The pandemic has forced musicians worldwide to improvise as they continue to write and produce new songs from home, and Facebook’s new collaborative music app, Collab, is here to help. Released this week, Collab allows musicians from across the globe to compose songs together using short-form videos that can be layered and played together in sync. This is ideal for those who have a great idea for a beat or bass line, but can’t quite think of the right melody. Because of its strictly 15-second stints, Collab is hardly likely to replace the best music notation software any time soon, but it’s bound to come in useful for those who need a bit of inspiration.
It’s clear that TikTok has played a role in inspiring Facebook’s Collab app. Like TikTok, when you open the Collab app you can scroll endlessly through different tunes, or click on user profiles or hashtags if you find something you enjoy. Both offer duets that allow strangers to interact and create content together from their smartphones, but Collab’s clear emphasis on music is what sets it apart.
How does Collab work?
According to Facebook, “everything you post on Collab is available for other community members to use, making virtual jamming possible at any time.” If you’re a keen creator you can also record your own 15-second track for others to riff along to. You can choose to add your own clip if inspiration strikes when you’re listening to Collabs, or you can swipe along to mix different tracks together and find the combination you prefer.
Collab allows a maximum of three videos to be played together in sync, meaning that drummers, pianists, and even classical singers can have their input on how a track sounds. You can scroll to mix and match clips by overlaying different sounds, and Collab will automatically sync these videos as you go.
You can also have multiple attempts at recording your own contribution to a tune you like, then "watch as others riff on top of your recording, give you some love, or add you as a favorite."
How music is adapting
COVID-19 has certainly changed how the music industry functions in the last few months, with beginners turning to online piano lessons to supplement in-person tuition. The best TV streaming services have filled in for world tours, and recently Taylor Swift partnered with Disney Plus to offer fans a stripped-back studio concert of her album “Folklore”. While your favorite artists are bound to go on tour again in the future, Collab could just be the app that keeps artists collaborating beyond the pandemic.
The Collab app is free to download on the App Store, but it’s only available to US users. We’ll keep you posted as it rolls out on Android, and in other countries.