Collaboration is the cornerstone of the indie music scene. 

In my own career, and the careers of artists I’ve mentored, it’s single handedly been one of the things I’ve seen make the biggest difference. 

Why then, does it sometimes feel so hard?

Here’s our guide to finding the right collaborators for your music, and making the process as smooth (and fun!) as possible.

Define Your Goals and Vision

It sounds simple, but this is the part I see artists skip the most. And I get it! It’s not easy. But before you start reaching out to potential collaborators, it’s crucial to have a clear idea of what you want. 

Are you looking for a co-writer, a producer, or a band member? Do you need someone to help with the technical aspects of music production, or are you seeking creative input? Are you looking for a band to partner with for a show? A brand partnership? What do you want to get out of this?

Knowing your goals will help you identify the right people to reach out to, and communicate exactly what you’re looking for.

Connect with Collaborators on Social Media

Each platform will have its own strengths. Leverage them.

For instance, you can join groups and communities on Facebook or Reddit. (Yes, Facebook is still good for something!) Once there you can participate in discussions, share your music, and express your interest in collaboration. There are still a TON of city specific, genre specific, and need specific Facebook Groups and Subreddits for this.

Meanwhile, platforms like Instagram and Twitter (sorry, X) have their own strengths, like using hashtags to find the perfect collaborators. As a bonus, the visual aspect of platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok will help you get a feel for if their style aligns with or compliments yours.

Attend Music Events and Networking Opportunities

Online is great, in person is better.

Attending live shows, open mics, and music conferences and festivals is a fantastic way to meet other musicians and industry professionals. You have the added benefit of really being able to get to know someone in person and quickly get a sense of if you’d work well together. Some of the best ideas and relationships I’ve had came from in-person events. 

Example: Attend local open mic nights and approach artists whose performances you feel a connection to. Say something like, “I really liked your set! I’m working on some new material and think we could create something cool together.” This can be applied to anyone in the industry or even different brands you might want to collaborate with. 

Use Collaboration Specific Platforms

You know how there are specific platforms for things like finding influencers?

Well, that exists for collaborations too!

Platforms like SoundBetter, Kompoz, and Splice are tailored to musicians seeking collaborators, offering a space to share your music, browse other artists, and find people whose skills complement yours. Places like Alignable and LinkedIn aren’t music-specific but can also be a great place to find collaborators and brand partnerships. 

Example: Create a detailed profile on SoundBetter, showcasing your music and stating you’re looking for a drummer to add a live feel to your recordings. Browse profiles and message those who seem like a good fit. Or, search Alignable for or IG hashtags for the kind of brand you hope to collaborate with.

Phone a friend

Otherwise known as, ask for recommendations! 

Your most powerful tool is your existing network. Ask friends, fellow musicians, and industry contacts if they know anyone who might be a good fit for what you’re thinking. Personal recommendations can often lead to the best collaborations because there’s an existing layer of trust.

Example: Post on your socials, “Looking for a talented vocalist to feature on my new track. Any recommendations?” This also works for things like marketing or brand collabs. “Looking for a great PR/marketing company, know any recommendations?” (in this case, I’d raise my own hand for Muddy Paw PR!)

Or, for brand deals. “Looking for an indie snack company for potential tour partnership. Who is your favorite?!” 

Be Open-Minded

While it’s important to know what you want, being flexible and open to new ideas is an important part of the process. So often in this industry the place we start is completely different than where we end up.

It might mean collaborating with someone who has a different background or approach — which can push your music in new and innovative directions—or it might mean doing something you’ve never thought of, but feel inspired by.

Example: If you’re a folk artist, consider collaborating with a hip-hop producer to create a totally unique to you sound. 

This brings me to…

Trust Your Instincts

Finally, trust your gut. If you feel a genuine connection with someone and believe they understand your vision, that’s a promising sign. Collaboration should be enjoyable and inspiring, so it’s important to work with people you respect and feel comfortable with. Let your instincts guide you and remember, collaboration should be fun! Don’t be afraid to play around a little and make the most of this new adventure.