Around the "Oh, this is going to be a while" realization portion of Quaratimes, I began organizing a cover project called Everyone Plays the Same Song, in which all musicians participating record their interpretation of the same song. It has been a rewarding project, and in this post I want to distill down the basics of how it's done, and how you can replicate it. I'll go over the tenets, tools and actual implementation steps of the project itself.
If you're interested in learning more about the project itself or listening to the covers, here is its official page. We've had two rounds at the time of this writing, and Signups for round 3 are open.
The structure and tools that make Everyone Plays the Same Song work -
- Understand what a finished round or project looks like, and set deadlines. No matter how arbitrary, everyone needs to know when something begins and when something ends. Make it clear to everyone involved what complete looks like.
- Make it easy and fun to be involved. The creative work should be the hard part, not the signup. Try to make being involved rewarding at every step of the way.
- Include a celebration of completion. Everyone deserves a reward for a job well done, and especially in these Quarantimes, it's important to carve out time to celebrate something.
- Include a social component. I almost included this point in with #3. Our listening party is both the celebration of completion and social component, but I recognize they can be separate. There's a lot of value in feeling connected with the people you're doing something with.
- Google forms for signups, voting, cover submission, surveys.
- Email for mass communication to everyone participating. I also text people / IG or FB message people individually as needed.
- Soundcloud for hosting the playlist, the project deliverable.
- Google Meet for video conferencing. Any conferencing platform would do.
- I use a blogpost on my website - probably the site you're reading this on - as a landing page for the project, with links to the signup and pertinent information.
All forms are sent out over email
Signups - To sign up, each participant submits a song they're interested in covering. I send out the signup sheet for the round and set an arbitrary deadline for when signups close. I publish this on the website and send it to my musician friends to see if they'd like to participate.
Cover Song Selection - I then create another Google Form to allow participants to vote on the songs, 1 to 5. Once the submissions are in, I take all the songs submitted, put then into a playlist and task the participants to vote on the songs. Voting closes a week or so out, and the song with the most votes is the cover song for the round. We also vote on how much time we have to record the cover - somewhere between 2 to 4 weeks.
Song Submission - There is yet another Google Form for song submission. I ask participants to upload their covers to Soundcloud and provide the soundcloud link in the submission form. I also ask a few questions about their experience with the project, and when they are available for the listening party.
Listening Party - The listening party is held over Google Meet, scheduled based on the submission form answers. We listen to each song over headphones at the same time, and provide adulation for and feedback on each version. The two listening parties so far have been an absolute blast.
In parting, I hope you use these tools and techniques to bring communities together and work on something cool. What cool thing you ask? I don't know - that's your thing. Do your thing.