In the last couple of years, the nature of how humans communicate with each other has undergone a total revolution. Video conferencing over the Internet has spread into pretty much every industry and every household. From quizzes to escape rooms, business meetings to photoshoots. Words and phrases such as “Microsoft Teams”, “Video apps”, “Zoom alternatives” and “I think you’re on mute” have become very much part of the global vocabulary.
For musicians stuck at home and unable to rehearse or perform, the obvious question is whether or not it is possible to use a service like Zoom or Skype. If you’ve got as far as trying to use apps like Zoom for musical purposes, you’ll have probably encountered the 2 main issues. Latency and audio.
Playing in time with somebody else over an internet connection is extremely difficult. Additionally, latency within the platform makes it almost impossible for most users.
Even if your connection is lightning quick, the audio you hear is reduced. This means that it again becomes difficult to hear the people you are on a call with. Which quickly leads most musicians down a path of searching for workable Zoom alternatives.
Well, this is where we come in. Consider this the ultimate guide to Zoom alternatives for musicians – let’s dive in!
So what is the best group video call app?
Here is a roundup of 5 of the best Zoom alternatives that we have come across.
LANDR Sessions claims to be the first purpose-built video-conferencing application aimed exclusively at musicians.
The audio is a direct feed from the LANDR DAW. Additionally, with built-in functionality for screen sharing, it allows musicians to work on the same project in the same DAW very easily in real-time. Without the need for the sending of large files back and forth.
As with all things LANDR, the interface is really well designed and easy to use. There is also a free trial through the LANDR website, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
It is essentially a DAW on the internet where musicians can all work on the same track and add their bits from wherever they are.
The really cool thing is that BandLab works on pretty much any device you can think of. Whether your collaborators are using Macs, PCs, Android, or iOS devices – anyone can get involved. It also offers incredible flexibility in working on your own projects.
Again, not strictly a video conferencing solution, but WeTransfer is an incredible solution for sending ideas between band members.
Using Logic Pro X, I would ‘host’ the project and pull in all the audio so it all lines up together. Mixes would be sent to other members via WeTransfer.
Then the full project was sent to the mixing engineer for the final work. WeTransfer does offer a paid option with some nice features for professionals, but the free version is absolutely perfect for most users.
ConnectionOpen is a really interesting piece of software. It works alongside your DAW (Pro-Tools, Logic, etc) and is applied to a session as a plug-in. This then allows you to conference with other musicians and they hear the output from your DAW.
The software is marketed as low-latency. However, as with all things internet-based, latency can have an impact especially if one of the users’ broadband connection is poor.
However, with this kind of solution, even if there is a latency, you still have the option of realigning the audio post-recording and it will line up.
Reaper is pretty well regarded as an entry into the world of DAWs. It’s often listed as one of the best DAWs available. Generally because of the low cost associated. As well as the fact that it is quite lightweight, in terms of how much space it takes up on a machine.
The key feature that brings it into the list as a Zoom alternatives host is their new Ninjam plugin. Reaper has overcome the traditional issue musicians have with most video apps – latency. They did this by measuring the latency between users overcompensating for it. The end result is an in-time jam session so long as everyone involved is playing to a click.
Ninjam also allows you to record in the same way. This means you don’t have to compensate for the latency as the system automatically lines it up for you.
If you’re looking for the best video chat app, then Ninjam might not work as it doesn’t support video calling. However, you can always sync up with other alternatives to Zoom by using another group video call app like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
In conclusion, it’s difficult to pinpoint a single best group video call app for musicians, especially if you’re only looking for free alternatives to Zoom.
I think the best results are generally achieved by changing your mindset when it comes to how you approach collaboration remotely. What I mean by this, is that trying to look for a solution to replicate what it’s like to collaborate and jam in real life, will typically leave you rather disappointed.
So, what works best for me is the approach of working on my own parts for recording in my home studio where I’m super familiar with the technology. Then, using WeTransfer to send nuggets of ideas back and forth all over the world. Of course, if I need to discuss ideas, then Zoom, Whatsapp, and Skype all have their part to play.
We hope that you found these Zoom alternatives useful! Is there a particular video call app that works for you as a musician? Let us know in the comments below – we would love to hear from you!