Internet Bands: How to Record Around the World

Internet Bands: How to Record Around the World

The Web has changed not only music commerce, but music creation and production as well. The pairing of broadband lines and computer-based recording has made for the very real and very exciting capability to record with musicians from around the globe and even form so-called Internet bands. The concept is simple and really easy to launch on your own.

To build a band, you first need to find other musicians who want to collaborate on a recording, and a good place to start is in music chat rooms. You could post a request and see if any of the respondents share your goals, and then see if they have audio samples to share. If you like what you hear, you’ve got your band started. Another option is to check out musician pages on social networking sites, and then ping a player you like to see if he/she is open to working together.

Next, everyone who participates should have a high-speed connection plus some way of digitally recording and exporting audio. They don’t have to be wired like Real World Studios, but they need a computer running some kind of sequencer/recorder (Garageband, Live, Sonar, Pro Tools, Logic,  etc). Whatever the system, make sure you can import and export compatible file types (wav, aiff).

Here’s a basic scenario: Musician #1 will start a song, laying down a drum-loop beat and a rhythm guitar part. Once that’s mixed down to an MP3 file, it can be emailed to Musician #2. That player imports the MP3 into his DAW and then records a new part on a separate track (without mixing in the loop and guitar). Once completed, Musician #2 exports his new track to a file and mails it back to Musician #1, who imports it into the master session. When files are really big, you might need to swap them using a content-delivery service (yousendit, MegaUpload) in place of email. 

After you get the hang of that basic process, you can start exchanging files with any musician in the band or recording project. Today, lots of bands are cutting complete albums using this exact method. Some players are even using sophisticated VNC programs to control the mice on each other’s computers, allowing for collaboration on a mix. Better still, these two musicians can talk to each other during mixdown using Skype.

Whether you want to form a full-blown band or just find someone to fly in a keyboard part, you can find a ton of musicians who make their services available online with a simple search. Clearly, there are some great creative possibilities that a few years ago were only a dream. You could start a band right now from where you’re sitting.

— Pete Prown

Guitarist/Writer Pete Prown has written hundreds of guitar articles and is a contributing editor at Vintage Guitar magazine. Pete’s latest CD release, Sir Clive and the Raging Cartographers, is a manic chunk of guitar-fired surf and psychedelia.