Whether you want to record a musician remotely or find a good bass player online, you don’t have to do any complicated setup with Zoom crossing your fingers or posting classified ads. Everything can be done online in a few clicks.
Fiverr or SoundBetter will allow you to get in touch with other musicians or music producers offering their services. Use Satellite from Mixed In Key or VST Connect from Steinberg to record or work with other musicians directly on your sequencer, through the internet.
In order to choose the right service or tool for you, let’s review the options available to you. 🧐
Hire other musicians online
If you don’t have a full address book or haven’t found availability with your musician friends, you can always call on freelancers available for paid services.
Indeed, there are websites that put people in touch with each other or with music production professionals. These sites generally regroup several categories of artists, technicians and sound engineers, offering their services at very variable rates according to their skills and seniority. You can also find extracts of their work as well as a list of artists with whom they have collaborated, but also their awards, if they have any.
Online collaboration is often done through messaging and file exchange. This can take some time, but it allows people to work on their own time (within the restrictions imposed by the platform) and let their talents run free while following your instructions.
If you want a well played bass line with a good sound, but you don’t know a bass player, nor have the equipment to do so. You’ll find professional or knowledgeable musicians of all kinds on Fiverr, be they singers, instrumentalists or other freelancers in the music business. These musicians will record their lines and send them to you after payment.
Beware, some musicians are not professional and will not necessarily live up to your expectations, check their reviews and the work they have already done to have points of comparison
Just like Fiverr, SoundBetter offers a wide range of music production professionals, especially for mixing and mastering. Their rates are more expensive, but they are exclusively professionals, some of whom are Grammy nominated 😯 ! Before contacting them, you can see their fee schedule, some of their equipment, the musical genre they usually work with as well as their personal work policies.
Record your musicians via internet directly on your sequencer
If you have musicians in your address book, want to collaborate with them, and they have recording equipment at home, you can very well record them directly from home, remotely, on YOUR computer! In fact, there are plugins that allow you to send the audio or MIDI signal from one sequencer to another via the internet, provided that your respective connections are fast and stable enough.
In this way, you will be able to spot errors or communicate your intentions and questions directly to them without going through emails or messages, a voice chat system being generally integrated to these tools
However, beware that the greater the geographical distance between the two participants, the greater the latency time, which could create synchronization problems. Some solutions presented here compensate for this delay by delaying the audio playback of the project or by resynchronizing. If the plugin you are using does not compensate for this lag and you are thousands of miles apart, it may be unmanageable.
The bandwidth of your connection and that of your partner will define the maximum number of audio tracks you can transfer live. Your ping (the time it takes for a signal to travel back and forth from your connection) will play an important role in the latency (delay time) of your recordings. A ping of more than 150 milliseconds could be very inconvenient during your recording sessions, even impractical.
It is also possible that your connection is not stable enough and that packets are lost during transfer. Even if these are automatically resent, this could cause synchronization problems or data corruption and ruin your recordings
A fiber optic connection will be welcome to work in optimal conditions. These are the most reliable and fastest, with speeds up to several Gigabits per second, a ping of only a few milliseconds and almost no packet loss.
You can test your internet connection at these addresses:
- Packet loss test: packetlosstest.com
- Bandwidth and Ping test (Click on ”More information”): fast.com
Let’s see the different remote recording plugins that can be used in your sequencers.
If you need to work on a common project with other musicians, but can not record live, you can use Satellite. Simply put, it’s an online third-party sequencer in the form of a plugin that synchronizes your audio and MIDI recordings
Each player inserts the plugin into the console slices they wish to share and they can be recorded online as Stems (audio export of one or more instruments) or as MIDI data.
Each Stem is presented as in a parallel sequencer(Satellite) and shared with all participants in the session, after synchronization. Any element can be played from Satellite or imported into your sequencer by simply clicking and dragging to a track.
After exchanging an invitation link to a Satellite session, your audio and MIDI files will be directly displayed in Satellite. It will be possible to work on a common project without having to exchange files through DropBox or Google Drive for example, which will speed up your work. A perfect solution for anyone who doesn’t have a satisfactory connection for live recording
The BPM, time signature and sample rate are automatically synchronized, but it is also possible to note the chord grid in the Satellite interface to avoid misunderstandings during a composition.
This is certainly the easiest and most intuitive solution to set up. Note that you may need to leave the Satellite session open if you want to make it available to others when you are not available. In this case, leave your computer on so that your Stems can be synchronized.
You can use Satellite on your favorite sequencer, in VST and Audio Unit formats, for Windows and Mac.
And the best part is that this plugin is completely free, big thanks to Mixed In Key! 🥳
Among the professional live remote recording solutions, there is Source Connect. Unlike free plugins, this paid online service has a backup solution in case of technical problems due to internet outage or other connection bug
In case of technical difficulties during the transfer of live audio, Source Connect will resynchronize the files and make sure that everything is in the right place at the right time. This will ensure that there is no audio lag or file corruption between participants’ sequencers.
This service is intended for professionals and recording studios and will only be needed by the most demanding people. It is available from $35 – €35 per month with a one-time $75 – €75 initialization fee. You will need to have a continuous use of it as well as the financial means to enjoy it.
Steinberg VST Connect
Developed by Steinberg (creators of Cubase), this plugin supports the transfer of MIDI data and up to 16 tracks of uncompressed audio (up to 192Khz) in direct. The connection is made between a Host plugin and a Client plugin with a simple ID number.
An Ethernet connection is required (WiFi not recommended) with a minimum upload rate of 256Kbps for each person. The integration of the plugins into Cubase is optimized and seamless, as they are from the same editor, which will make the experience more fluid and natural.
VST Connect is $299 – €299, downloadable in VST3 format for Windows and Mac from the Steinberg website:
Use an online sequencer
If the above-mentioned proposals don’t suit you or are too expensive, you can always work with other people by using an online service that will allow you to compose together. For more information, see the section on online sequencers:
If you want to collaborate with other artists without spending money, BandLab allows you to compose and share your sessions with them so they can add their recordings or performances. Create your profile and compose with other musicians online, the service is completely free and based on its social network.
You can work on any machine that uses a compatible browser and resume your projects on other devices, the same goes for the musicians you work with.
But it is above all a playful solution and not a professional one. You will certainly be limited in your choice of virtual instruments as well as by the fact that you will have to “leave the hand” on the project to other musicians. It is therefore preferable to use these online sequencers only to note down common ideas between amateur musicians or only for recreational use.
If you’re not looking for a serious musical encounter, you can check out Multiplayer Piano, a live music collaboration site. Plug in your MIDI keyboard and jam with strangers. Nothing serious, but it might give you some ideas.