One of my 2018 goals is to spend more time collaborating with other producers, musicians, and singers. Two heads are always better than one and there’s no better opportunity to learn new tricks of the trade or stumble upon new and original ideas than observing another artist’s creative process. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned to help you get the most out of your collaborative sessions.

  • Be Prepared!

It might seem obvious, but having something prepared in advance is an essential part of having a successful studio session. This can mean a lot of things: a drum pattern you’ve been working on, a chord progression that you’ve been playing all week, a notebook full of lyrics. As long as you’re bringing something to the table consider your bases covered. Collaborating with an artist for the first time can be an intimidating experience and there’s nothing more difficult than starting a project from zero.

  • Bring Your Toys

One of the most important lessons we learn as children is to share our toys. Let’s not pretend musical instruments and gear are anything more than big kid toys, so let’s bring them along to the session and share! It’s easy to get too used to the gear we already own. After a while, old keyboards start to sound stale and familiar samples lose their luster. But those patches you’re all too familiar with are brand new to your collaborator, and fresh ears mean fresh ideas. So don’t be afraid to dig out your old clarinet or throw those samples you’d counted out onto a thumb drive. Bring them to the session!

  • Be Open Minded

If you hope to have a successful session then this last tip is the most important of all. Collaboration is fun and fruitful, but it can also be vulnerable. If you’re anything like me then you might find sharing unfinished songs and beats to be excruciating. Showing somebody your incomplete, unedited, unpolished ideas is terrifying, so try to have an open mind and trend towards positivity and constructive feedback in your sessions.

It’s also important to be open to different ways of doing things. Everyone’s creative process is going to be different. Rather than warring with your collaborator over the best way to program drums in Ableton, sit back, observe, listen and you might learn something new. At the end of the day, it isn’t important how something is made if it never gets completed.

I hope you’ve found these tips to be useful! There’s often no better way to accelerate your creative development than to mind-meld with another artist, so get out there and start collaborating!

Damien Verrett

Damien Verrett in an instructor and curriculum developer for Digital Media Academy Music Production courses. He is also an incredible musician under the name So Much Light.

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