The Art of Collaboration

Well, the lullaby album is coming along…slowly.  I don’t know what my Mom and I were thinking by proclaiming that it would be finished by the Fall. (Were we out of our minds?)

I have a 4 month old baby, who, needs my attention at any given moment day or night.  And yeah, I know what you’re thinking…because I TOO once thought those same thoughts before I had a child.  “How can it be so hard?”.  Well, someday if you do have children before you die, then you will understand. 

I also teach 7 piano students, workout anywhere from 1-2 hours a day, and have a husband too.  Not to mention I am my baby’s sole source of food right now – and given that he eats every 2 – 3 hours…do the math and that is a huge chunk out of my day just providing meals for the little squirt.  (Who is, I might add, 17 lbs!! In the 90th percentile – meaning he is bigger than 90 percent of babies his age).

My Mom, also has a studio of piano students (I don’t know the exact number), and is the Music Chairman for our Church’s regional Christmas program.  It is no small concert they put on either.  We’re talking a huge church choir, violinists, harpists, professional singers, narrators, childrens choirs…you name it.  It is such a big deal, that she pretty much starts working on next year’s program the day after the current years concert has taken place.

So back to the album. 

So far, we’ve got 6 tracks composed (3 each).  We would like to have anywhere between 10-12 tracks on the album, so there is still a bit of composing yet to do.  We are now hoping for a late December/early January release.

This is the first time I have ever collaborated with anyone on a project like this.  But it isn’t easy.  Don’t get me wrong – my Mom is easy to work with.  I’m just saying, when two artists come together -both of whom have very different styles and ways of doing things – well, it can a struggle of wills.

So far we have been lucky enough that the project has been going smoothly.  But as we get closer and closer to actually getting this thing done, I think we are both feeling like we are making compromises to how we would, individually, do it if the other weren’t involved.

But, I have to say, finding someone with whom you can mesh minds with artistically is gold.  So often times if you can find the right combination, magic can happen. 

For example, my mom has come up with some really great ideas for this album that never even crossed my mind.  The idea of researching some older lullabies that have been forgotten…which also has led to her discovering how some of these melodies need to be recorded or else they will be lost forever because they have only ever been sung from generation to generation.  It is exciting to hear some of the old Scottish and Irish melodies she has found (as a tribute to our ancestory).

I think overall, this album is going to be great.  A good blend of both of our composition styles.

We’re still working out the kinks though – some of the more petty details in collaborating, like how many CDs do we manufacture? I thought we were doing digital only at first? Which bank should we set up a new business account with, yours or mine?  Do we need to register a new publishing company with ASCAP?  But wait, I’m ASCAP and you’re BMI…who’s do we go with?  How do we split profits?  By per album sale or song sale?  What are we going to do for the cover artwork?  Oh you like that picture – … but I don’t.  What to do?  You want to do a 6 panel cd insert?  But I only want to do a 4 page insert.  You want a whole extra page for song lyrics? But that costs extra money. You want your Grammy award winning producer to mix and master for how much??  But I can have my non-Grammy award winning engineer do it for half the cost.

LOL…So you can see, there are still a lot of details we need to get worked out. Hey, at least we didn’t disagree on what songs we wanted to do.  I don’t know what we would have done if we were both wanting to arrange the same song.  That is a WHOLE other kind of collaboration that we are not really doing right now (co-writing songs).

The best part of all of this experience is the fact that I am doing it with my Mom.  The fact that it is an album full of sweet songs that a mother would hum to her child….to know my mother has sung some of these melodies to me as a child, and I now sing them to my little one.  This album will always be near and dear to my heart more than any of my other projects. 

Hopefully within the next month or so, I’ll get a small sample of one or two of the lullabies up on my page as well as our websites to wet your appetites. 🙂

Until then….sweet dreams

– Jennifer


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