Collaborations between musicians have always existed: Musicians with sings, composers with lyricists, singers and rappers and even collaborations between a couple of singers or musicians. It’s always an enriching expirience to collaborate with other professionals in the music, since it allows us to learn from each other.

However, just like in every other field in the music industry, there are some things you should have in mind when entering into a collaboration, so the result is not only a beautiful song, but also a great experience for both parties.

Today we’re gonna talk about the different aspects of collaborations. Just as an example: If you collaborate on somebody’s album as a composer or lyricist, or as a singer, what are you entitled to? Should you charge? What is somebody else is participating in YOUR album?

Also, we should think twice about who’s going to collaborate with us, if he or she fits in our mind set, if he or she is the right person, if it’s worth to invest in this collaboration, etc.

– Collaborations between composers/programmers/productores & singers: A very common thing, specially now, since most producers or programmers have their own home studio, so do artists!  So… let’s get to it!

… if you are a producer/programmer/composer and you collaborate with a lyricist: The best thing to do is not to wait to talk about “business”, once the song is done and depending on who has done what. Think about it… If you did the music and he/she wrote the lyrics or came up with a melody, what’s fair? Just open a dialog about it, normally it’s a 50-50% deal, but you might feel the percentages are not really right that way… just talk about it! Once this is done, copyright the song and publish it as agreed. It’s that easy!

… if you are a singer and collaborate with a producer/programmer/composer: If the producer didn’t charge you for his work and you recorded for free there, you should know that, unless agreed and signed differently, HE owns the sound recording and he is in his right to put a price tag to that song, or its license to use it. Sooo… better talk about it than regret it later, sign a small agreement with whatever you talked about and the song you just created together.

– Collaborations between singer and rapper:  Grey area in this practice, so let’s talk about it:

…if a singer or rapper collaborated with you on your record: Unless diferently agreed (with sales royalties, just to name an example), YOU should be paying the collaborator.

…if you collaborate on their record: Then, you should be the one charging them.

My recommendation is, for a better experience, try to pay people that collaborate with you, in advance if at all possible. They are professionals (try for them to be at least! This is your record!) and they have to pay bills as well. Also, no matter what agreement you make, draw a small contract so everything is tied up so there is no missundertanding in the future… we avoid the whole “hear say” part of “you said you would pay me this and that and now you’re NOT”.

Last, but not least, advice on how to choose who you collaborate with:

– First things first, you should like his/her work and it should fit you: Try to surround yourself with people that make good, professional music. Also, think about it, are they inside your genre? does it fit you? You are able to experiment, of course, but don’t just work for the money part… if a genre doesn’t fit you, just don’t do it. Also, do you guys have a good collaboration experience? Sometimes you meet great musicians, but your character just doesn’t fit with theirs, your genres don’t work together, you don’t agree with each other, etc. Just follow your feelings, if it don’t work, it don’t work! No matter how much money is involved…

– Be careful with opportunists: Let’s be real, they DO exist. Be aware of people that ask you to collaborate with you. Are they for real? Are they really feeling your music or are they just trying to take advantage of who you are? Use your common sense to catch the opportunists!

– At the same time, don’t be an opportunist yourself!: Maybe you have the opportunity to do a collaboration with somebody bigger than you but you’re not convinced about them, do you like them as artists? If not, why are you doing this collaboration? For the money? The fame? Is it really worth it? In my case, I preffer to say no to a collaboration with somebody big than to compromise my principles. That is just my prerogative! Who I am! I preffer to do collaborations with people that I consider good artists & adhere to my beliefs. Do you?

Well, I hope this is good advice for you, now go ahead and creat great music with whoever you decide to do it with! :)