Have you ever written a song over Skype?
The idea might have sounded bizarre a few years ago, but nowadays, it’s happening more often than you might believe, and the reasons are numerous: financial constraints that prevent long-distance collaborators from meeting up physically, day job responsibilities that require artists to travel at a moment’s notice, hectic tour schedules and many more.
In 2017, sudden spontaneous flashes of creativity can be shared instantly, viaFaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, or iPhone voice memos. Gone are the days when a beautiful melody was lost forever simply because it came to a writer while he or she was riding the subway without access to a pen and paper. Those sparks of brilliance can be captured much more easily, thanks to the technology that many have accused of ruining the music business.
Although there is an entire booming industry built on the backs of staff writers in Nashville studios penning platinum hits in gruelling scheduled songwriting sessions, independent artists without access to professional co-writers, excellent studio space, and cutting-edge recording software aren’t waving the white flag just yet.
Instead, partnerships are coming together through alternative platforms. It can be easy to forget that real people exist behind their online presences, but they do, and they often have great ideas that they want to express, even if their local community isn’t responsive, or if they live too far out of the way to meet up with other musicians regularly.
It ’s just as organic and natural as any face-to-face collaboration, and it seems to be working.
Lyricists match with composers on creative social networks such as Aballoon. Musicians in new cities find their niche on sites like DownToJam. Touring bands frequently hire session musicians from online platforms. Songwriters and guitar teachers offer one-on-one lessons online. It’s not entirely unheard of for bands to form on the unlikeliest platform of all: Craigslist.
In the pre-Internet age, musicians who did not live in the same city rarely managed to get much going in the way of a devout fanbase. If they weren ’t capable of sticking together long enough to land some recurring gigs, they weren’t very likely to catch the attention of A&R professionals, managers, or even their local community.
Of course, sometimes these things happened from time to time. Bands broke up due to day jobs, marriages, and relocations. In many cases, a move to another city, much less to another part of the country, was the final nail in the coffin for otherwise promising up-and-coming musical acts.
Over the last decade, as management and labels have become less crucial to an artists ’ success, independent musicians and bands have taken it upon themselves to change the face of the industry, using online platforms to engage with audiences globally, gather fans, and connect with them in a uniquely intimate way.
If you were a Myspace user in the mid-2000s, you might recall how many unsigned acts became overnight sensations thanks to the ever-widening audience that the now-defunct social network provided. Around the same time, fans and artists alike joined Purevolume with the sole intention of finding and streaming new indie music that had yet to gain notoriety in the mainstream.
While Myspace is now an online graveyard, and Soundcloud and Spotify have more or less replaced Purevolume, these platforms set the basic concept in motion, giving credence to the idea that musicians might actually be able to reach a lot of people without ever leaving their bedrooms.
Artists who are constantly touring openly discuss the advantage of long-distance collaboration, mentioning how they often utilize their free moments in hotel rooms to arrange Skype sessions or brainstorm ideas with their friends back home. A life on the road can be lonely, so an instant, touch-of-a-button accessibility to your artistic community can have emotional benefits, too.