10 tips for musicians working remotely from home by Anthony Kaoteon

(Image credit: Anthony Kaoteon)

The outbreak of the coronavirus has created a lot of fear and anxiety in many countries. And isolation can be a major source of it. Musicians make money from being on the road, doing shows, and selling merchandise, but when it comes to creating new material and writing music, a band gets together to brainstorm ideas. 

Anthony Kaoteon is a Lebanese musician who has always been cursed by working in isolation as his passport doesn't allow him a lot of liberty and he depends on his day job work sponsorship to live in Europe. While he is concerned that a financial crisis could result in him being sent back to Lebanon, his experiences as a musician so far have given him insight he's offered to share with us.

Anthony's formed his extreme metal project Kaoteon in Beirut in 1998 and was awarded the Global Metal Award at the 2018 Metal Hammer Golden Gods. |The band released its self-titled album at the beginning of 2020.

Antony's other project Death Tribe released their debut album Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment in 2019. 

Here are ten tips from a lifetime of working remotely with other musicians - Anthony has worked remotely with a lot of talented players from around the globe, including Adrian Erlandsson (At The Gates, ex-Cradle Of Filth) to Baard Kolstad (Leprous) and Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura) to name a few. If you're new to working remotely, these tips will come in handy

1. Develop a Regular Schedule

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Set a starting time and make sure you commit to it. Having a clear framework of how your days will look like makes it easier for you to stay focused and get things done. If you don't, you will most probably slack and then find yourself working at odd times without work-life balance. 

It goes without saying that musicians enjoy flexibility but during times like these you don't want to end up binge watching a series instead of being productive.

2. Get out of your pajamas

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Your morning routine is particularly important as that will lead you to start being productive. If you end up wearing the same clothes for days, it will soon become hard to drag yourself out of bed. Get up, freshen up, change up and start working on whatever your music needs from you. 

Be it new music, new merchandise, a new music video, everything can be done remotely if you put your mind to it. I have worked on five albums so far without meeting the artists on the album; everyone from the musicians to video producers, artwork as well as mixing and mastering.

3. Establish some rules with your partner and/or kids

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Make sure everyone around you understands which area of the house is your creative space. Set some rules about what can be done or cannot be done during the time you're working. For example, it might be better for them to listen to their music on headphones while you are working.

4. Take breaks throughout your day 

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Take a walk if permitted in the park next door. If not, go out to your own back garden. if that's not available, zone out on something totally different than what you are working on. Make sure your lunch time is not your only break time. 

5. Cook your own meals 

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Cooking may not be your best talent but it is a great time to think about a lot of the things that you need done. And it costs far less money than ordering out. Most of the time, when you are conscious about the ingredients then you will opt for healthier options. 

6. Stay positive 

(Image credit: Anthony Kaoteon)

When communicating with people you are working with  keep a positive tone. Sometimes you need be over-positive as digital communications can often appear much more negative when their perception is open to interpretation. 

Ensure you are always giving constructive feedback and ask yourself, "Am i being clear and considerate?"

7. See things from others' perspectives

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Don't expect that others have read article like this one and figured out that simple things make working from home more comfortable. People will sometimes be frustrated from dealing with their own demons. Be understanding, expect delays and offer support to your band mates and creative partners. Communication is key.

8. Use video conferencing 

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Although audio works just fine, seeing people facial expressions is a huge part of socialising. There is a huge difference between a phone call and a video call. Try to make sure you get some face time whenever possible.

9. Don't push yourself too hard when you procrastinate

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Discipline is important and it takes serious skill to work in isolation and be creative from an unconventional space. That said, everyone is prone to procrastination.

If you find yourself working one minute and watching TV the second, don't hate your brain for asking for a break. Don't reprimand yourself too harshly. Instead, allow yourself to take a break and don't worry if you fall behind schedule every now and then.

10. Schedule the end of your productive day

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We started with ensuring that you have a starting time to kick off the day. Ending the day is as important to ensure that you free your mind, recharge and get going again with extra motivation the next day.

To ensure that you will stop at a certain time, schedule an activity afterwards. It could be the gym or walking the dog or just cooking dinner with your partner. Whatever it is, do it regularly to mark the end of your day.

Anthony is currently working on new Death Tribe album remotely with Baard Kolstad (Leprous). Kaoteon's self-titled is album is available now via Bandcamp.com