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Online Collaboration Advice

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  • Online Collaboration Advice

    Hey Guys,

    I've got some friends moving around these days and we're really interested in still working on music together even though we're no where near eachother these days. Have any of you found some good sites that would be well suited for sharing music work and collaborating on the same projects? I know that for straight coding and small files there are sites with version control and all kinds of neat tools, but if we're interested in always having access to the most up to date versions of project and large sound files, is there a service out there to help? I don't mind paying a bit per month, just wondering if any of you guys have found some great places to store stuff when working with others?

    I searched around but couldn't find anything specific or that had what I was hoping for. I suppose I could just buy an FTP and have each of us synch a folder on our hard drives to an FTP project folder. Figured I'd check if someone had a better idea or more experience in the area to help me out!

    Thanks!

  • #2
    I can address this. Our core group is scattered over 2 states (with one member 900 miles away) and our CD (Parliament of Fooles, never lose the chance for a gratuitious plug) was done much along the lines you seek.

    First, establish what music software you'll be using. Get everybody who will be doing home recording on the same software. For that matter, it's easier if you get everybody on the same sound card. Me and the bass player use the M-Audio Delta breakout box and card while our principle producer uses some crappy old Creative thing. It's not a real big deal but does pose the occasional problem.

    Once you've got that settled, then have one person setup the project in whatever software you're using to mix/engineer. Give each contributing member the files to that (I'll come back to how in a minute). Now everybody is starting from the exact same departure point.

    Learn how to export tracks in the software. This needs to include exporting in such a way that everybody else involved can import the "stuff" and it'll go exactly in the same spot in everybody's respective project. I can't stress how important this is.

    Then, get some online storage. As you mentioned, FTP is just fine. You don't need any online syncing crap if your software has a decent export/import function and y'all learn how to do it. Thus, when somebody records some bit, they export it, upload the file(s) to the FTP site, email everybody who then downloads and imports.

    You're done.

    Any online storage site will do although since you'll presumably be working with wav files, you'll want a decent amount of storage. Some of the freebie sites might not have enough and they also might have bandwidth restrictions. You want none of that.

    www.myspace.com/rubberuniverse
    TD-12, DTX502, SD1000, EZDrummer, Diamond Drum 12" snare, S1000 toms/cymbals/kick, PCY10/100/135/155, CY-5/14, Hart Ride, Hart Acupad 8" kick, Epedal Pro II, Concept 1 pads/cymbals, SD1000 & Roland V Sessions racks, PD-7, Kit Toy 10" splash, DMPad ride, SamplePad, PerformancePad Pro

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    • #3
      Wow, thanks for all the advice, Grog. It's great to know that someone managed to do an entire album like that. It's motivating!

      Maybe exporting properly and having that entire project folder on an FTP to be downloaded and imported would be the best. I'll have to poke around and see if we can sort out some online storage. It's great to benefit from all the experience in these forums.

      Thanks again!

      Comment


      • #4
        OK, Grog is definitely more experience than I, but here's my take:

        1. Every project needs a creative coordinator whose word is final. As the old expression goes, "Too many cooks spoil the broth". That's not to say that creative participation should be discouraged, only that anarchy seldom results in good music.

        2. Start with a scratch track that includes a click track, i.e. guitar and vocal on the left channel, click track on the right (or vice versa). In instances where I tried to provide a drum track for a sloppy scratch track, it was tremendously frustrating and never ended up with a finished product.

        3. Exchange tracks in a universal compressed format (I prefer MP3), but each artist should keep their original tracks on a high-definition format like WAV or better. Like Grog said, everyone needs to agree on what these formats will be.

        3. IMO, the drums and bass parts should be the first things created after the scratch track, and need to be as close to "finished" as possible - i.e. accurate in regards to meter and timing, and with fills and stops in the right places. This lays the foundation for other instruments. Unless there are gaps in the song where the rhythm section drops out entirely, then you can dispense with the click track at this point.

        4. If the instrument and vocals in the scratch track are too far from the creator's vision of the finished product, they should be re-recorded at this point.

        5. Now it's time to add the supporting instruments, be it lead guitar, keyboards, vocal harmonies, etc.

        6. At this point, it may be appropriate to tweak the beginning tracks to accomodate changes in tone and meter introduced along the way. At some point, though, the creative director needs to be able to say that the project is finished, lest you spend the rest of your lives making one song "perfect".

        7. If on-line storage space becomes an issue, you can always send the final files to the mix-down artist on CD via US mail.

        I have found the thing that makes it most difficult to put together a collaboration is if the scratch track has timing errors or sloppy edits. Unless your initiating musician has a truly great sense of rhythm, it is imperative that he or she start with a click track.

        This is all advice based on my limited experience, and I'm sure there are corrections and certainly additions those with more experience can make.

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        • #5
          Lemme bounce off of Stick here on some of the things he raised.

          Creative Coordinator, aka The Producer. Yes. Absolutely. For our album, we had co-producers who did exactly that. We've also done (and are doing) any number of studio covers of various songs in which somebody else is the producer, depending on the song. It's usually me or the bass player. Sure, everybody collaborates but all the coordination and final say on things (and final mixing and most of the engineering) is in the producer's hands.

          Scratch track and What to "Lay Down" First. This really depends. Sure, typically the drums and bass are done first but we've also not done it this way and have been just fine. Don't feel boxed into a creative corner if you can't get things done in a certain order. As far as a scratch track goes, yeah, that helps a lot but isn't always possible. Of course trying to have everybody start at the same time "from scratch" invites chaos so *something* needs to be laid down first. Here is where your software can come in handy and eliminate the need for a click track. If you lay out the project to include tempo, and mark it accordingly in the project, then you can record and visually see where things go. It makes editing soooooo much easier. Again, this is one of those setup things that if you take the time to learn the software and do it this way, you'll wonder how you ever did anything without it. Early on in our process, we had a "producer" (who was an incompetent asshat) who never bothered to setup the projects in any coherent way (did I mention he was also lazy?). Once we tossed him out and began working on the material ourselves, this was one of the first things we learned he wasn't doing. And when we implemented it, man, it really helped. In fact, this is another thing that makes online collaboration possible. When you're further into a song, you can say, for example "I need a 3 measure guitar riff starting at measure 44". Soooooo easy.

          www.myspace.com/rubberuniverse
          Last edited by grog; 05-28-08, 08:26 AM.
          TD-12, DTX502, SD1000, EZDrummer, Diamond Drum 12" snare, S1000 toms/cymbals/kick, PCY10/100/135/155, CY-5/14, Hart Ride, Hart Acupad 8" kick, Epedal Pro II, Concept 1 pads/cymbals, SD1000 & Roland V Sessions racks, PD-7, Kit Toy 10" splash, DMPad ride, SamplePad, PerformancePad Pro

          Comment


          • #6
            Those are some great tips. Thanks so much, both of you. I'm very guilty of ignoring the built in tempo features but you make a damn good case for doing it right. Normally when we do any recording, we're all physically in the same room so we have no problems communicating what we want. I can imagine that it'd get awkward once we're not directly together... Thanks so much for your input guys!

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