or similar goals. Avoiding different goals can help you both to work well together; otherwise, you’ll end up working towards different objectives and not succeeding.
Having a mutual understanding of where you want to end up in the industry makes it easier to work together. You’ll be able to use these goals as your drive to become a better musician all around.
#2 Internet collaboration
Collaborating with musicians across the world can help you to find opportunities in other countries. There may not be many opportunities where you live but fortunately, you can connect with artists online.
With the internet making it easier to instantly talk to other people no matter where they are in the world; there is no reason that collaborating can’t be achieved on a global scale. Using websites such as Skype, Facebook Messenger and E-mail, you can instantly communicate with other musicians.
You never know how successful the person that you’re collaborating with online could become. If you’re a part of their catalogue then it could end up being one of your biggest tracks.
How do producers collaborate?
#3 Complement each other
Producers are often looking for artists to collaborate with. This is because many producers can’t sing and only make the instrumentals themselves. They need someone else with a good voice to write the top line and record the vocals.
This is a great example of how music collaboration is most effective when one person’s skills complement the other. If you’re both trying to do the same thing in a similar way then you won’t get a great result.
Assess what your weaknesses are and see if you can find someones who’s strengths make up for it. You could even look at other artist’s weaknesses and try and see if your strengths complement them.
#4 Delegate responsibilities
It’s important that everyone involved understands what they’re meant to be doing and the limits of their responsibilities. You might have someone who is good at multiple things. However, it may be better for them to focus on fewer tasks so someone else can show their abilities.
Whenever there is a lot of work, make sure it is spread appropriately across the whole team. If one person isn’t taking on as much work as the others then their place in the team becomes questionable.
Why do artists collaborate?
Collaborating with other musicians can be beneficial for singers on a number of levels.
It can open up new ideas, give you an insight into how others write music or even get your name spread throughout other musicians’ fan bases. Below are some further reasons why collaborating and working with other musicians is good for singers.
Music collaborations can help singers to work well in a team. As an act gets more successful they’re going to need to build a team around them. Therefore, it is wise to know how to effectively work with other people.
The benefit of collaborating and working as a team is that you can bounce ideas off of each other. Two heads are better than one!
#6 More exposure
By collaborating with other artists, you and the musician you are working with can share your audiences. This can help you gain at least twice the reach you would normally. If the other person is more well-known than you, the potential reach is even higher.
Think about the network of the person you’re collaborating with as well as their fans. Many aspiring musicians will seek out artists or producers who are already well-established in the music scene. A high profile producer can boost their own popularity and in turn increase their credibility.
Whether it’s through more fans or a bigger network, collaborations will expand your reach. This is a major reason for artists to collaborate, just make sure it’s beneficial for everyone.
#7 Get discovered
Collaborating with other musicians will increase your chances of being able to springboard off your musical partner’s sudden success. This is, of course, impossible to know for certain or predict, but the smartest thing you can do to achieve this is is to seek out those with the most talent, and prioritise this over everything else.
Collaboration not only means exposure to their audience, but it could also mean exposure to their industry contacts. This will open up more opportunities and more people to collaborate or work with. They might even know some people on the business side of things, like an artist manager, someone who puts on gigs that you could play at or even a label representative.
#8 Get featured on streaming services
In an age where streaming — like Apple Music or Spotify — accounts for over 50% of music consumption, it is arguably the single most powerful way to gain rapid exposure. Offering you millions of potential fans at your fingertips, it’s a good idea to collaborate with other artists to increase your visibility on these platforms.
You might find it difficult to get onto playlists on Spotify or Apple Music if you’re only releasing by yourself. This could be the same for another artist or they may already be at the playlisting stage. Either way, being listened to by more fanbases through music collaborations could be noticed by these platforms and increase your odds of getting featured.
#9 Spice up your style
Many artists enjoy partnering up with musicians that have a different music style to theirs. This can result in a song that is original, innovative and fresh. It not only breaks you out of your stylistic comfort zone but may, subsequently, open doors to an entirely new fanbase.
Soul-pop singer Paloma Faith’s collaboration with drum and bass artist Sigma for the song ‘Changing’, or Cardi B’s ‘I like it’ which mixes hip hop with Latin trap are just a few of the many genre mixes that are rapidly increasing in popularity.
#10 Learn new skills
Regardless of whether your collaborative work is a success, collaborating with new people will always be a valuable learning experience that you can benefit from in future.
Through music collaboration, you may learn new songwriting techniques, production or recording skills, marketing tips and promotion ideas that will help to take you to the next level of your career
If the artist collaboration turns out to be a negative experience, this will teach you what not to look for in a music collaboration moving forward.
#11 Build your reputation
Word of mouth remains one of the most powerful methods to further your reputation as an artist. As with most things in life, success often comes down to the people in your network — so the more personal relationships you build, the more potential opportunities you will gain.
Artist collaborations are a great way to create relationships and build a network in an organic and meaningful way. With this in mind, make sure that you value and respect each collaborator regardless of your song‘s success.
Finally, remember to enjoy it! You could have great fun collaborating with others and build friendships as well as industry contacts.
How to find musicians to collaborate with
There are a few different ways to find people to collaborate with. Music Gateway is a community of thousands where you can post a project to find the perfect person to collaborate with. The best thing with Music Gateway is that it is global, making it really easy to get in touch with potential collaborators wherever they are!
Another good idea is to use postcards at local music suppliers or go to some networking events to try and meet people that you could collaborate with. Ideally, if you have someone reach out to you, see how you work together for an evening and if it goes well, continue to build your relationship.
Always try and think about who you could work with more broadly i.e. to create a song together or to add to your stage act if someone is reliable and punctual.
How to collaborate with bigger artists
If you want to collaborate with a bigger artist, you really need to think about what you can offer them. It is unlikely to work if you approach bigger artists without knowing them personally or without having made a name for yourself.
Your best chance of collaborating with bigger artists is to work your way into their network. This could be through attending all of their events and shows, getting familiar with their management or collaborating with someone who has already worked with them.
Push yourself to be as good as possible and don’t be disheartened if you’re not good enough to collaborate with a bigger artist yet. If it is really what you want to do, still try and network with them and you might have other skills that could be of use to them.
Music video collaboration
Working on a music video requires collaboration beyond music. You will have to collaborate with directors and videographers at the very least and big budget videos require a huge team. This can involve actors, costume designers, lighting crew, casting directors and makeup artists amongst many others.
If you want to make a great music video, you’ll have to learn to collaborate with a wide range of people. It is good to get a basic understanding of each of the fields that people are working on. This way you’ll be able to communicate with them and be better at articulating what you want them to do.
YouTube is the most popular platform in the world for listening to music. Some singers get started on YouTube and build up quite a big following. Collaborating with YouTube singers can be a great way to get in front of new fans online. YouTubers also tend to have good video production and editing skills so they might even be interested in further collaborations.
Best Music Collaborations
- Kendrick Lamar & SZA – ‘All the Stars’
- Cardi B & Bruno Mars – ‘Please Me’
- Jay Z & Alicia Keys – ‘Empire State of Mind’
- Estelle & Kanye West – ‘American Boy’
- Daft Punk, Pharell & Nile Rodgers – ‘Get Lucky’
- Ariana Grande & Mac Miller – ‘The Way’
- Anderson Paak & Schoolboy Q – ‘Am I Wrong’
- Kaytranada & Craig David – ‘Got it Good’
- SUBTRKT & Little Dragon – ‘Wildfire’
- Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj – ‘Bang Bang’
Collaboration in music
Music can be very collaborative and many of the best artists and performers enjoy collaborating with each other. However, there are many ways to collaborate in music without being a musician.
For example, a huge artist going on tour for a new record will need musicians, producers, engineers, promoters, sound engineers, lighting crew, photographers, videographers, stylists… the list of potential collaborations is endless.
There have been some amazing collaborations in music so share your favourites in the comments below.