9 Tips for Co-writing with Other Songwriters

Part of my role as a producer is to co-write material with the artists I’m producing. Sometimes we write brand new songs for a specific project and other times I will help them with tracks they’re having trouble finishing.

Co-writing is extremely fun and very rewarding. Whether it’s something new that you’d like to try or are seeking ways to make writing sessions run more smoothly, here are a few things to consider when songwriting with others:

Always Stay Humble and Kind

The first meeting with a new writer can be somewhat awkward, as it often requires being vulnerable and open with someone you’ve just met. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get to know each other. Taking a little bit of time to connect with someone really helps put everyone at ease. For me it’s an essential part of the writing process.

It’s all about the Song

It’s important to remember that the song comes first above all other things, and you need to find a way to not let your ego get in the way of your decision making. It is virtually impossible to let the music come alive if your sole agenda is to impress the other person. You are there to create something magical. Make sure your focus is in the right place.

Be Respectful

Everyone has a different approach to working and communicating, but if you want a session to run smoothly you should always be respectful towards your co-writer and their ideas. Listen to what they have to say and be open to their thoughts. If there’s something you don’t like about the direction they’re going in, make sure the feedback is constructive and delivered in a clear and kind way.

Get the Bulk of the Song Written First

…and then worry about editing later. In the beginning it’s great to get into a creative flow and document all your ideas without any restrictions. Editing too heavily in the beginning can be a vibe killer and it’s better to go back and edit after the bulk of the song has been created.

Don’t Settle for Less

Once you are at the editing phase, make sure that everything is as good as it can be. Don’t be afraid to go back and revisit a song after it’s finished. Be sure that every line has a powerful statement and the music supports the lyrics.

Focus on Your Strengths

Write with someone who excels in an area that is a weakness for you. For example, if you are a fantastic lyric writer but find music harder to create, then team up with someone whose strength is chords and melodies. I love working with artists who write in a totally different genre to me. It’s a lot of fun and I always learn something new.

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Know that sometimes it takes a few sessions to really understand how someone works. I’ve had sessions where it’s taken days for a song to appear. It’s all part of the process and just because you haven’t created anything immediately doesn’t mean you can’t work together. Having said that, if you don’t feel as though you gel with a particular writer, it’s totally ok to not work with them anymore. Be open to the process but always listen to your gut. It knows best.

Recording Sessions: In-Person or Remote Sessions

I have a few people who I write with remotely and we have created over 50 tracks together. I also know writers who hate working remotely and would much prefer to be in a shared space with other writers. There is certainly something magical that happens when a group of artists are sharing the same space, which is difficult to replicate online. But having said that, the benefit of writing remotely is you can work with anyone from anywhere, at any time and you open yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities, which is pretty inspiring.

Songwriter Splits / Agreements

I always discuss songwriting percentages in advance, that way you can completely focus on the task at hand. Everyone works differently, but to make life simple, I always do a 50/50 split with whoever I’m working with. It’s so much easier than figuring out what percentage a contribution is worth. Whatever you decide to do, make sure everyone understands exactly what the deal is, preferably before any songs have been created.

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