3 Key Tools for Online Songwriting Collaboration (That You Already Know How to Use)

Posted by Andrew Hall on Oct 6, 2014 11:30 AM
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songwriting_online_collaborationImage via greatlakestheater.org

Let’s face it: the songwriting process is a complicated one. It takes a lot of talent, focus, energy, and of course, collaboration. There’s the chord progression, melodies, beat, lyrics, and putting it all together. Everyone likes playing new material, so giving each person the opportunity to have input, learn, and create his or her part is key to having the songs ready to rehearse and play at your next show. Use these three great online tools to help you with your songwriting process and get you playing those gems in front of your fans in no time.

Text-sharing tool: Google Docs

We can all agree on the importance of lyrics – that’s why one of the most common places a song starts is in a notebook. Today’s journals, however, don’t have to include a pen and a legal pad when there's the internet, laptops, tablets, and phones. Below, Hall and Oates illustrate the power of using Google Docs for songwriting purposes:

Not only is the collaborative nature and multiple-person editing helpful, but its cloud-based, automatic saving ensures that you’ll never lose that idea of yours. You can also use it to distribute documents only to certain people by sending them private links.

Audio-sharing tool: SoundCloud

If 50 percent of the time songs start on paper, the other 50 percent they start on an instrument. As musicians, we all know that reading and hearing are two completely different things. You can read the amazing lyrics, but melody is a huge part of making them shine. Luckily for us, SoundCloud serves not only as a way to share our music with the world, but also as a collaborative recording and feedback tool.

SoundCloud Image via dubturboreview.org

SoundCloud’s easy-to-use app has a great-sounding recording device. It's a handy tool to have at your disposal if you want to record a quick piano/voice demo, or even just hum a melody that popped into your head. If you have a full-fledged recording studio, that’s great as well. You can still upload these files and, much like Google Docs, share them privately. But perhaps the best thing about SoundCloud is the commenting feature, where you can comment at any point in the song. This is where, as collaborative songwriters, you can point out your favorite parts, or make notes where you might want to change something.

Video-sharing tool: YouTube

Now, using audio as a recording and collaboration tool is definitely beneficial, but if you’re a visual learner like I am, you need to see chord changes. By using native cameras on phones or laptops, video recording is easy as pie, and utilizing YouTube as your video-hosting platform means you aren’t limited by space when uploading files. You have privacy if you want it, but you also have the ability to turn your demo into a cool teaser for your fans. (Just be sure the quality is fan-ready if you want to get feedback from your audience.)

Studio Image via thephonograph.co.uk

In addition to these three collaboration tools, there some great new online platforms, such as SongwriterLink, where you can get matched up with the kind of songwriters you're looking for and collaborate – ideal if you’re not in a band or just want another perspective. And with new technology like the Jamhub device, you don't even have to be in same room to write and rehearse together anymore.

As you venture into online collaboration, I'll leave you with these words of wisdom from "The Boss":

As a lifelong Bostonian, Andrew Hall has been an advocate for the local music scene by participating, managing, and consulting with bands since 2006. A founding team member of a service-based music management company Deer in Headlights Music Group, Andrew has taken his experience in community building and tech and applied that knowledge learned cross dimensionally.
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Topics: Features, Songwriting


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