I tend to write and produce my music solo, as evidenced by 2 albums, 3 EPs, and multiple singles I’ve released over the last nine years.
However, I am a huge proponent of collaboration.
1. Tapping into different skills and sharing ideas
2. Increasing Productivity
3. Learning New Techniques
4. Receive Helpful Feedback and Constructive Criticism
5. Expand Your Network and Fanbase
I haven’t done a lot of it… but collaborating with others over the years has resulted in music I could’ve never created on my own:
While working on the final project for my Producing Recorded Music class (which is a whole story in and of itself), my buddy Stephanie wrote lyrics to a track I had done a couple of years prior. I produced a live recording of “Destiny” with session musicians a few weeks later, and got an A for it.
A year later I took the original track, put Stephanie’s vocals on it, and then brought in my cousin Rico (of Sidewalk Chalk) to drop a couple of verses. Almost 20 years later, I’m still proud of both versions of that record, which never would’ve come to pass had I tried to do it all myself.
I met my buddy Mike at a music conference, and we linked up a few weeks later to potentially collaborate. I played him the first track, and after a few seconds he sang a full song to it in my face. I later learned he’d written “Into Wishin” to another track the year prior, and we recorded our version shortly thereafter. Then I vocal produced “Elevator Music” for him, and wrote music underneath his existing lyrics for “Stargazer Lily“.
Working with Mike challenged every single area of my creativity, and I grew so much as a songwriter, producer, and vocal producer because of it. My favorite moment during this time was producing and cowriting “Sleep On Valentines” under Mike’s lyrics. He brought in Nayanna for the duet, who proceeded to record her entire lead vocal in one take.
My friend/brother RJ and our friend Komica were co-producing a bunch of tunes together, and they brought me in to potentially write/record one. This was in the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” era of 2015, when racial tensions were high and we wanted a song that reflected our feelings on the matter. I wrote and recorded lyrics to reflect the times, then sent them over.
We forgot about it until 2020, when George Floyd was murdered. They dusted off the track, tuned up my 5-year-old vocals, Komica threw in some of her own, and we put out “Honest“. In hindsight, I wish we’d have gotten a rock vocalist (instead of my crooner-type tone) but I stand 100% behind the lyrics and melody.
My buddy/coworker Nik mentioned he wanted to find a song that I could jump on as a featured vocalist. As someone who considers himself a songwriter who sometimes sings, this was an honor.
A year later, he sent me the demo and instrumental for “Pray For Me“. I recorded my vocals at home, then sent him the unmixed vocal stems. He then recorded his backgrounds based on mine, and his producing partner mixed and mastered it all. This one was a challenge in letting go of control because I didn’t write it or produce it. But it ended up being a pretty cool tune.
Moral Of The Story
We each have our individual talents and prospective on life, which are valid and needed in their own right. However, combining efforts with someone else with a completely different lived experience can only multiply the possibilities.
Collaborating with people who strive for excellence will force you to either match/exceed that same energy or fail miserably. I’m forever thankful for the collaborations I’ve had over the years, as I would’ve never grown as much as I have without them.
Collaboration isn’t just a means to work together towards a common goal. It’s also an excellent way to encourage innovation and creativity. When individuals with a diverse range of skills and backgrounds come together, it leads to the exchange of unique perspectives and ideas. This can result in more innovative solutions and creative problem-solving that may not have been possible with just one person working on the task. (Jostle)