It’s a valid question.
Why co-write at all? I mean, you know how to write songs, and other people sort of get in the way of your ideas anyway.
Valid . . . but . . . co-writing is a way for you to progress quickly with your songwriting.
And, if you plan on being part of the Nashville scene or pop music songwriting network, it’s a key part of doing business.
After all, it’s hard to network or make connections if you’re never talking to anyone else!
In order to get the most out of co-writing, you’ll need to decide what co-writing is for you.
To get your name on as many songs as possible with the hopes of others actively pitching so you may end up with a cut?
Adding someone to the mix who’s skills compliment your strengths and offset your weaknesses, creating a better song outcome?
Because you enjoy spending time with the person, admire their songwriting and you’re on the same wave length lyrically or musically?
Each of these has a very different emotional and business level commitment. Know your motivations going into the co-write. This will also help inform your expectations.
Getting Your Name On As Many Songs As Possible
- This one tends to be all about business and taking advantage of the song pitching process. Consider this one inventory building and increasing the odds of success.
- These are an integral part of the “music business” and the primary type of co-write in the big cities, and as a result, they’re often a bit of a manufacturing session.
- If you’re trying to write highly personal, emotionally-centric songs, this one will leave you disappointed unless you find someone that’s an emotional match.
Adding Someone’s Skills To Offset Your Weaknesses
- If you have the self-awareness to know that writing melodies is not your strong suite, and have found someone who is great at it, that’s fantastic. Co-writes that result in other people’s strengths being added to your own often result in a “next level” song for you as well as the other person.
- In my view, these tend to be the best types of co-writes to pursue when starting to co-write.
Hang Time With Someone You Respect/Admire
- These types of co-writes are just fun. There’s nothing better than sitting with a friend or fellow songwriter whose music you enjoy and writing together.
- When you need an emotional lift or some time that reaffirms you’re not alone in the world, these kinds of co-writes always help. You may not get a hit song, but who cares. It was an afternoon well spent with a friend.
Often, co-writing is easier said than done.
After all, once you share a song idea with someone and start writing it, their name is on it. Even if you decide to change every word or note they contributed, ethically, you should keep their name on the song.
And, let’s admit it, if we have some killer song idea, we may not want to share.
Fight that feeling and take the leap. If for no other reason than “Yes, I’ve co-written songs” you should commit to doing a few each year.
So how do you get started?
- Meet People
- Join a local songwriting group or song circle
- Attend retreats and conferences You can always co-write via skype or some other video conferencing platform
- Have Song Ideas Ready
- Create 2 – 3 song idea prep sheets you only use for co-writes
- Have some partial songs developed (verse and chorus)
- Keep a hook list that you’re OK with using for co-writes only
- Give yourself a prompt assignment and get down the page in 2 hours
- Go back and edit once you’re all the way through the song
- Your goal is to be able to quickly create lines and melodies
There are a number of reasons to co-write, but knowing why you’re doing it can help you not only determine which ideas to share, but also make you more comfortable in the room and with the outcome of the session.
There’s nothing worse than leaving a co-write and feeling like nothing was gained.
In order for your co-writing sessions to be a step in a positive direction:
- Identify why you’re in the room
- Define your goal from the session before you go
- Make sure you’re co-writing with someone that provides a positive experience
- Co-Writers: Who’s Your Match?
- Co-Writes Can End With Two Versions Of A Song
- Co-Writing 101: Getting Started With Co-Writing
- How Ed Sheeran Created “Shape Of You”
- NPR Project Song Moby & Kelli Scarr