Artist collaboration is a great way of expanding your musical horizons and bringing diversity into your repertoire. It's also true that a good collaboration between two recording artists can be beneficial to both parties and increase crossover fans from both entities. But before you want to enquire about a collaboration with an artist there are a good few points you may want to consider.
1. Make sure you have a plan.
So you have identified an artist or band that you would like to work with, the first thing you need to do is have a clear goal of what you want to achieve before you make first contact, at least from your side of the collaboration. Explain what exactly you will be contributing, whether that is vocals, lyrics, guitar, video, production and you are bringing some added value to the table. E.g A collaboration where you bring a different instrument or unique idea that the other artist hasn't done before will be much more interesting than trying to do a collaboration that shares the same skills as the other artist.
2. Have something to show them.
Occasionally I am very flattered that I have artists who are starting out asking if they can record a song with me, and when I ask to see their previous work or biography, the majority don't have anything to show me. A typical response I get is "I'm going to be recording soon", or "I have some singing to backing tracks" Neither of these answers encourage me to want to work with them. I want to see more than just evidence that they can sing. I want to see an online presence, evidence of gigs, a buzz about them. Unfortunately there are a few people that see collaboration as a springboard to launch their career, the recipient can see through this straight away. Don't be disappointed if you are declined or don't get a a response if you are chasing a dream without having any credentials of your own, my advice is to build up a small following first before you do ask people to collaborate.
3. Don't assume that everybody wants to work with another artist.
So you have recorded an album, you have got all your press releases sorted, website up to date and you are confident enough to ask another artist to work with you. More likely than not you will be met with rejection. The reason why is that not everyone wants to share their creative content with another artist, especially solo artists. The hint is that they are the only person in their band and this is usually a choice :). I've made this mistake myself in the past, especially with friends who I know well and try to push myself into working with them, don't take it personally just because someone is a great friend doesn't mean they will automatically work with you. It's nicer to offer an invitation than to storm in and be pushy, assuming that they will jump at the chance of working with you.
4. Work out the logistics before deciding to collaborate.
So you decide that you want to work with another artist and record a single or music video together, the problem is that you live at opposite sides of the country. Yes, there are ways of recording now via online collaboration and if that is suitable for what you are doing then go ahead. Certain situations like recording live music together or doing gigs together require you to be actually there in person, the distance between the artists will be a big factor on how successful it is or people cancelling on you. When asking to work with someone, don't assume that they have all the equipment to record with and have all the contacts, show initiative with having your own contacts and distribution channels and you are more likely to make a marriage of two artists happen.
5. The right time and place to ask an artist.
I would avoid proposing to an artist that you want to work with them just after they have performed a gig. It puts them in a very awkward position. Leave them a CD by all means and introduce yourself, but don't make any propositions at the gig. The same thing would not be to ask them in a public forum such as a Facebook wall. Find out their email address and send them a polite and informative email. This gives the artist chance to weigh up the pros and cons about the project that they might be undertaking, it might be a no brainer to you that you want to work with an artist who has just packed out a venue, but their idea might be slightly different.
I'm open to the idea of working with other artists so if you would like to collaborate with me, feel free to Email me with an idea.
My latest E.P involved collaboration with Edwina Hayes providing backing vocals, and Tattoo artist Jan Moat for my Artwork. You can stream and purchase it here: Painted By Numbers 2011