In Nick Laroche’s experience, there’s always been a need for accessible tools in the music realm. “We’ve had the idea of doing remote collaboration for years, but the music industry hasn’t ever offered a solution for most musicians,” he says. “When COVID hit, I said, you know what, I’m going to see if I can actually do something.”
With the present surge in virtual collaboration and long-term sustainability in mind, Laroche co-founded BeatConnect, which lets musicians work together online from the comfort of their own creative spaces. Users can install BeatConnect as a VST plugin that lets them open up a virtual studio directly from their audio workstation. They can then invite other artists to join their session either in real time or for asynchronous work. Available for macOS and Windows, it supports major DAWs like Ableton, GarageBand, FL, and many others, maximizing compatibility for all users. And its Premium version is priced at a level any musician can afford: a one-time fee of $29.95.
From the user’s point of view, BeatConnect is compatible with any level of technical expertise. As a plugin, it requires no extra setup. Users can install the software and start jamming right away, with persistent in-app text chat (and video chat for Premium users) available as they work in a shared studio. Not a producer? BeatConnect’s standalone version lets musicians record vocals and instrumentals without needing a DAW, and integrates seamlessly with users who have the plugin.
BeatConnect’s pricing tiers keep the service low-barrier. Its free Lite version allows three users per session, while Premium allows for up to five. Whether you’re working in Lite or Premium, BeatConnect provides a convenient, time-saving alternative to emailing bulky WAV files back and forth, and cloud storage adds a failsafe protecting musicians from inevitable technical glitches or user error. “Musicians are not project managers. Every musician I know has screwed up their computers and sometimes lost years’ worth of projects,” says Laroche. “With everything in the cloud, you can reload it on a different computer and all your sounds are still there.”
Laroche knows how exciting musical collaborations can be and how stressful it often is to make them happen. “My friends live in different cities,” he says. “So many weekends I rush home, shovel my gear into my car, get stuck in traffic for three hours, so excited to jam all weekend, and when I start plugging in I realize I forgot a cable. I get so mad!”
Life constantly comes between musicians and face-to-face jam sessions.”They’ve got to work all day, they take care of their kids, so they can’t make music with their friends anymore,” Laroche says. When they hear about BeatConnect, “they see the door open. They didn’t even know it was possible to do something like this.”
For BeatConnect, those moments of community are crucial, and accessibility is a core value. “Most of our users right now are bedroom producers,” notes co-founder Alexandre Turbide, whose workplace meeting with Laroche and project management expertise brought BeatConnect to life. “You don’t need to have high quality gear or the perfect internet connection to work with BeatConnect because of our straightforward workflow.”
“You can still make and export music with the free version,” adds design lead Yohan Antoine-Édouard, whose vision and experience in UX/UI design has been central to BeatConnect’s user-friendliness. “It’s still a comfortable space.”
With virtual collaboration increasingly common in music, BeatConnect couldn’t be a more timely option for maximum accessibility. “A lot of creators tell us that because of the pandemic, they’ve set up their home studio in such a way that they don’t want to leave it anymore. If they can make the music from there, it’s so much better for them. I think that’s here to stay,” says Antoine-Édouard.
That interest in using a personal workspace has longer-term implications. “If it’s not COVID,” says Turbide, “it’s going to be something else tomorrow. It’s become apparent that many areas of our lives are completely underserved in terms of collaborative tools.”
Laroche agrees. “If you’re a professional musician, time is money. Being able to go back and forth with BeatConnect helps people with time management and efficiency.”
At the end of the day, “it’s about connecting people, not just systems.”