How to harness the Internet to help your career
eSession’s Online Collaboration
What happened to the years when I would pack up my Martin acoustic, fly to Nashville and go from writer to writer with my micro cassette in pocket? And what happened to the years when I would rent a studio and hire the players and we would spend a day recording songs all together in one room?
Well, the industry changed and the budgets dropped and it became no longer feasible for me to keep paying for studio fees, plane tickets, hotels, etc. I wondered, what if I could get the exact results or better, spend less, and still create great music? What if I stopped relying on other people and other studios to record my work professionally? What if I invested a small amount of money, for a one time purchase, that would allow me to put together a home studio and start using the Internet to collaborate, produce, hire musicians and even get my work released and licensed?
My curiosity actually became a company called eSession.com that I spent the last three years developing and launching with my partner, Grammy-winning producer and engineer Kevin Killen. And I am proud to say that eSession is the engine behind ASCAP’s new Collaborator Corner 2.0. Now with a small home studio and eSession, songwriters can save countless amounts of money and time while creating world-class music without leaving home.
I know that so many of you are intimidated by technology and think you have to be an MIT graduate to set-up a home studio, record your own music and collaborate over the Internet. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not true and if you can put your clothes in a washing machine and know what temperature and cycle to choose, then you are beyond capable of using today’s technology. Didn’t some of your household appliances also look a bit intimidating at one time in your life? Think of digital recording and collaboration as the exact same thing and bite the bullet and just do it. It will change your life and I am not exaggerating.
A small home recording set-up combined with a high speed Internet connection will take your music and your career farther than you could ever imagine.
For those without home studios, I have helped put together hundreds of songwriter studios and my personal advice would be to get a Macbook laptop ($1299) and a Digidesign Pro Tools Personal Studio ($495). This small bundle gives you a great, easy-to-use computer, a Pro Tools interface to record with, the software you need, speakers and a microphone. The only other thing you would need is an external hard drive to record all of your music onto and some headphones. So, for a one-time investment of around $2,000, you could have an incredible, portable studio.
It’s been my personal mission in my career to help songwriters move into the digital age without the intimidation factor of technology. I wrote a book for Peachpit Press called Pro Tools for Musicians and Songwriters that explains how to use all of this stuff without knowing anything at all about computers or recording. I am proud to say that my book just went into a 2nd printing and is the #1 selling audio book at Amazon.com. I don’t mean to be plugging my book, I simply want you guys to know that it is possible to learn this stuff without wanting to take a sledgehammer to the computer.
Lets start slowly just by looking at the new Collaborator Corner 2.0 and I’ll show you how simple it is to find collaborators. In each Playback issue, I’ll be running this column and will keep teaching you more and more about how to use the Internet to collaborate. I will also be posting these articles online. I’ve created a new blog for answering any questions you may have. The Digital Songwriter blog is at DigitalSongwriter.blogspot.com. So, get in front of your computer and follow these simple instructions:
1 Go to ASCAP.com and you’ll see the eSession Collaborator Corner 2.0 button. This button takes you to another page that tells you more about eSession. From this page click on the blue button on the right that says Search for Talent. This takes you to eSession’s talent search engine. FYI - eSession has over 6,000 members and 1,000 of those are top session musicians, engineers and producers. We have musicians who record with Sting, John Mayer, Faith Hill, David Bowie, etc. Let me show you how to find people.
2 In the Search Fields of eSession, choose these Search Parameters:
“I am looking for: Musician”
Now choose, “Whose expertise is: Strings”
“Whose instrument or Status is: Cello”
“Who specializes in: Country”
“Who has worked with: Madonna”
“Whose minimum rate is less than: $250.00”
Check “Only Show:”
“Pros with 15 + major label credits”
and also check “Profiles with Audio Samples”
The more you filter your search criteria, the fewer search results you get. This search shows you Stevie Blacke, an incredibly creative and versatile string player and arranger, and a multi-instrumentalist who layers violin, cello and viola from his own studio. You can see that Stevie has worked with everyone from Madonna to Beck to Timbaland.
You should notice from this page that you can hire Stevie or send any professional eTalent member what we call a Mentor Request that allows you to contact our professional database for industry advice, mentoring or even real-time music lessons. eSession allows you to search for songwriters, musicians, engineers and producers.
Everyone on eSession is working in their own studios saving you time and money. The site handles all of the communication, negotiation, financial transactions, file transfers and even real-time collaboration with our Virtual Glass™ plug-in.
ASCAP members receive 1GB of Song Storage Space and FREE access to our professional talent database which costs regular members $25 per Work Request.
3 It’s easy to sign-up, just go to eSession.com and click on the Sign-up Free button or the Sign-up link at the top right. You will need your ASCAP member number in order to receive the special discounts. After you sign up, you’re taken to the eSession Dashboard. The first thing you’ll want to do is create and edit a profile. There is a large button in the Dashboard called “Tweak Your Profiles.” Click on that to get started. If you chose a Primary Profile in Sign-up, you will want to click the tiny EDIT button to the right of your profile.
I am happy to answer any questions you may have at the Digital Songwriter Blog.