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Multiplayer DAWs and Remote Music Collaboration Apps in 2024

Artificial intelligence is changing the way we create and listen to music. As of 2024, anyone can boot up an AI song generator to create original tracks in minutes. People are sharing these creations on social media and getting the social validation that some musicians work hard to earn.

With every passing month, fan psychology is transforming from a passive consumer mindset to one where they expect to participate in the creation process. Artificial intelligence is the engine that makes this possible for non-musicians.

Before the end of year, I predict this early-stage solo experience of "instant-song creation" with AI will evolve into a robust peer-to-peer ecosystem of music collaboration apps. There's plenty of evidence to support this.

The digital audio market saw user-friendly, multiplayer DAWs surge in popularity during covid. People were looking for creative social experiences that extended beyond ordinary video games. Music Ally reported in late March 2024 that one of these remote DAWs, BandLab, reached a hundred million users.

In this article, we'll have a look at existing and upcoming multiplayer DAWs, to get a lay of the land and think about what's coming on the horizon. Before we jump into specific tools, let's have a moment to define our terms.

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What is a music collaboration app?

Music collaboration apps are a niche that specialize in remote music creation workflows between two or more people. They can cater to users of all skill levels, focusing on features that make it easier for users to collaborate in realtime.

What is a multiplayer DAW?

A multiplayer DAW is an advanced music collaboration app that combines traditional digital audio workstation layouts with realtime multi-user editing. Companies who market their products as multiplayer often include song contests, beat battles, and user interfaces that resemble a video game.

Most professional musicians would be offended if you referred to their craft as "gaming" but recent trends in AI and multiplayer DAWs may soon cause that to shift.

Our article on VR music games and DAWs offers a deep dive into virtual audio workstations like LyraVR, Virtuoso, Instrument Studio VR, SoundStage, SynthVR, SynthSpace and Electronauts. We've also covered the augmented reality music apps that bring these experiences into mixed reality.

So far, multiplayer DAWs have been served up on traditional web browser interfaces. However, this could change as the public warms up to VR headsets in the coming decade.

AI-powered adaptive music in video games is a closely related topic, and in 2024 we saw AI text-to-song generation company Splash Music pivot away from a browser app and back into music games. They have an upcoming title on the Steam marketplace that could push this category forward.

With all of that said, let's continue and have a look at some of the biggest players in the multiplayer DAW space today.

Soundation: Music collaboration app with AI

Soundation music collaboration app

Soundation is a free music collaboration app that includes a DAW interface with a large collection of audio samples, MIDI files, and virtual instruments to work with.

Moderators can create and maintain a shared space, inviting everyone in at once or selectively bringing users in at will. They can also remove users, maintaining control over the session to make sure it doesn't get out of hand. Streamer and YouTuber Ed Talenti provides an example of how that works in the video below:

Notice how Ed used time limits for his audience to jump in and make edits before getting kicked out. This is a great example of how a multiplayer DAW experience can be "gamified' in a collaborative rather than competitive context.

In April 2024, Soundation rolled out a brand new text-to-music AI sample generator called Gennie. Unlike the pseudo-AI loop remixer found on BandLab, Gennie uses neural synthesis to create original audio samples. The quality still has a way to go before catching up with Suno and Udio but it's a great proof of concept. Multiplayer jamming and beat battles

Endlesss is one of the most popular remote music collaboration tools. Compared to BandLab, they have a more robust AI audio toolset including Sounds.Studio, DrumNet and Neutone. Despite running in a browser, the app can integrate with most popular DAWs making it a better fit for serious music producers.

Their collaboration tool is called "multiplayer jamming" and is outlined at the 8:30 mark in the video above. When you open Endlesss Studio, there's a public jams icon on the left navigation toolbar. You can join existing jams or create your own and invite others to join you.

At the top of each jam you'll find a project history timeline that displays each of the changes made, along with the user who took that action. Updates are pushed to the group in realtime, so they see those changes in a matter of seconds.

Endless Studio Multiplayer DAW

Users have the option of publishing their Endlesss tracks into a community space. That interface, called the Rifff feed, is accessible to everyone else on the platform. They can browse, listen, and even remix your ideas. This feature can lead to collaborations with users who you don't know or who you didn't initially seek out partnership with. Just like multiplayer video games, you can make friends online.

Rules for the Endlesss beat battle competition

The biggest differentiator at Endlesss is a new beat battle initiative, which combines collaboration with competition. Anyone can host a challenge, set the rules, determine how the winners are selected, and so forth.

Endless beat battle signup

Endlesss is a great example of music turning into a kind of team sport. In fact, it's already been this way since the beginning of published music, but the market positioning and user experience is evolving to embody that spirit more overtly.

BeatConnect mDAW: Multiplayer Beat making

BeatConnect is currently in public beta and could be a promising option for remote music collaboration in the future. The demo above showcases a real session where musicians get together and make edits to a DAW project in real time.

The app has a very basic multitrack layout with a 16-step drum sequencer. At the bottom right corner of the app you'll find a marketplace button that gives you access to some initial sounds and effects.

At this time, it doesn't appear to have a piano roll for loading or editing MIDI. Advanced music producers may find the DAW a bit rudimentary for their needs. Fortunately, BeatConnect is able to pull in third party plugins (VST/AU) and you can load in audio files from your sample collection.

BeatConnect beat battle competition

BatConnect's strength seems to be in its community building. They're certainly living up to their multiplayer title by hosting ongoing beat battles. According to a graphic on their site, they published 525 battles in 2023, with over 1300 active participants and 93+ hours of audio submitted.

We'll be watching their development over the coming year and are excited to see how the DAW and multiplayer gaming experience progress.

Audiotool: Realtime collaboration with video chat

Next up is Audiotool, a free web DAW that specializes in realtime and asynchronous music collaboration through video, audio and text-chat. Their site hosts open sessions that anyone can join, to produce music together or just observe and learn from each other.

The Audiotool community is an active and vibrant scene, where out of 1 million+ published tracks, over half of them have been remixes or collaborations. They've nurtured a culture where producers and creatives create helpful tutorials and educational content.

Users regularly create and participate in challenges, sometimes in partnership with esports events. Check out the community board to get a feel for their multiplayer DAW contests.

Audiotool community remix

If producers allow others to remix their track, the symbol above appears on the track page. Users can open the track, learn how it was produced and publish a remix of the track.

As a more technical tool, with full control of wiring setups between devices, users come to the platform to go deep. There are loads of synthesizers, drum machines, effects, and mixing and routing tools to experiment with. This sets Audiotool apart from more surface level loop remixing sites like BeatConnect and Bandlab.

Leadership at the company have announced that they're currently revamping the browser experience to make it more user-friendly. Updates are expected to roll out over the next year, during 2024 and 2025.

BandLab: A social experience & musical journey

BandLab is a free digital audio workstation that runs in a web browser and specializes in remote music collaboration. People can work on new music projects solo or partner with others in real time, publishing directly to social media platforms with options for monetization.

Despite its reputation as an entry-level DAW, the app includes many of the essentials for creating high quality audio. They provide built in synths and drum machines, effect presets, amp simulators, and a sizable library of royalty-free samples.

BandLab social musician onboarding

When first signing up, the onboarding wizard asks whether you identify as an artist, social musician, or fan. The social component is a major differentiator from other DAWs. Music producers and audio professionals have historically operated their DAW on their own, even when facilitating a recording with session musicians.

BandLab's mission is to support the full musical journey. This means that the collaborative DAW is only step one in a greater process of sharing and promoting music.

You can see this intention reflected in the user dashboard, where social features outnumber creation and project library features by 10 to 3, as shown below:

Highlighting BandLab's music making vs social musician features

SongStarter: Bandlab's AI music generator

When users click "create" in the upper right corner of BandLab's dashboard, they are faced with the option to create an empty project or use SongStarter to generate an idea with artificial intelligence.

BandLab SongStarter AI music generator

The SongStarter AI generator is rudimentary and doesn't seem to have evolved since it originally launched. It belongs to a bygone era of music generation, where users selected a genre and hit generate with no other parameters.

Selecting a style in SongStarter

As you can see in the screenshot above, there's an enter lyric option, but it's inert. It doesn't generate singing AI vocals. It simply pastes your lyrics into a side panel on the DAW and populates the project title as shown here:

BandLab multiplayer DAW view

The so called "ai music" feature is closer to an algorithmic MIDI loop remixer. AI music transformed a lot in the past year and Bandlab has sadly not kept up with the times. If they were to make improvements here by partnering with generative audio companies like Suno or Udio, they could pass the audio output through their flagship Splitter. This would be transformational for the user experience.

Invite friends: BandLab's remote music collaboration tool

Inviting music collaborators into the BandLab DAW

There's an invite button in the upper right corner of the BandLab DAW that allows users to bring multiple users into the space. Anyone in the project can make changes to the project. There's a chat button in the bottom right corner that opens up a side panel where users can discuss anything.

That's the extent of their remote collaboration capabilities. Everything else in the DAW focuses on familiar music production workflows. Once published, the song enters their greater social sharing sphere, which falls outside the scope of this article.

AudioCipher MIDI Plugin: Beat maker puzzle game

Looking for novel ways to bring joy into your DAW experience and host challenges based on unconventional rules?

AudioCipher is a text-to-MIDI DAW plugin that turns words into melodies and chord progressions. It's something like a puzzle game for music producers, beat makers and composers.

Most AI services rely on text descriptions of musical styles, but Audiocipher uses a centuries-old technique called music cryptography to encode each letter into a music note.

Back in 2020, we launched a non-competitive, beat making challenge within our Discord community. Each music producer chose a word or phrase, showcasing how they were able to turn it into a finished beat. You can watch an example below or check out the full Cipher Circle playlist on youtube here.

In the near future, we may begin to see hardware-to-hardware and DAW-to-DAW synchronization from a company called SyncDNA. A recent demo posted by their CEO on LinkedIn showed how the cloud software enables realtime sync between mixing boards and user activity in the most popular DAWs.

We'll keep updating this article this year, with updates on the latest in collaborative music making!


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