Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Electronic Music Collaboration Via The Internet

One of the greatest things to arise from the advancement of the Internet in recent years is the ability to compose and produce music with collaborators no matter where they are located in the world. Musical collaborators can be found via the Internet and digital audio files can be instantaneously exchanged between composers and producers with ease.  With this blog, I hope to provide you with some inspiration for doing Internet collaboration by sharing some of my experiences with it.

I’m currently producing an album with my Electronic band called EchoHALO. Our vocalist, Tresza, lives in the Midwest while I live in the Pacific Northwest.  We each have our own project studios and digital work stations (DAWs). Tresza and I have adopted a simple process for producing an album together. The steps of our process are as follows:
  1.  I compose and record instrumental tracks in my studio on my DAW (Steinberg Cubase 5 for PC).
  2.  I mix down a given song to 16 bit (44.1khz) stereo and then send the file to Tresza via a file transfer service (we use either or
  3.  Tresza imports the stereo file into her Apple Mac based DAW, she then writes lyrics and records individual vocals tracks on her DAW.
  4. Tresza then creates stem files (individual audio tracks with the same beginning at a zero starting point) so that I can open them all up in my DAW in the correct arrangement in time. She records the stem files in .wav format (typically stereo 16 bit 44.1khz) so that the audio is cross compatible with my PC based DAW software. Tresza also creates a stereo mix down version with effects (such as reverb, stereo delay, etc.) so that I can get an understanding of what she has in mind for vocal effects.
  5.  I then mix and master with her dry no effect version stem files and add desired signal processing effects such as compression and EQ. Tresza will also send me alternate takes (stem files and stereo mixdown versions) so that I can compare (comp) and select the best performance.
  6.  I’ll send Tresza a premastered mixdown version for her approval.
The process works great! The only drawback that I have experienced is that, as a producer, I’d prefer to be in the room with her to discuss the actual vocal performance. That is, how we might take alternate takes on the spot or decide together on a particular style for the musical performance.

Another way to collaborate is to send DAW project files to collaborators who are using the same DAW software. Audio, midi, plug-in effects parameters, fades, arrangements and other information can be embedded in DAW project files so if compatible software is used, the files can be opened within each collaborator’s DAW software. 

I have also done a similar process when doing remix work. For example, I produced a remix for the band Halo Effect a couple years ago. The band sent me the stem files for each track and I then reassembled them, added new sections of synthesizers that I recorded in my studio, replaced the snare drum track, kicked up the kick drum, and re-arranged the entire track to make it a bit longer. This was a lot of fun to do!
As a producer and audio engineer for Wayfarer Records, I receive unmastered audio files from our signed artists around the world. We typically master with 16bit 44.1khz wav format. Sometimes I will ask the artists to send me stem files so that I can EQ or add compression to particular tracks before mastering as a stereo file.

You might be interested in a number of services out there to help facilitate Internet based sharing of music composition/production. Some of these include the longstanding acidplanet ( and the popular soundcloud (  These are great sites to make your tracks available for immediate download, editing, and then upload to share.

If you are looking for other musicians to collaborate with, I invite you to check out the Facebook page Ambient Hub . The intent of Ambient Hub is to foster an international community of Ambient music composers, musicians, producers, record labels, and fans. Artists are encouraged to post links to their music (i.e. Sound Cloud, YouTube, etc.) to share with the group.

I’d like to learn more about what processes you have found useful for collaborating with other artists via the Internet. I hope that you will share!

Keep up with my latest musical updates on my Facebook page.