Yesterday I wrote about why you should collaborate online. Today I want to share with you a few tools that will help you get started.

Obviously, you need to find people to collaborate with. Maybe you’ve got some musician friends who live in another town or another country. If you don’t know anyone who’s willing to collaborate, get involved in an online forum or two, or post an ad on Craigslist.

The Tools

There are a bajillion ways to collaborate online, the simplest being emailing files back and forth. However, this can bog down your email server, and most email services set a limit on file sizes you can attach to a single email.

I like to avoid email attachments as much as possible.

There are plenty of ways to send files. Here are two:

Dropbox

If you haven’t checked out Dropbox.com, you need to. It’s an awesome service. (Check out my Dropbox review here.)

Here are a few reasons I like Dropbox:

  • You can upload and share files publicly or privately.
  • Dropbox creates folders on your computer that sync with the Dropbox server. That means if you drop a file in a shared folder, it is automatically uploaded to Dropbox.com. AND if you’re sharing a folder with someone else, any new files are automatically downloaded their computer as well. Pretty cool.
  • 2 GB of space for free.
  • 50 GB for $9.99/month <—that’s what I have
  • 100 GB for $19.99/month

Some of you may not like the idea of paying for more space, but as long as I’ve used it, it’s been worth it. I create a new shared folder for each person I’m collaborating with. Whenever either of us add something new, we simply email each other and say, “Hey, check dropbox for the new bass line.”

YouSendIt

Another popular file-sharing site is YouSendIt.com. This is a great way to quickly and easily send large files. The recipient receives a download email and downloads the files from the YouSendIt server.

Real-Time Sharing

You can get away with sending files back and forth, but what if you want to work on something at the same time? If you’ve got a decently fast internet connection, then you can utilize a bunch of different streaming services.

Ustream

UStream.tv is my streaming service of choice. The audio quality is actually quite astonishing, AND it’s completely free. Download their new UStream Producer software, which lets you share both your audio AND your computer screen.

This is a great way to share ideas with someone. For example, if I’m trying out a few different things in a mix for someone, I can either bounce several copies of and send each mp3 to him, or I can have him join me for a live Ustream session. Create a show, set it to be password protected (so only the two of us can view it), then play the different mixes for him in realtime, get his opinion, and get back to work!

It’s a pretty sweet setup. If any of you joined me for the live mix session I did last month, you heard how good it sounds. Pretty sweet stuff.

Skype

A number of you mentioned in the comments yesterday that Skype is a fairly easy way to collaborate/practice music with somebody else. Apparently if you do an audio-only Skype call, the lag isn’t too bad!

Online Collaboration Sites

In addition to these other solutions, there are several all-online collaboration sites out there. They’re basically an online-DAW where you can record straight to the website interface. I’ve never messed around with them, but from what I’ve heard they seem pretty cool and would be worth a look. A few examples:

Share your ideas!

Hopefully this articles gives you some practical places to start. Do you have other suggestions? Questions? Share them in the comments section now. You know the drill, 10 comments, please.

By the way…THANK YOU for being an HSC reader. I think you’re really cool. 🙂

[Photo by janelleorsi]