5 Unconventional Collaboration Ideas for Bands (That Don't Involve Other Musicians)

Posted by Jhoni Jackson on Sep 3, 2015 07:00 AM
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creative_collaboration_vintage_boutique_independent_bands_artists_diy_performersiLe, a Puerto Rican singer, recently performed in Munich, Paris, Berlin, and Zurich sporting a slew of vintage outfits from Len.T.Juela, a San Juan boutique. (Image via websta.me)

Teaming up with another musician can spark new ideas that wouldn't have been possible without collaboration. So what happens when two creatives in different mediums work together?

Sometimes the results can be truly special, and the process inspiring. At the very least, joining forces is a chance for all parties involved to reach new ears and eyes. These five ideas for collaboration with creative folks in varying mediums – even food – are beneficial to mutual fanbase expansion. And they all seem pretty fun for both the makers and consumers, too.

1. Pair up for food and drink specials

Mastodon has released not one, but three, beers in the past few years. Maybe you don't have the same pull or connections as those metal heavyweights, but that doesn't mean you can't have some kind of booze – or dish – named for your band.

If you're enough of a regular at a bar or restaurant to know the owners or chef, why not ask about collaborating? Maybe you're already ordering a nontraditional cocktail – would they consider naming it after you? Sandwiches and burgers are also easy to customize. It might take some convincing if they've never considered such an idea, so a limited-time-only special could be easier for a hesitant collaborator to swallow. Like with any partnership, the promotion is advantageous for all involved.

2. Dress up with an upstart designer

When you're on stage performing for nearly an hour, people will undoubtedly notice what you're wearing. Why not have some fun with it? That doesn't necessarily mean an over-the-top, glitzy getup, although that definitely works for some artists and bands. No matter the style, for any musician into fashion, selecting the live show gear is an opportunity to collaborate with an upstart designer, boutique, T-shirt company, or an individual stylist. Both parties can share photos or video of the look on social media, helping to spread the word to potential new fans in either camp.

3. Seek out video promotions with fledgling filmmakers

In addition to flyers and Facebook events, you can promote an upcoming show or album with a short video. Bands do it all the time, really; Atlanta-based punk outfit the Coathangers recently released a short clip of their own teasing a forthcoming album.

Making a promo video probably isn't a new concept to you, but maybe you haven't tried it yet because you feared the cost. While compensating filmmakers for their work is ideal and much deserved, aspiring creatives might be interested in working with you as a way to build their portfolio of work or get their name out to more people for potential commissions. To help keep spending to a minimum, check out our budget-friendly tips for music videos – they're easily applicable to promotional clips.

4. Illustrate your band

The connection between music and comics is long standing, from subjects in an overall storyline to real-life bands or artists serving as central characters. Just a few months ago, Malaysia-born artist Kongkee created a comic book about Blur's upcoming album, The Magic Whip.

If you're friends with or a fan of an independent comic-book artist, consider suggesting a collaboration. It could be something like Kongkee's project, an illustrated version of your band making a cameo, or a character listening to your latest single. However you're incorporated within the work, the potential for a cool, unique collaboration is great.

5. Curate a podcast or radio show

Instead of just guesting or playing a live set on a podcast or online radio show, why not curate an entire hour of music? You can play your own tunes plus those of bands or artists you've shared lineups with – or would like to in the future. Any opportunity to be part of a set can be a promotional boost for an upcoming album or show, but hosting your own show, whether regularly or just once, is another great option not taken advantage of often enough.


Next up: 3 Creative Ways to Musically Collaborate With a Visual Artist


Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible.

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Topics: Music Business 101, Marketing & Promotion


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