15 Best Remote Music Collaboration Tools: Long Distance Beat Building
In the age of quarantine and the anti-social social club, remote music collaboration is more essential than ever. However, it can be tricky to get your hands on the right tool to seamlessly connect your DAW with someone else’s across the country.
Thankfully, we’ve come up with a comprehensive list of some of the best remote music making tools available. We’ve focused our attention on real-time collaboration tools, but we’ll also share a couple of other options to cater to your unique process. Let’s jump right in!
How Can You Collaborate As A Musician Remotely?
“Collaboration” can mean a lot of things in the world of music. Here are a few ways you might use a remote production collaboration tool in your workflow with another musician.
Remote Sessions: Whether you’re running a session for a client, or building a beat with a fellow musician, these tools make it possible for you to run a session as if you were both there in person within your DAW. This way, you can hear audio changes in real time, discuss strategy, and collectively make changes to a session.
File Sharing: Simple file sharing back and forth can provide a seamless way for producers to collaborate back and forth, on their own time. However, this may not be the best collaboration method for musicians who prefer having someone on call to keep them inspired and accountable on the track.
Duet Style: Collaboration over social media doesn’t necessarily require two sides. As long as you’re within copyright guidelines and don’t formally release a track without the owner’s permission, you’re able to build off of another artist’s work and create connections online.
Finding Skilled Accompaniment: If you’re seeking an instrumentalist to provide you with live tracks, or just a more intricate section than what you can create digitally, using a remote collaboration job board can help you source the right fit for your song.
Best Tools For Remote Music Collaboration
Since there are so many ways to collaborate, we’ve broken down this piece into three main categories: 1) Real-time session collaboration (our main focus) 2) Audio file sharing tools and 3) General mobile connection and collaboration tools:
Avid Cloud Collaboration
With the wide variety of tools available, it’s worth trying out more than just one, especially since a lot of these are entirely free. Here’s what you can expect from these helpful tools:
Real-Time Session Collaboration
These tools are designed to connect your DAW with another person or two DAWs simultaneously for real-time collaboration.
Audio Movers: $3.99/Week or $9.99/Month
Audio Movers serves as a remote plugin tool that's ideal for collaboration with a client, singer, lyricist. This plugin set sits on your master channel and sends out high resolution audio with low latency to your collaborator all through a unique link.
I've personally used this service with remote clients and it works great! I especially love that you can sign up week by week---- That way you're only paying the minimal fee during your weeks with remote sessions. It's worth noting that you'll still need to share video through another external service, but this is one of the best ways to stream your DAW without hogging CPU.
Satellite Sessions: $10/Month
Want to collaborate with someone who uses a different DAW? Satellite Sessions plugins makes it easy for you to share individual multitracks and stems in real-time with multiple collaborators at once. Simply place the sessions plugin on the audio tracks you want to capture, and the interface will copy the stems so that other musicians can listen, copy, paste, and edit what you've created utilizing the unique session ID.
It's currently compatible with Ableton, Logic, FL Studio, Cubase, Studio One, and Pro Tools.
LANDR Sessions: Free to $50/Year
LANDR provides many things, though its most known for its AI-driven mastering service. They also provide a sessions service dubbed as "video chat for musicians". Essentially, it's Zoom without the needless compression of audio. The tool comes with a plugin for streaming audio and is compatible with all major DAWs. There's also a free version, so definitely check this out!
Zoom: Free to $19.99/Month
It's worth mentioning Zoom, since you can certainly rig up audio streaming from your DAW using a tool like Audiomovers. Some ways to improve Zoom using its embedded controls include enabling original sound and direct file transfer. It's also just a great tool for discussing planned releases with other musicians.
Avid Cloud Collaboration: $4.99 to $29.99/Month
If you and your collaborator are using Pro Tools, then Avid Cloud Collaboration may be your best bet. The interface allows you to see changes on either producer's side in real time, and has a messaging feature for quick feedback. You can pair this service with a video chat like Zoom or use it on its own for a less chatty session.
Bandlab is a free DAW that's available on iOS and desktop that also hosts live sessions. You can invite anyone on the platform to create with you in real time, with changes constantly being saved and reflected in the DAW. You can also open up your beats to collaborate and duet with others offline as an additional connection tool.
Jamkazam: Free or $19.99/Month
Jamkazam provides an online rehearsal space for bands and even opens up the door for creating your own ticketed, remote concerts. This is more of a tool for instrumentalists rather than producers, but it's worth trying if you want to start by creating a song with physical instruments first. You can also find "public sessions" to start playing with someone new on the platform, so it's a great networking tool as well.
Ableton Link: Free
Ableton heads can get a hold of Ableton Link for free, which allows you to produce over the same local network using any of link's compatible tools. You won't be able to produce across the country with this one, but it's great for groups with multiple producers and makes a powerful rehearsal tool for bands.
File Sharing Tools
These tools store audio files so that you can swap samples and multitracks without issue.
Pibox: Free to $20.00/Month
Pibox is file sharing specifically for creatives. The interface allows you to leave feedback on certain sections of songs, review audio and video files, and chat with a whole team all within a single interface. You can also organize files in certain phases so that you can easily track you journey from demo to mastered track.
Google Drive: Free to $9.99/Month
Google Drive offers pretty reasonable rates for file and stem sharing, allowing you to get started with a free plan. Private links make it easy for you to keep your collaborations confidential while your hit is still in works.
Dropbox: Free to $16.99/Month
Another great option for file sharing, Dropbox provides file sharing, transfers and file recovery for up to 30 days. Family plans can support up to 6 users, so it's a cheap split if your band or a small collective are utilizing the data sharing service.
Connection and Collaboration Tools
You might not create a collaborative track ready for official release with these tools alone, but they can certainly be helpful throughout the process.
Soundtrap: $7.99 to $12.99/Month
Soundtrap, owned by Spotify, is a mobile collaboration interface that allows you to sync audio recordings with other collaborators making it easy for you to pass around ideas. The app also acts as a DAW and provides loops, presets, and samples for you and your bandmates to outline your demos with ease.
Endless is a pocket studio, allowing you to create drums, audio recordings, sample flips, and more all within its mobile and desktop interfaces. Any endless session can also be opened by another collaborator--- create the drums on your phone, and then send it off to your producer to mix it into the beat. Pretty sweet right?
Social media is great for networking and collaborating with other musicians, though Tiktok stands out for its sheer power of influence over the music industry and focus around sound. You can easily utilize the app's duet feature to connect with new artists and sounds on a daily basis.
Blend IO: Free
Blend IO is a free music community that allows you to seek collaboration online from other artists, share session files, and showcase your latest beats. You can also backup your projects from most DAWs directly into Blend for safe keeping.
As you can see, there are more ways than ever to make music with just about anyone! At Controlla, we're all about embracing new music tech, so be sure to try some of these tools out and let us know how it goes. Have fun collaborating!