Audio RecordingMusicMusic Business

Outsourcing Creative Work Using Freelance Platforms

I play a few different musical instruments, but certainly need help from other musicians get the sound I am looking for. For the album that I released earlier this year, I reached out to some of my favorite local musicians to add such parts as saxophone, fiddle, banjo, pedal steel, vocals, and double bass.

I recently discovered that freelance platforms such as Fiverr, Upwork, AirGigs, and SoundBetter can also connect musicians, songwriters, producers, etc. So, I decided to try it out.

I have a new instrumental song that required double bass in addition to the mandolin and guitar parts that I already recorded. So, I created an account on Fiverr and gave it a shot.

Enter my new friend Bruno from Brazil. I contacted him through Fiverr based on positive reviews and the sound samples that were on his profile. Here’s how this worked:

  1. I recorded the guitar and mandolin parts for this instrumental song
  2. I sent Bruno the mix of those 2 instruments and simply asked him to add the double part. I gave almost no instruction except for some guidelines to one particular section in the song. For the rest of the tune, I asked him to “play whatever he feels”. By the way, he speaks English which was good because my Portuguese is zero.
  3. He sent back an audio file of his double bass part which I then added to the song
  4. I mixed everything together and voilà.

Here’s the result:

So what is happening here? Globalization. Technology. Etc.

This is not a new thing. Technology and globalization are allowing work to be outsourced around the world. Many times this results in lower labor costs. Many times this results in better outcomes due to cultural diversity.

What may be relatively new, is outsourcing the work of a session musician, like I did here.

The advantages of using a freelance platform in the creative process like I did here are what you would expect.

  • Lower cost – The double bass part from Bruno cost me $25. This is significantly cheaper that hiring a local musician.
  • Faster – On Fiverr, they define specific completion times for the tasks that are ordered. In my example, I believe the time frame was 3 to 5 days.
  • Access to creative input that comes from a different culture and/or background that you might not have available in your local area.
  • It’s fun to work with people around the world and make new connections!

However, when comparing this experience to hiring local musicians for my album, there are also disadvantages.

  • You cannot get a deep knowledge of the musician’s playing style through a freelance platform. This is compared to working with someone in your local community who you probably know well and have worked with in the past.
  • Communication is limited to messages. I could be wrong, but I don’t think there is an opportunity to speak to the person whom you are hiring.
  • There is criticism of this that says we are encouraging a “race to the bottom” in terms of labor costs. This mirrors the criticism of any industry that is offshoring its labor force. But, this isn’t only about money as I have stated above.
  • All the benefits of a “buy local” philosophy are reasons why you might want to work with artists in your local community.

My experience working with Bruno through Fiverr was positive and I was very happy with the results. Depending on your priorities and goals, hiring through a freelance platform can be a great option.

For a great in-depth analysis on 2 of these platforms, Upwork and Fiverr, check out this post from my friends at Time Doctor.

Upwork vs. Fiverr: Features and Benefits of Both Platforms

What is your experience with freelance platforms?

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