June 06, 2022

Time was, if a band member moved, that was the end of the band. Serious acts might replace that member, and of course there are plenty of famous examples, but even then, things just aren’t the same. Then again, people moved around less (maybe). Now, the idea of keeping a solid group together for the long haul seems almost impossible. People move around all the time, and many successful live acts keep going by replacing or rotating pieces.

But sometimes there’s just a magic with certain people that can’t be replicated, especially when it comes to writing and recording. Luckily, collaboration over long distances is not only possible now, but realistic and sometimes even preferable. Here are a few tips for making the most out of collaborating with a long-distance bandmate.

Communicate

Since you don’t practice in the same room and don’t see each other around town, you’ll need to communicate more to keep things together. You can use a healthy dose of texting, calling, email, and Zoom to keep talking and generating ideas. By the same token, communicating more clearly and completely is necessary when ironing out details on songs and with business. Since there’s no body language to go on, you can’t leave things unspoken, lest a lot of misunderstandings pop up.

Generate

If you want to keep a long-distance player involved, you’ll have to work harder to make sure they’re included. For example, if you’re the producer or head writer, make it a point to create tracks specifically for collaboration with your far-away member, or set up regular writing meetings to get ideas.

Practice

It’s possible to practice from a distance now via the internet. You can easily use Skype or Zoom to do writing and production meetings, and even to share riffs or feedback on solo performance. To jam in real time together, you’ll need software with less delay, two-way communication, and higher sound quality. Packages like Sofasession, JamLink, or Jammr provide this functionality. This technology is relatively new and there can be some learning curve to get it right, but it’s fruitful once you get there.

Travel

Having a band member living elsewhere could be a blessing in disguise. Now you’ve got a member making connections in a whole new market. So, when it comes time to tour, you know exactly where you’re going first. And if you land the right gig, you can build in travel funding for your bandmate to come to you.

Record Remotely

When it’s time to make a new record, collaborating with your long-distance partner is not only doable, it’s quickly becoming the norm. Sometimes, even local collaborators record their parts in their own specialized studio and share the tracks via file sharing platforms like Dropbox or Google Drive. So even if your band member is replaced for live shows, there’s no reason you can’t continue to work together in the studio.

 

Nothing can replace being in the room with three or four likeminded musicians and creating right here, right now. So, it’ll always be choice number 1 to stick together if possible. But when life throws you a curve ball like an opportunity you can’t refuse, you don’t need to call it quits on each other. You just need to work at maintaining that relationship.




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