Musical Dating, Networking & Collaborating in the Age of the Machines
By all definitions, Jack White collaborates a lot. At least more than the average musician. That’s why when I said collaborations, his name popped up into my mind. Most of his projects are collaborations, and whether they are your cup of tea or not, you have to admit that there are sparks and indisputable quality throughout all of them.
After all, I’m talking about a joint intellectual effort that takes people out of their cocoon and allows inspiration to shoot up. Sharing the stage or the studio can be a recipe for greatness, can resurrect a career, advance it, or even start one, but it can also be a recipe for disaster. Not everything is game-changing. Probably because chemistry is key. But before talking about chemistry, you need to show your face to the world, schmooze around, make yourself available.
Worry not, I’m not here to state the obvious, just to point fingers. You make and play music, but waiting by the phone with all your works nicely wrapped is not enough. You need to do more. Be ready to create, but also to shake hands, to download, to upload, to smile nicely and impress deeply.And I’m not talking now to the overactive “beast”, spreading its musical kingdom through real and virtual territories. I’m talking to the other just as talented… extreme, innocent and lost, not knowing how to start and where to go.
Mutual admiration society
Start by expressing your love for those who inspire you! Collaboration does not happen only between musicians. Writers and actors – to name just a few – are usually ready to change their plans and hang out creatively with musicians they admire.
Take Kurt Cobain and William S. Burroughs. They recorded a Christmas album together. That was chemistry. Of course, Burroughs had always been close to musicians. Tom Waits, David Bowie and Laurie Anderson were his mates too. Now take Allen Ginsberg. He went to see The Clash performing live in New York. Strummer found out and invited him on stage. See, it works. As long as you go to the right concerts. Nick Hornby didn’t even have to go to a concert. He just wrote an essay about a Ben Folds song. And so, another collaboration was born.
Tip: You’ll never know until you try.
Especially those that mean the world to you. Take Tom Morello. In 1997, Morello and his band, Rage Against the Machine, covered Bruce Springsteen’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad”. In 2009, The Boss asked Morello to come on stage to perform the song together. This was not a one off. I bet it was not just because he knew the lyrics.There you have it, cover someone’s song and you might end up on the same stage. Sometimes it’s even better than a proper collaboration.
Tip: Cover, don’t copy.
Mingle @ Award ceremonies
They are useful extensions of the ‘mutual admiration society’, great places to hang out mainly with musicians, whether your idols, your generation or the future generations. A lot of it is just showing up. Literally. Don’t think twice when you get an invitation to such an event. No matter how lame it might sound, sometimes just being nominated is rewarding in many hidden ways. Remember 1993, MTV Awards? Neil Young shows up after Pearl Jam performed “Animal” and there you have it, another legendary collaboration was born. That’s just one example, but Tom Petty and Eddie Vedder, Elton John and Guns ‘N Roses, plus scores of other musicians have stories too.
Tip: Some awards come with cash. There’s nothing wrong with making extra dough.
However, never forget that collaborations start… young. By definition, any band started as one.Or several. And nowadays they come in even more forms and shapes. Usually e-shapes.
Back to the future: Share, brag and share some more
It’s a fact that these days you’ve got even tools to spice things up. It’s not just covers, awardsand cool hip and happening outsiders. What’s intriguing, but no longer surprising, are the increasing number of platforms where musicians can display their portfolio, sell their music,find collaborators, from songwriters to drummers and whatever crosses your tunes-saturated mind.
When it comes to the online, where do musicians meet other musicians? Find jobs or brag about their achievements? Because from where I’m sitting, the present and the future sound and look good for those who want to share and get together in a civilized, organized, ‘virtual’ manner. This myriad of platforms does not replace anything. They are not-that-distant cousins of the ‘let’s go for a beer’. They just add to those brief or accidental encounters. You know, the stuff legends are made of.
Take me where musicians are
Be an online bragger! Not in a nasty, but nice way. The online is pretty good at being everywhere without the nagging part attached to it. You know, you can always switch it off. These platforms are not just for collaborations. They can find you work, projects and fans. Before you recreate a Run DMC – Aerosmith alliance, walk this waaay!