How to use Slack for remote recording sessions

What is #Slack?

#Slack is a messaging app designed for creative agencies, developers and marketing firms to communicate with simplicity, clarity & focus outside of email.  It allows file sharing, groupings by channels, teams and outside app integrations such as dropbox. 

How can #Slack be used for remote music recording?

My company Craft & Communicate uses Slack everyday to keep our marketing team connected with everyone in places like Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Michigan, Texas, Arkansas, Virgina & beyond.

While working on some library music sessions (‘library’ is basically background/production music) recently, I found the emails pertaining to the sessions were getting crossed and information was being lost.  Generally an album will have 10 or so tracks, which will have 5-6 instruments, and could have 3-4 revisions so there is a lot of back and forth in the communication department when recording remotely. 

What is a Remote Recording sesion?

As most industries have adjusted to working from home due to COVID-19, the music business has too.  Remote sessions are when a musician records their part (generally at their home) and then sends the files via a file transfer service such as FTP, Dropbox, WeTransfer, etc to another musician’s studio so they can add to the song.  It’s a wonder of technology that this even exists and is very useful, however it’s a very disjointed process from playing live or in the studio together. 

I started sending files remotely in 2006 when I lived in Nashville.  Even though the producer lived 10 miles away we eventually found a rhythm and remote sessions were faster and more cost effective than driving to his studio, setting all the gear up, recording, then tearing down and driving home. 

Fast forward to March of 2020 and now the entire world learned overnight how to work remotely (if they weren’t already). 

The 5 steps for using Slack in a recording studio.

  1. Download the app (it’s on ios/android as well)
  2. Set up a workspace (generally named your-name/project-music)
  3. Send out the ‘magic link’ or invite your team/band manually. 
  4. You will automatically see your band/team and can DM (direct message) them or create groups.  This works like any DM function on other apps. 
  5. Create a channel (this is the good part!)  With channels that are defined by a hashtag you can create anything that pertains to the project.  I’ll go into step 5 in more detail below.

How to use channels in Slack for Music Sessions

In any given project you will have a number of things to organize. 

Screenshot of a Channel for a specific track.

In the screenshot above you can see we have a few working titles, a set of ideas, links to Dropbox (although you can upload files to Slack too).  One of the many advantages to working this way is that conversation is preserved outside of all other distractions.  So you can reply in minutes or in weeks and pick up right where you left off without sorting through hundreds of emails that might have come in at a later time to find what revision was last requested.

In Conclusion:

If you’re working on more than 2 tracks with more than 2 musicians it can not only help keep the messaging organized, it also serves as a ‘space’ for the other conversations that happen on real sessions and often get lost in email. Currently Slack has free versions & paid versions.  The free version is plenty for basic recording projects from my experience. 

Give it a try on your next session and let me know how it goes! 

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