Do you want to begin writing with other songwriters, but are too nervous to start? Have you co-written, but feel like you’re hitting a wall? Have no fear! At Jacob Burton Studios we’ve got your back, and some great tips to build the confidence you need to get started as well as ideas to keep things fresh in future co-writing sessions. Let’s get started!
- Start your session with the skeleton of songs already in place
This is the simplest way to build your confidence going into a co-write. If you already have unfinished material to work on, you will be sure to avoid the awkward silence that you’re low-key dreading. Some years ago, I met with a close friend for a writing session. Before I arrived, I had already written a verse, chorus, and bridge to two different songs. I knew in advance that one song needed a second verse and the other needed lyrical corrections. Because I had arrived at a dead end with both songs, it made perfect sense for me to bring them to the table in a writing session and to correct verse inconsistencies with the fresh eyes a co-writer . The inspiration that helped me form the beginning of the song was great, but unfortunately it only provided me half of a song. What our writing session provided was the rest of that song! Beginning with a launching pad in place will ensure that the time is as beneficial, and as comfortable as possible.
- Use rhyme dictionaries and recording devices to quicken productivity
This is a simple tip that will ensure great results. Whenever you’re writing, make sure you have some type of tablet or computer with a rhyme dictionary open at all times. Use your phone to record every take you sing to make sure if you do something you like, you don’t run the risk of forgetting it immediately after. Because inspiration and ideas can come and go like the wind, it is important to have tools like this at your fingertips when they strike. Sometimes using these devices feels like you’re moving slower, but in the long run they ultimately boost productivity by avoiding many potential mistakes and speed bumps along the way.
- Figure out what you’re good at, what your partner is good at, and capitalize on your individual strengths
You have some amazing strengths! Yes, you! I’m talking to you. Dang, you really can write amazing songs! We all have areas of our songwriting where we shine. It’s important to play to those strengths. In one writing session I attended, we realized that my writing partner was a master at lyrics and that I was stronger with melodies. This was an extremely helpful realization to make early on. Knowing this, my writing partner provided for me an encyclopedia of lyrics that desperately needed music. Because music is my comfort zone, I felt like I had found a pot of gold! Instead of forcing her to be musical or forcing me to be a lyrical genius, we capitalized on each other’s strengths and were able to produce songs that neither one of us could have created individually. That’s the beauty of co-writing and the value of playing to your strengths.
- Be married to little, and open to all
When you have created something on your own and then bring it to the table in a writing session, it’s hard to not be married to your own ideas. It’s difficult when someone wants to change your melody or one of your lyrics because they claim to have a better substitute. That melody or lyric came out of your creative energy, and in some deep way you’re already connected to it. By letting go of that attachment and allowing yourself to be open to the ideas of others, you allow yourself to walk away from tendencies as a songwriter that could potentially keep you one-dimensional or monotonous. Being unwilling to waver on your creative ideas can ultimately make you a very difficult person to work with, which also makes collaboration and creativity challenging as well. So, if you’re going to be married to something, it had better be good and you better have a good reason for it. Otherwise, approach this as an opportunity to be open to new ideas.
There you have it! Four songwriting tips for anyone stepping into a co-writing session. That said, no matter who you’re writing with or how nervous you feel, make sure you are having fun! If you enjoy what you are creating, then chances are one day your audience will enjoy what they are hearing as well.