Blog - posted on October 8, 2010 by

Online Collaboration

It’s an odd, counter-intuitive, beautiful, thing that Vipercorps have going online. We make tunes together via online collaboration.

Finny lives over the Atlantic Ocean, we’ve never met in person, but we’ve somehow developed a music production workflow that suits both of us, (most of the time, I’ll get into that later…), and somehow at the end of it all, results in an audio product.

In this article, I would like to share some of the key points that we feel have made it possible to be able to succeed.

1. Communication


Obviously, you can’t leave your partner hanging for weeks at a time. If you are going to be away from the computer, you have an issue with connectivity, need a break, whatever – you have to let your partner know.
Be forthcoming about how much time you will be spending on stuff. If you pump out some work in one evening, then take a week working on the next track, your pal might get confused/frustrated. Let them know why, and be straight up.
At one point we attempted to draw up a loose schedule of goals for a 6 month period. It gave us some dates to work towards, and actually helped out for awhile. Mind you – we ended up taking a bit longer to get stuff done, but reflecting back – we met, and surpassed all of those goals.
I would mention something about being honest about feedback, but we decided on a different strategy, let me explain…

Whenever you give critical feedback, or honest feedback that might not be what your partner wants to hear – feelings can get hurt. We nipped this one right away by implementing the “Don’t Argue” method. How this works is simple: Don’t argue. If your partner comes back with a version of your latest track and you point out something you don’t like you partner has the option to either take your criticism and rework the song, or simply state “Nah, don’t argue.”
While this may seem odd to many people, guess what – it’s a lesson in sucking up your pride, and an excercise in trusting your partner. I like this rule alot.

When writing emails to any third party (label, venue, remixer, etc) on behalf of your team, I think it’s important that the email be reviewed by both of you before it goes out. I’ve made the mistake of sending out emails on our behalf and portrayed the wrong message, so be wary.
Use a spellcheck, have your Aunt proof it. Go that extra step.

2. Develop a Workflow


This process is going to be different for everyone, but so far I have found that our workflow has definetly evolved to a certain point. It’s interesting that sometimes when we change the workflow a bit, a different sound emerges.
Our basic workflow goes something like this:
-Someone creates a rough outline, it usually has some really key elements, but these too can be roughed out.
-The rough outline is sent, bounced down into individual tracks.
-The song is subject to resequencing, additions, subtractions, whatever by the partner.

At this point to date it’s very rare that the whole track is bounced down and sent back through this cycle again. Most of the time we communicate our likes, dislikes, and “Don’t Argues” over the details and if we have to deal with an individual track, then whoever has an issue with that track can tackle it.

3. Handling files


Everyone has their own way of organizing their samples and sounds, but when it comes time to send a large file or remix pack out make sure you have a trustworthy storage and delivery system.
I am not a huge fan of Yousendit or MegaUpload so I set up my own domain with server space. I upload via FTP and am at ease knowing my server is only working for me, and my hosting company has a redundant one in place.
Finny uses Dropbox alot to fire over stuff, and this has worked very well.

4. Be Open to Change


Obviously we started making tunes for fun, but when you start sending stuff to labels, getting responses, and receiving new deadlines, you need to pull up your pants and be ready to step up. Things we never really considered like “branding” and “marketing” are terms that are slowly seeping into our process and I think it’s important to take some of these things a bit more seriously. I’ve sent some pretty ridiculous pieces of work to labels in the past accompanied by pretty brutal emails…

“Hey dudes, check our sikkk new traxx, holla!”

How you talk to people, what you send, and when you send it can all portray who you are. When you are collaborating, make sure you are both in agreement, and that the message getting sent reflects your morals.
I suppose if you live in NYC or London, and rub shoulders with mighty label owners, perhaps you already have a relationship. But if you live out in the sticks, and your partner lives across the globe somewhere else…you don’t have that kind of connection, and you want to make them. Your tune may speak for itself, but there’s no harm in trying to be courteous, punctual, and professional.

And there you have it. I’m not going to link to our tunes to buy, I’m not trying to sell our music, I just hope somewhere, someone out there gains some insight and takes something to their collaborations and makes some sick breakbeats 😉

Once you’ve got some tracks ready to go – have a read at my article on online music promotion

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