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New Ways to Jam Online

June 30, 2014
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How to collaborate with other musicians on the Internet

When the Internet opened up the world to musicians, it didn’t just create new ways to distribute, promote, and sell music. It brought entirely new ways to collaborate with musicians and make music. This has caused an explosion of new methods to create and remix music online. If you need a creative jump start for your music, or just want to try new ways to collaborate with musicians around the globe, consider these options.

Virtual Jam Sessions With just a computer, an Internet connection, and a microphone or instrument jacked in to your computer, you have a lot of options for jamming with others online, in real time. Perhaps the biggest challenge with this type of collaboration site is Internet delay. If you have a solid broadband Internet connection, online jamming may be worth exploring. Try out eJamming (ejamming.com) or the open-source software programs Ninjam (ninjam.com) or Jamulus (sourceforge.net/projects/llcon).

Track Sharing Sites If you have your own DAW, you can help build songs with musicians all over the Internet, one track at a time. Musicians who would never have set foot in the same studio can now meet online and create new music. Sites to check out include Kompoz (kompoz.com) and Indaba Music (indabamusic.com). Take a listen to the diversity of tracks on the front pages of any of these sites to hear the incredible things that can happen with this form of collaboration.

Remixing Sites Want to try your hand at remixing music? Remixing sites give you access to the source tracks for songs from musicians all over the world. Make your own remixes and share them with other musicians, or upload your own tracks and see what other musicians can do with them. Some musicians’ music is so popular to remix, there are entire albums of remixes of their work done by other musicians. Doing this can put your music in front of new fans and generate exposure, as well as give you new material to work with. Try out sites like ccmixter (ccmixter.org) which uses the Creative Commons license.

Virtual Session Players No matter what kind of instrument you need to add to your song, there’s someone who’s willing to record it for you. Whether it’s a tabla, didgeridoo, koto, or samisen, it’s out there and available for your music through a virtual session. Some sites will charge a fee, such as Sessionplayers (sessionplayers.com) or Studio Pros (studiopros.com). However, if you just want to find musicians to work with, try sites like Sound Collabs (soundcollabs.com), or even musician message boards like Just Plain Folks (jpfolks.com).

Finding Local Musicians Online The Internet doesn’t just help you collaborate virtually, it also lets you find musicians in your local area as well. Sites like BandMix (bandmix.com), JamConnect (jamconnect.com), and Musicians Wanted (musicianswanted.org) allow you to connect to musicians online so that you can find people within your town. And don’t forget craigslist (craigslist.org), which is a surprisingly effective way to find musicians.

Other Collaborations You can collaborate online with more than just musicians. Possibly the most interesting interactions—and chances to collaborate—can be found on sites that are dedicated to other creative endeavors. Sites like Creative Cow (creativecow.net) help to match up all types of creative people—film, music, and more. And sites like GameDev (gamedev.net) help connect game developers with all the resources they need—including collaborating with musicians. And when it comes to music, don’t forget that nearly every major music DAW, platform, and system has online forums where users trade ideas, tips, and music.

One thing to keep in mind is all of these sites have their own terms and conditions that you must agree to before using them. Many of these agreements give these collaboration sites and their users rights to use your music—without which, no one would be able to share and collaborate. Most of these rights are incompatible with exclusive licensing. Some of the rights they claim are also perpetual, and nonrevocable. Also note confusion can arise as to who might own the sound recording or composition rights to a song where each musician uploaded a track on their own. The key thing to do is to make sure you’re comfortable with the rights you’re granting these sites before you use them.

Given the explosion of new options to create and remix music online, it’s amazing to think what one musician and a laptop can do to collaborate in entirely new ways with musicians all over the world.

Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan are authors of The Indie Band Survival Guide (St. Martin’s Griffin), now in its second edition.

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