Ever wanted to create your own hit song but don’t have – well, you know, time, money, a studio, a band, instruments…etc??
I didn’t pick up a guitar until I was 14 and even though that is a few decades ago now, let me be the first to say that I am a loooonng way off hitting my 10,000 hours of mastery.
Guitar is a passion though, music moves me, keeps me motivated. You would regularly find me deep into a task, donned with headphones, with some sort of heavy metal attacking my eardrums. This is what I would define a flow state. Not everyone is the same, but this works for me.
So, dreams of getting my band back together (“band” is a euphemism for a-bunch-of-stoner-teens-talking-about-music) and creating a breakthrough single that rocks the charts still makes me smile a little on the inside. Is it possible?
Maybe not rocking the charts, but certainly taking an idea, finding people who are masters of the craft, and coordinating them, is a simple recipe for any startup or project.
Introducing: 24 Hour Outsourcing Project
A project should have a goal or scope, a schedule, a budget, and milestones to meet those.
We’re putting together a rock song.
The inputs to this will be me (murdering a) guitar riff on my electric guitar, which will be the basis of the song.
We’ll put together a guitar, bass, and drum combo, using people who are way better at that than me, that also have the required equipment. Then getting someone to mix the lot into something coherent (hopefully)
This whole process should usually take days or weeks, cost quite a lot, and would usually require a recording studio with thousands of dollars worth or really hard to use equipment.
1 x Outsourcing Service Provider – This 24 challenge experiment will be done using just one service provider to keep it simple: Fiverr
1 x Guitar – or other instrument of choice – napkin outline, whiteboard sketch, screencast of you talking about your idea
Note on equipment
If you were looking to do this yourself and only had a laptop and guitar handy, you could just use the mic built into your computer, but I would suggest it more important to record yourself on video playing this to help the musician contractor get more nuances to the sound if the quality was lacking a little, by seeing it in action.
4 x Contractors – in this case, a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, and the mixer to take all the separate bits and put them into 1 finished product (hopefully we can call it a song..)
- GUITAR – SKARAMA – who is also our backup bassist
- BASS – Negative Space
- DRUMS – Thundabeats
- MIXING – The Brown Noise
1 x Project Manager – this is the secret sauce. With the majority of contractors being from the northern hemisphere and on a different time zone to here in Australia, any work or feedback may will come in while I’m asleep..so we’ll enlist the help of someone on a similar timezone to cover this. Using TimeEtc, LaKenya will be my superstar PM on this one.
Note on contractors
This new world of doing work, sometimes referred to as the “gigging economy” has it’s bugbears; these are humans. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you need to be conscious that many of these contractors are doing these gigs on the side, so there ability to perform the intended service on time is a bit hit and miss. So, to ensure this hits the milestone, I will grab a backup contractor for each of the components, which will double the budget requirements from $20 to $40.
Inevitably things go wrong and I know you guys want to see a finished product, so due to the low cup-of-coffee risk involved here, we’ll select a support band for each member just in case someone has one to many corkscrews and doesn’t wake up 😉
This was quite simple, after ensuring my Project Manager was available for the period (she usually jumps at anything we are working on) all that was left to do was get started!
Step 1 – Book PM. This was easy, with TimeEtc you can just email a task into their system! Waited about an hour for the reply (LaKenya would have just awoken for the day with the time difference) and we’re on!
Step 2 – Record demo track. It took me 6 takes to get one that I was comfortable sharing (only to you guys) and to be honest, that’s about as many as my out-of-practice fingers could take. I plugged my guitar into my laptop and used the Windows Sound Recorder (so pro..not!)
Step 3 – Fiverr. One of the cool features of this service is it’s filtering options, they actually have a whole section dedicated to Music and Audio, which has a topic right at the top – Session Musicians. A quick filter on people who will deliver within a day and we have our band members!
Step 4 – Pay the band. One of the differences between these task type services and the contractor services like Elance or Freelancer is you pay up front instead of milestones in Escrow. Essentially, Fiverr still escrows your money until the ‘gigger delivers and if they don’t deliver on time, it’s a relatively easy process to cancel and get a credit on your account.
Step 5 – Upload demo track. Within the Fiverr site, you can upload files and talk to the contractors within each gig. I simply sent the same words to each (something like “this is an experiment. Keep it rough and heavy and I will be happy. Please send your track singly and not mixed with mine as it will be mixed later with other tracks”) and uploaded the demo track.
Step 6 – Wait. Actually, this step is Sleep (and let the PM take over!!) I created a shareable folder on dropbox.com for LaKenya to capture all the delivered files into that we could share with the Mixer
‘Plating’ It All Up
Note 1 – Once we have all the files for each band member (Guitar, Bass, Drums) we can send the Mixer a note to collate them
Note 2 – We will use the same mixer to ensure we don’t run out of time
Tune in tomorrow to see if we actually got this done..
[12hr Update] – Oops
I stuffed up a little bit
I hit publish on this way too early (yesterday), but we kicked off this morning at 7am and I made sure all the words I wanted in here for this morning have made it in today, which means we will be due for completion tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 7am.
But…I am going to be a meanie and make you wait until the Blab tomorrow night at 7:30pm to show you the finished product (if it actually did get there)
As part of the final update from my PM, I will get her to publish the update with whatever the contractors have done up until that point, so fingers crossed 🙂
[Day 2 Update] – Done?
The Finished Product
This is a little loud, so you might want to turn down your speakers if you want to check it out.
I’m writing this at 6:40am and the files have been delivered! Sounds way cooler than I expected, check out that solo!!
So, from a little riff recorded using the Windows Sound Recorder (no amps, no recording equipment) to this end product, with band members I’ve never met, who have not met each other or heard each others parts, all coordinated while I was asleep. So cool.
Planning out this my VA was absolutely invaluable as not only was she prepped up for what I was expecting, she was able to anticipate some of the issues before they became problems
- Using Fiverrs built in Request a Gig function proved helpful when finalising the contractors after the initial band members chosen weren’t available
- Chase up one of the contractors who thought they had 4 days to deliver
- Finalise a refund for one of our drummers who had just packed up their equipment and was off on holiday (can’t beat bad timing)
- Sort out an issue with the delivery of one of the bass file formats and get it resubmitted
- Accept an update last minute with the guitar guy to ensure the timing on my track was going to be ok for mixing (no idea what that all meant, but it was dealt with while I was asleep…good stuff)
I did do a little prep work earlier this month just to see if this was a completely stupid idea. So, I collected a couple of musicians to touch base with when we came back to do the 24hr Challenge. When I went to set this up, I only allowed about an hour to “find band members”, but due to the nature of contracting – almost all my original band members were either no available or no longer even on the platform! D’oh.
If anyone missed it, when I was putting this plan together as this original post I made a rookie blogging mistake and hit PUBLISH instead of scheduling the post for the next morning. This strategy is absolutely key for me so that I am not doing any “my” work on “my customers” time, but it meant that the post ended up going out almost 12hrs early – complete with wrong contractors, missing words, my own notes to myself, the lot. Amateur hour.
I realised that I broke every other amateur-hour rule in the book when it comes to music recording;
What do you mean you didn’t use a metronome? A what now?
Did you use a click track, can I get the BPM? Uh…here is my track…
What tempo do you want the progression to take? Uh…here is my track…
There was a bunch of other questions that the contractors asked, most of which my VA handled gracefully on my behalf. What this did tell me was that these guys were all very professional and seemed to know what they were doing. Bonus.
Also, I gave no instructions as to how to handle the structure of the song itself, so each band member went off on their own tangent, which made it really tough for the mixer. Again, thankfully the guitarist was very forgiving and redid some recording for me. Also my PM was instrumental (like that?) in coordinating these updates with the mixer to ensure everything went to plan and made the deadline.
So there you have it. A warts’n’all [24hr Challenge] to build out an idea.
Are you up for the challenge? You can get your own idea into an MVP (minimum viable product) at Fiverr here
Now, get back to work!