Posted by StringOvation Team on Apr 3, 2020
Despite shelter-in-place and social distancing mandates, the good news is there are plenty of ways to keep connecting with our friends, school mates, teachers, colleagues. Even cooler — we can reach out to new people and even music industry experts in other states and countries! To get started, we‘ve pulled together different online tools, platforms, and resources. They’ll help you share and collaborate to create and perform music right from the comfort of your own home (or from wherever you are).
Share Music Files with Each Other
At the most basic level of collaboration, you can simply share your files. Thankfully there are lots of file sharing / storing / sending services that are free and very simple to use: e.g. DropBox, Box, WeTransfer, Hightail, SendAnywhere, and MediaFire to name just a few.
Some file sharing and storage services also come bundled with other software you may already be using — the most common ones are Apple’s iCloud (comes with 5GB of free storage), Microsoft’s OneDrive (also 5GB free), and Google Suite’s GoogleDrive (15GB free).
At the “free” level, you’ll be limited in the size of files you can upload and download, and the total storage you can have — but you can always upgrade (storage is cheap these days, e.g. iCloud is $2.99 / month for 200 GB at publication time). Since video files tend to be fairly large, you’ll want to choose the service that fits the music projects you’ll be doing and makes it easy for you to share with whomever you wish.
Create New Music Together
There are so many ways to do this today — Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, Alexa Echo, Google Hangouts Chat , Facebook Live, Instagram Live (among many others) — all of them let you turn on your webcam, microphone, so you can chat live, play, and share your computer screens, and some even let you record your sessions. Most of these are free, or come bundled with a product.
Music teachers and students can do lessons one-on-one or one-to-many! So although you’re all in your own homes, teachers can still give lessons, and you can all practice your school (or other) performances together. You could call your practice buddy across town and practice together. That’s way more fun than practicing all by your lonesome — not to mention getting a better workout.
Composition Apps / Sites / Services
For those of you looking to connect with other musicians to create new music, whether that’s writing a new song, finessing a symphony or Broadway-style musical, here are sites that can help you realize that dream. Most of these have a free/entry level membership, which are good to start. But as you expand out to do more, you’ll need to cough up some bucks.
Audiu is aimed at helping up-and-coming music composers, performers, and producers hone their craft. They offer mentoring services with top professionals, along with an audio hosting platform with integrated community feedback and pro audio services you can buy. They recently introduced RepostExchange, a service where you earn credits for reposting other artists’ work and they in turn, earn credits for reposting yours. You spend your credits when you reach out and ask other artists to repost your work. All of this is done using SoundCloud as the backbone for where work is shared and reposted — so you’re getting exposure to millions of people on SoundCloud, not just other artist
Winner of NAMM’s Best Classroom Technology in 2018, BandLab gives teachers and students access to their online music studio, with the ability to play virtual instruments, and a sound library chock full of different premium effects. Teachers can create and send assignments, and provide feedback to students. And if you don’t want to do this in a classroom situation, as an individual musician, you can sign up for BandLab and still get access to all their online music studio tools as well as collaborating with other musicians from around the world, entering their contests, and posting your live performances. Here’s their channel showcasing classical compositions.
Flat has one purpose only: creating sheet music. And their version for education makes it easy for students to learn how to collaborate on creating music scores. It works on any device, and it’s integrated with the major LMS such as Google Classroom, Moodle, Edmodo, Schoolology and others.
Not only does Kompoz help you find other musicians around the world to help you with your compositions, their different plans enable you to also collaborate on other musicians’ compositions, upload your files, and even sell your music! It makes it easy to split commissions, do spin-off collaborations, join different user groups, and set up your own communities. You can create both private and public collaborations. Here’s an example of the classical compositions being done on Kompoz.
Pibox is a project management app for music production. It lets the people you invite give feedback in the cloud directly in your music/audio files. The free plan allows for up to 2 collaborators with 1 GB of storage. This would be a good tool when you’re at the final stages of producing a piece of music and want to get limited feedback and input. The paid plans give you the option to add more collaborators and storage space.
An open music and audio platform. It’s a great tool for sharing your music with other artists and fans. You could even set up your own podcast and attract subscribers. As a teacher, you could capture your students’ individual and group performances and make them part of a podcast where people can subscribe and automatically get your students’ latest downloads. As a musician, you can do the same thing. SoundCloud has 76 million registered users, and 176 million unique monthly listeners. If you want your music to be found and heard — Soundcloud is a great resource. If you upgrade to their Premier Plan, you can even promote your music (pay to play) on SoundCloud as well as other major music platforms and sell your music online. NEW: the SoundCloud Artist Team is available for “Creator Office Hours” where you can get music career advice LIVE. Bookmark that page so you can keep up with their latest availability.
Not quite a year old, Soundstorming is a mobile app that lets you record, organize, discover, and collaborate online. You can record your music ideas, e.g. riffs, melodies, etc., organize those ideas (keep them private, or share them publicly), find other musicians, composers/songwriters, and collaborate by recording your ideas with theirs or video versa.
Similar to BandLab, except Soundtrap is integrated with the most popular learning management systems (LMS) used in schools for lesson plans, assignments, and grading. A wonderful resource for music teachers, as well as English / creative writing teachers. Soundtrap even provides podcasting and music-making rubrics, as well as lesson plan ideas from other teachers. Recording, mixing, and mastering tools, libraries of sounds, loops, presets, make your own beat patterns — all using your own computers, instruments, microphones. Create distance learning lessons, record practices, performances, even produce podcasts. During the COVID-19 crisis, Soundtrap is FREE to educators and schools on an extended trial basis if you sign up this spring semester. Soundtrap’s team is available to work with educators to get them started. Soundtrap is also available for musicians.
Another new service that also lets you store your music in the cloud and collaborate with other musicians. See the changes other artists make to your files when they make them. People post projects you can join in on, there are contests you can enter, and there’s a huge library of sounds you can draw upon. They let you rent app plug-ins for up to 3 days to try out some of the best sound tools out there. Then either buy them (monthly payment plans available) or not.
A super simple app with lots of tools that you use to record and mix your music. Works with cloud file sharing services like DropBox. Meet and share with other musicians, collaborate on each other’s music, provide and receive feedback. Works with your webcam. Share on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Even works with SoundCloud.
Vampr is a mobile app that acts much like a dating app. Set up your profile (you can use SoundCloud and YouTube to help do that), and start connecting with musicians, music industry players, and music lovers. When you find someone you want to collaborate with, swipe right. Connect, collaborate, give and get feedback, and do it all in the secure environment Vampr provides. Vampr is free and you can download it from the AppStore and GooglePlay.
Let’s Perform Together
Awesome. Simple. Free. BandHub.
BandHub brings musicians of all genres, who are playing on all instruments, from all over the world. People post a “collab,” which is a song or instrumental composition. You can create a collab, or join one. When you join a collab, you record your part at your own time while listening to the original track. Then you upload it, and a collab organizer mixes all the tracks together. You don’t need to have anything more than a webcam and microphone. (You have to download and use the BandHub recording app on your computer.)
This is a great tool for teachers to give students individual assignments. Have them upload them to your collab on BandHub and voilà! Instant performance you can share with each other and on your social media networks. If you’re a teacher, why not reach out to another teacher in another state and get all your kids to do mash-ups of popular songs? There’s no end to your imagination and how you can use BandHub.
Endlesss — right now only available on iOS (it only launched on March 31), Endlesss lets you jam in real time — fast. Join a jam, start a jam — invite your bandmates, or open your jam to new players. Watch this video to see how easy it is to set up and get going. Free.
Serious Musician / Professional Tools for Making Money from Your Music
These tools are really designed for musicians who are serious about making a living from their music. These online services have a lot of tools to make producing music easier, more economical, and of very high quality. They all offer a free, entry-level version to give you a taste of how they work and give a lot of value. Ultimately though, if your goal is to become a true professional — from your musicianship, to original music you compose, to the quality of your performance and production and distribution — you’ll want to explore what these services can do for you and seek out referrals and reviews from fellow musicians who have used them before you commit any of your own hard-earned money.
Similar to ProCollabs, you can upload / store your music, collaborate with other musicians, and get feedback from its community, except Blend also has its own in-house music label, which you can choose to use for distributing and selling your music. They’ve got quite a large listener base and established artists use their services. In fact, the Berklee College of Music chose Blend to release its “Introduction to Ableton Live” course session on Coursera, which is free. Their Blend Market lets you buy or sell stems, sample packs, presets, lessons and other music bits. Blend also recently teamed up with ROLI, inventor of the Seaboard instrument.
As an online music collaboration service, this site aims to help music creators — whether songwriters, composers, musicians, audio engineers, and music producers — to come together to create new, original music. Although they don’t offer real-time performance collaboration or music creation tools, they do provide secure file uploading and sharing in a protected project environment to which you control access. They have a live chat feature (video and/or text) and provide digital audio protection. You can earn money as a session artist, or hire such artists for your project. They even provide copyright splitsheets for collaborators so when you’re ready to sell your work, those details are all worked out in advance of publication. They do have a music store where you can sell your work.
Owned by Spotify, this service lets you hire and work with the best of the best — Grammy award-winning mixing and mastering engineers, producers, singers, songwriters, session musicians (even violinists, violists, cellists, bassists, etc.) — so your original work “sounds better.” It starts with your posting and describing your job. You get a proposal back and decide yay or nay (proposal is free). Your payment isn’t released until you’ve approved the work. If you’re creating original music, and you want that extra edge to get you bookings for performances or to wow an agent or label, this just might be the answer for you.
Melboss offers a collaborative environments for working with professional musicians. Think of it as a LinkedIn aimed at professional musicians. While similar to Vampr, it goes one step further — into finding a mentor to help you grow as a musician and a businessperson. They provide marketing services such as branding, positioning, and digital marketing — a smorgasbord of marketing services to put you and your music in front of the audiences who want to hear your music.
Matches producers and singers together. If you’re looking for a singer to bring your music to the next level, this service may be right for you.
A Cautionary Note
Always, always, always, read through the terms and conditions for each of these services. Be sure that you understand them, before agreeing to them. And especially before you upload or create any of your content (new or not), or use any of their pre-provided music tracks / snippets / patterns, etc. The reason is that intellectual property, which is what your music compositions and performances are, is a very complex topic. The last thing you want to do is create something wonderful, only to discover you may have signed away your copyright ownership, even if only in part. Your work is your work. Protect it, and yourself, by ensuring you understand what you’re agreeing to.
In Closing - #MusicIsMyRefuge
Once you’ve done that, and found a service you like and trust — go for it! We’d love to hear what you’ve produced. Upload your work to your Facebook account with the hashtag #MusicIsMyRefuge. We’ll be looking out for your work and sharing it on StringOvation’s Facebook page, as well as our parent brand, Connolly Music, and sister brands - Revelle Strings and Magic Rosin. We’d love to give you access to our followers who are all string musicians — professionals and amateurs alike, and lovers of orchestral music.