Collaborations are great. They can get you in front of other people's audiences fairly quickly, they can mean more opportunities arise as you network with more people, and they can generally have you making music you couldn't have made on your own.
But there's a flip side.
Not all collaborations are made evenly. While working with the right people can give you all the above listed benefits and more, working with the wrong people can do your music career more harm than good.
And it's not just working with untalented musicians which could set you back. Collaborating with not so professional graphic designers, partnering with the wrong companies, and generally working with anyone who doesn't hold the quality of their art or service to a high standard could be hazardous for you. Furthermore, working with talented musicians who have a reputation which doesn't match your goals is also a bad idea.
So be selective over who you work with; below are some of the main reasons you'll want to do this
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People Will Associate You With The People You Collaborate With
I've previously talked about the benefits of collaborating with other musicians. One of the things I mentioned was that it could have a positive affect on the way people perceive you. If you work with a lot of talented musicians who are already known and respected, some of their image will rub off on you. You're working with these people, so you must be of the same quality and prestige as them. As long as your music doesn't let them know otherwise, this is the impression people will get and you'll benefit from it.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If you start collaborating with people who aren't that good and are known as being of a poor quality, working with a few musicians and bands like this could also rub off on you. People will see you being at the same level as these other acts who they don't really like, as you're regularly working with them.
If these other musicians are your friends, it can be hard. You may do a one off song with them, which generally won't harm your image too much (as long as you do well on it). But regularly collaborating with these acts isn't a good idea, friend or not.
This is why you don't generally see bigger name musicians collaborating with acts who aren't at least of a certain level. Even if they're offered money to do so, many reject these offers unless they're both willing to pay and are talented in their own right.
Collaborating with artists on a much lower level to yourself is a move that can damage your reputation, so avoid at all costs.
Collaborating Too Much Can Be A Time Drain
While you should be actively networking and working with others, you only have a certain amount of time in the day. As a independent musician, it's impossible to get everything you need done. It's because of this that you need to be selective with your tasks.
One such task you should be selective of is your collaborations. The thing is, working a good collab can take time. Not only do you have to work with the person to figure out what kind of tune you should make, but you need to figure out the structure of the song, who does what, sort out any vocals, arrange the backing track if you're a producer, sort out a time to record it and more.
All in all, collaborating can take time. And if you're collaborating with those who won't really move you and your music career forward in any way, you're simply wasting time that could have been used elsewhere.
So be sure to collaborate with those who have the most chance of benefiting your music career in some way, and avoid those that won't.
Collaborations Costs Money
As a general rule, collaborating with another musician costs you money. This is mainly in terms of recording cost when you go to the studio, as well as travel costs if you need to meet them to work on it. Not only does it cost you money, but it also stops you from doing other music related activities, which could have made you money instead.
While this isn't generally an issue (you have to spend money to make money), if you've not going to benefit from this collab in any real way, then you've effectively losing money. This is pretty self explanatory, so steer clear.
As you can see, collaborating with untalented musicians is a waste of your time and money. Not only that, but it'll also give people a bad impression of you. If you're regularly working with musicians of a lower level, people will naturally assume that you're at the same level as them.
You'll also be associated with the things they do which don't relate to your brand as a musician, so if someone stands for something you really don't, don't work with them.
Are there any other reasons you can think of not to collaborate with certain musicians? If so, let us know in the comments.