As a producer you’re bound to find people that want a collaboration, specifically in EDM. People either:

     a. Want a collaboration with you.

Or

      b. You want a collaboration with them.

When going into these situations, it’s important to understand the proper approach for an EDM collaboration.

Too many collaborations have been spoiled right from the start because neither party prepared for the collaboration. A collaboration can be broken down into a 3-step process:

  1. Preparation
  2. Initiation
  3. Completion

Today, we’re going into the ins and outs of proper collaboration through a cooking analogy.

vegetable flat lay on slate countertop with tomato, bell pepper and potatoes

Preparation

If you’ve ever cooked in a restaurant then you’ll be pretty familiar with the steps we’re going to be talking about today. If you haven’t, then I’ll be explaining the process by which you should follow. Both when cooking in a restaurant, and cooking up some beats through an EDM collaboration.

As a cook, the key to a smooth night, is having what you need for each dish prepped, and even more importantly, having enough prepped.

The same goes for collaborating.

If you don’t have enough food prepped, you run out during dinner, and set yourself up for failure. Prep too much, and you’re wasting food.

Before you begin to talk to someone about an EDM collaboration, especially someone bigger than you, you need to have a track ready to share.

Now this isn’t the case EVERY time. Sometimes you’ll start talking to a producer and they mention a collab and want to work in person, in which case it’s usually easier to start from scratch.

What I’m talking about here is mostly geared toward interactions all online. Reach out to a producer who has a lot going on with nothing in mind, and it might put a bad taste in their mouth.

They could very well have a track established and ready to go, but you’re the one asking for a collaboration,  so you should have the track all ready to be collaborated on. How much of a track should you have ready? At least 2/3rds.

This gives plenty of wiggle room for the person you’re wanting to collaborate with to both tweak what you currently have, while also being able to add their own original content in the track.

Prep too much, a.k.a. have a finished track, and then they can’t do much but slap their name on it, and in any case they won’t want to because it doesn’t represent THEM.

Make sure you have a well thought out project that is prepped and ready to be worked on by another EDM producer!

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Initiation

Once your dinner items for the night have been prepped and your first customer comes in and orders, you then begin to initiate the process of cooking the actual meal. In the case of production, this would be reaching out to the producer you want to work with, and sending everything they need in order to finish the track.

This part can kind of blend with the preparation process.

The first step is to find a producer that works in the same genre as the track you are currently writing. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start the conversation.

If this producer is 20x bigger than you, it’s going to be a bit more difficult to get them on board, or even to start a conversation. I recommend you start off with a producer that has a little bit more success than you, until you get this process down.

As soon as you find them, try adding them on Facebook, or just follow their Instagram. Start liking their posts, commenting on stuff, and get conversations going. You want them to recognize your face and name, so once you slide in their DM’s, they won’t be as cautious in getting to know you a bit more.

I recommend working this process for 3 – 4 weeks, unless you already have an established relationship with this person. After that, take the conversation to a more direct level, their DM’s. Find similar interests, and work those angles to get to know the producer a bit more.

Once you’ve garnered the relationship for a couple weeks, send them the track that you’ve prepped and ask if they’d be interested in collaborating. Obviously this track needs to be as good, if not better than what they are currently putting out.

Set yourself up for success, not failure. If they agree, then it’s time to prep a little bit more for your EDM collaboration.

First, find out if you use the same DAW. If so, it’ll be easier to send them your project file, samples used in the project, and sounds as well. If not, you’ll need to find out exactly what wav files they want, what MIDI files they want, as well as sounds and samples.

Communication is KEY at this stage. You want to be professional,get them what they need, they way they want it, in one swift process. Organize your project if you haven’t already done so.

Specifically, name your instruments i.e. kick, snare, hi-hat, main lead, lead 2, main bassline, sub etc. DO NOT send them, “Serum_x_duplicat 2,” or, “Vengeance_sample_snare34.”

No one likes these, they are frustrating to work with, and it shows a lack of care in organizational skills. This can put a lot of people off, especially if they are organized.

Once your project is organized, you’re ready to either send them your project file with samples/sounds, or your wav files with MIDI and sounds. If you have to send them all wav files, be sure to also organize these in respected folders i.e. drums in the drums folder, leads in the leads folder, bass sounds in the bass folders, samples in the samples folder etc. ORGANIZATION + COMMUNICATION = SUCCESS.

Struggling with organization? Check out this episode of my podcast, Electronic Dance Money Epiosde 009 – How These 5 Time Management Tips Will Help You Finish More Tracks.

When you’re finished, zip the folder up, upload to Dropbox, or your file hosting service of choice, and send it over to your new collaboration partner! They will be thoroughly impressed with how well thought out your process and organization is, making it 100x easier for them to work on the project, and even more so, to work with you.

Charismatic disc jockey at the turntable. DJ plays on the best, famous CD players at nightclub during party. EDM, party concept.

Completion

Alright, so you’ve prepped your meal (have track 2/3rds done for collaboration), initiated the cooking of the meal (started the process of connecting with your collaborator, and send them your track), so what’s the last step? Sending your food out to your customer (releasing your track to both of your fans)!

Just like the previous step, initiation, this one will really show your collaborator what kind of work ethic you have.

It’s important to work as a team when it comes to the release, teach each other new things, and be open to learning.

You just never know when you will be taught a vital lesson, no matter how big or small, when it comes to releasing/promotion. We’ve already tackled most of what is needed when it comes to promotion in the Artist Marketing post, so I won’t beat a dead horse.

The key  to the completion step is all about working together and putting the right promo plan in place. Decide if you want to put a budget together for ads, a music video, lyric videos etc. You just need to establish who is going to work on each project, and then commit and execute.

Decide how you’ll promote, and who will be submitting to blogs, playlists, record labels etc. Again communication is key in this stage of an EDM collaboration.

Conclusion

When you approach a collaboration, do it with respect for the other producer, and respect for your character/image. You want the other person to leave thinking, “That was so smooth, we got a great track, and an even better response from fans!” Having those words spread around the scene will send you further than you can imagine.