Tips for Successful Musical Collaboration


Our friends at Electronic Beats shared an article where dance floor duo JETS provides insight on what makes for a successful collaboration between independent musicians. JETS includes Ultramajic label boss Jimmy Edgar and Ninja Tune affiliate Machine Drum. Together, they offer some helpful tips about how to combine musical visions for efficient sonic production.

Watch the video below to see an interview with JETS

Trust is crucial for any successful collaboration. When working independently, you get caught up in the same habits. When working with a partner, it is important to trust them and allow them to make creative decisions that you might be uncomfortable with at first. The best moments come out of allowing your partner to just do their thing.

“Trust doesn’t come easily; it builds over time. We’ve known each other for years. We met on a sweaty night in 2001 outside a club in Miami where two mutual friends were playing. Later that year, when we were 17 & 18 years old, we cemented our friendship and experienced our teenage wet dreams in Tokyo during our first trip abroad. That was the beginning of a long journey of building trust as friends, which eventually led to us feeling comfortable enough to be working together. We think it’s important to be friends for a musical project, as we’ve both worked with people who weren’t necessarily friends with, and it generally never works out.”

Ultimately, the partners should like each other, which is often overlooked, because when it comes to making money in business situations, friendship isn’t the priority.

Jimmy Edgar & Machinedrum 'JETS' performing
Jimmy Edgar & Machinedrum ‘JETS’ performing

Collaboration is essentially a form of communication, and it affects the work when it breaks down. JETS believes that the amount of focused and loving effort that is put into your project is almost equal to the exponential growth the piece will receive.

We always start and finish projects together and in person. When we go a while without working in the same space or even talking on the phone about our ideas, we tend to veer in drastically different directions, and usually the best thing to do is hop on a quick phone call to figure out exactly what needs to be done. A bunch of psychic stuff goes down when we’re in our creative zone.

Be able to feed each other and create a good system of work can allow the project to grow naturally and efficiently while keeping both collaborators happy. Showing interest in what you are doing keeps the project fresh and your collaborator motivated.

Be fans of each other’s music, motivate each other to do your best when working together. Try to impress each other and that’ll force you two to create the best material possible. Mutual respect can help facilitate greatness in collaboration because you more or less don’t want to let the other person down.


Make everything fun, because there’s no point otherwise. If you have to struggle to find the fun, you may need to go back to the drawing board. Having a collaborator creates more room for creativity and fun that can be easily transferred into your music.

Sometimes the best tunes result when you don’t take yourself so seriously and inject some joy and laughs into it. We’re lucky that we can make each other laugh and keep things lighthearted, even when we have crazy deadlines and limited studio time.

Environment can be a huge variable when it comes to making a track. It has to allow the creative juices to flow without stifling the process. Due to traveling or complications to find proper meeting areas, improving environments and making makeshift studios might be required. Sometimes, creating a good environment could mean switching roles so that things don’t become so repetitive and monotonous, preventing any kind of creative blocks.

Collaboration calls for adaptability. Be the fluid that fills your project “container.” It is important to not let egos get involved, and letting each other take turns letting the other person do what they want while keeping ideas linear to the vision. Also, a lot of the time, collaboration is done at separate locations. Being able to cope with distance while maintaining the creative focus is difficult, but it is necessary if you want to see progress in your projects.

Always have a vision, even if it’s basic. It can be a guide to help you figure out what you want to do, and it’s a lot more simple than it sounds. A lot of musicians can have a deadline, and that can be a vision. However, a vision can come from inspiration, which can come from a bunch of different media. Exposing yourself to other music, art, and film can help re-establish your vision. Wherever you get your vision from, it is important to keep it consistent with your collaborator to ensure quality control

The fun part of having a collaborator is the ability to have more creative ideas. This can easily be applied to how you want your performances to be.

“Sometimes we come up with very involved live performances that show off our abilities to perform on instruments and recreate our songs live. Other times we think it’s more appropriate, powerful and fun to do a back-to-back DJ set because we get to play new songs for the audience and each other. When it comes to mixes we like to think outside the box. Instead of throwing together a quick mix of whatever tunes we’re currently digging, we like to get a bit deeper.

Though we find ourselves mostly focused when we are working alone. JETS explain how collaborators can further develop your music production and creativity by forcing you to adapt to different situations, skills, and people. More importantly, it can also be really fun!

Check out one of their tracks here:

Are you interested in becoming a DJ or producer, or both? We are now enrolling for our upcoming classes. Contact us to get your music career rolling.

Jimmy Edgar at Wonder Bar, 9/18/2012

MMMMaven in association with Music Ecology‘s Tuesdays at Wonder Bar features Jimmy Edgar. September 18th at 10 pm, 21+, $10 at the door.

Jimmy Edgar @ Wonder Bar, 9/18

Sex. That raw kind. The kind of encounter described in hushed tones to friends over the first round of drinks, then too loud and in too great detail to the strangers perched at the bar on the fifth. It’s not that Jimmy Edgar is trying to write a soundtrack to this kind of sex. Rather, Edgar is attempting to replicate the sounds, the emotions, the rhythms of lust–without actually recording what goes down in his own bedroom. Despite track titles like, “This One’s for the Children,” Edgar’s latest album, Majenta, is no less infused with the raw sexuality for which he is notorious. On the heels of his first release with Hotflush Recordings, the international musician, visual artist, and photographer began his 2012 world tour. Edgar brings the salacious and provocative beats of Majenta to his fans in a mix of DJ sets and live LED performances. The North American stretch of Edgar’s tour kicks off right here in Boston, September 18th, at Wonder Bar.


Three veterans of the Boston music scene are also featured in the night’s line-up:

Ali Berger returns to the stage after a brief hiatus. Berger, who’s been perfecting the flow of his funky sets, introduces us to some new tracks, including those on his latest EP with Militant Science. In the next year, Berger fans have more gigs to look forward to as well as his in-progress debut album.

Recent guest on In the MMMMix and the first guest of MMMMaven’s Friday Live Set, Doctor Jeep continues making the rounds on Boston stages. If you’re paying attention, you might just pick up some audible souvenirs from the Doc’s recent trip over to the UK.

A set from John Barera completes the program. Barera, who released his “Mile End” EP with Ortloff Records earlier this year, recently joined our friends over at Basstown as a new resident for Make It New.


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