June 11, 2020

About the Author: Stefan Joubert

Stefan Joubert
Stefan Joubert is the manager of the London Singing Institute. He is passionate about helping adults find their voice. He truly believes that no one is too old or not talented enough to start singing. To drastically improve your voice with some of London's most outstanding vocal coaches, contact Stefan at enrol@londonsinginginstitute.co.uk

In light of recent events, many of us are seeking ways to stay connected to our audiences and clients from our homes, while maintaining a steady income. Because of this, livestream usage has grown by 70% in the last few weeks on Instagram alone. Online streaming and virtual work environments could be useful ways to ensure your fans stay in touch with you and your clients can keep using your services. Although some feel forced into seeking out remote collaboration tools, they could lead to positive experiences, such as accessing a larger talent pool and customer base. Depending on your career, your unique virtual work environment will have different considerations, so we will explore exactly how remote collaboration affects musicians from key backgrounds.

Music teacher

A 2018 study compared online teaching with face to face lessons to identify the pros and cons of each. The motivation behind it was to see how offering online lessons can provide access to music education for pupils in rural areas who may otherwise miss out on them. Another key consideration was the amount of time and money educators spent travelling, therefore, online teaching could help them save some funds and, potentially, allow them to take on more students. While face to face lessons were preferred by both children and parents, researchers found that key segments of a lesson were largely unchanged remotely such as the amount of teacher talk, feedback and practice. The main issues teachers highlighted was they felt it was difficult to communicate and explain things to the student and some encountered technical issues. They were also less inclined to accompany the pupils due to video and audio latency. While these considerations are perfectly valid, the experiment found the overall response to online lessons was positive and 65.9% of the children as well as 46.3% of the parents wanted the classes to continue. If you’re looking to divert your students towards online lessons, make sure you have everything you need such as a good internet connection, camera and audio set up so they don’t need to compromise on the sound or video quality. A good network connection will also reduce latency. While you may not feel comfortable accompanying them, it could be worth pre-recording some backing tracks and sending them over to your student. It’s even better if they have access to a DAW, so you could send them some MIDI files in advance, and they can alter the tonality or tempo as they learn. Make sure that both of you are positioned at a good angle so you can see each other and the instrument as that will simulate the feeling of copresence.

Mixing/mastering engineer

Mixing and mastering engineers will often work alone from their studio, thanks to the increased internet bandwidth that allows sharing of large files such as multi-tracks and WAV format. It’s likely that many of them already applied this approach even before they had to work from home. As a remote mixing or mastering engineer it’s of utmost importance that you display credibility and have the necessary equipment and expertise to complete the project. Building a good working relationship with your clients is equally as important, however, you can already do that via video conferencing tools such as Skype or Zoom. Having said that, bands and musicians may often want different versions of the mix/master and they frequently wish to make some tweaks. One of the ways you can improve this process is by looking into remote collaboration tools that allow them to see and hear what you’re doing and communicate any changes in real-time. For example, you could try the Audiomovers’ ‘Listento’ plug-in that can be used very effectively in conjunction with Zoom. In our next blog we will talk all about remote collaboration options and how they can help so stay tuned!

Music producer/songwriter

Although music producers and songwriters could collaborate with others simply via filesharing and conference calls, it could really affect the flow of the project. This way of working may interrupt the creativity that sparks as you come up with ideas together and improve on each other’s suggestions. Sending files back and forth could also result in quite a disjointed piece of music as each musician or producer would be completing large amounts of work at one given time, which compromises the seamless integration of both of your styles into one song. So, what could be the potential solution to this? Look into using a cloud-based software, such as Ohm Studio among many others. These platforms allow you to collaborate in real-time on a shared project that will help boost your creativity and enhance the feeling of working together. Of course, some of these may not be your preferred choices of software, but once you’ve done a session you can simply export the files into another platform. Some cloud-based DAWs also have a chat feature, however, you could even video call at the same time!

Singer/instrumentalist

Not being able to get to rehearsals or perform in front of an audience is a tough adjustment for most vocalists and musicians. While you could easily livestream from the comfort of your own home to, potentially, millions on social media, playing live and remote with other musicians could be a bit trickier. One of the key considerations for that is latency. A study observing musicians during remote performances found that an acceptable level of latency is around 15-30ms, however, even 40ms could be manageable but may pose some issues for percussionists. When you’re looking into remote collaboration tools, make sure that you’re able to adjust the latency and, if possible, sync audio with video to prevent any miscommunication as you play. Remember that a good eye contact and good sound are important in person as they are online, so while you don’t need 4k video streaming, make sure you have a clear picture of each other. It may be worth investing in some microphones and audio equipment for your home studio set up if you don’t have any and research how to use them to provide your band members and colleagues with the best possible sound. If you struggle getting used to playing remotely, give yourself some time to work through it and adapt to a new environment. We doubt you’ll prefer virtual practice to seeing your bandmates in real life, but this is certainly worth exploring so you can still stay in touch and regain some sense of normality. Don’t forget to communicate with each other as you would if you were together and let yourself have some fun as you all explore a brand-new working environment!

Conclusion

It isn’t always easy to keep going in the face of uncertainty but being adaptable and innovative is exactly what makes you stand out as a musician or creative! So, give a virtual environment a go, you may just surprise yourself by finding other people to collaborate with, attracting a new audience or simply staying in touch with your favourite colleagues and clients during these times. To help you pick the best way to do this, our next article will be all about remote collaboration tools for music professionals. Until then, we hope you’re staying safe and well!

Tags: Remote concerts, Remote rehearsals, Remote musicianship

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Tags: Remote concerts, Remote rehearsals, Remote musicianship