When it comes to your musical projects, sometimes you just plain need a helping hand.

Whether it’s for bouncing around ideas or simply taking some pressure off of your shoulders, finding someone else to write or perform with can totally take your music to the next level. As noted by Cymatics.fm, working with a fellow composer or songwriter is a great way to both break through a plateau and get inspired at the same time.

Of course, there’s always the issue of finding the right fit and ensuring that you work with someone who shares your creative vision, drive and goals.

So, what do you need to know if you’re on the hunt for someone to work with either in-person or digitally? Consider the following five tips to make the task of finding and working with a future collaborator much less daunting.

Look Outside Your Circle of Friends

Oftentimes it’s beneficial to look beyond your immediate friend group to find someone to work with. While it may seem tempting to stick to your circle of friends, collaborating with someone you don’t have a long-term personal relationship with makes for fewer hurt feelings and room for honest feedback when there’s strife. Furthermore, a new personality in your life might be exactly what you need to get the creative juices flowing.

Set Crystal Clear Expectations

Before you begin putting pen to paper, make sure that you iron out the fine details of what you’ll be working on together. The Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership is an example of doing double-duty in terms of songwriting and instrumentation. Likewise, don’t expect your collaborator to be a master vocalist or drummer if you haven’t discussed it beforehand.

Tension arises when it feels that someone in your project isn’t pulling their weight creatively. By defining beforehand what each person is going to contribute to the projects, there’s more accountability and fewer question marks surrounding who should be doing what.

Decide if You Need a “Leader”

Although some collaborations are true partnerships, many groups designate a specific leader for making tough decisions regarding live performances, marketing and other “business” decisions. If you’re primarily focused on the creative aspect of musicianship, there’s nothing wrong with letting someone else take the reigns if those finer details play to their strengths. That said, don’t hold a grudge if they are seen as the go-to “leader” by your fans and followers.

Agree on Your Goals

When considering why bands break up, oftentimes groups dissolve because there was a disconnect between the goals of its members. Just as in the case of a real relationship, your collaboration isn’t going to last long if one of you is laser-focused on touring while the other just wants to record as a hobby. Aligning your goals is one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of a partnership lasting for the long-term.

Give Each Other Space

Rarely are songwriting partners always attached at the hip, nor should they be. Providing your musical partner with space is crucial to ensuring that you both bring new ideas to the table and have the freedom to get inspired on your own time. When you’re constantly cooped up together, you’re much more likely to argue.

Picking a collaborator is undoubtedly a big deal and there’s a lot to look for in any given partner. Sticking to these tips can help you understand who to look and what to ask so you can find the perfect fit your next project.

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