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Get Out of Your Bubble to Co-Write!

March 28, 2011
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by  Scott Honsberger

Most songwriters that you meet are extremely passionate about their craft.  So passionate, in fact, that it can sometimes lead to working entirely in a bubble, so as to ensure that nothing “gets in the way” of their art. The irony, of course, is that sometimes that bubble is the exact thing that DOES get in the way of their creative development.

Musicians frequently ask me about how to get better as a songwriter, and one of the first things I suggest is co-writing.  This can be a scary thing to some, primarily because it’s not always clear what co-writing entails.

Essentially, co-writing is getting together with another songwriter to write songs.  Sometimes, these sessions have a specific purpose, like writing a song for an album, contest, or TV placement.  There are professional songwriters (a plethora of them living in LA & Nashville) whose job it is to simply crank out music for a wide array of reasons like those just mentioned. 

However, co-writing for a specific purpose is just one part of the equation.  Sure, if you need help fine-tuning that last track of your record, bringing in a co-writer makes sense. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t set up regular co-writing sessions ‘just because.’ It’s often these sessions that lead to the most creative development, and sometimes, a great song just happens (who hasn’t heard THAT story told from a stage?).

So what do these sessions look like? Well, it can be anything you want them to be, but my biggest bit of advice would be to keep it casual. Make your sessions more about spending time with others doing what you love to do, rather than about cranking out hits or whatnot, and good things will happen.

Of course, one of the not so fun, but essential, conversations that has to take place before you co-write is discussing song-splits.  If, by chance, you do write a song that sees commercial success, how will you split up the credit/royalties? 50/50? 75/25, depending on who played the first riff? Another way? Clear this up on paper before you start, so you’ll be able to relax and let the creative juices flow.

Lastly, don’t forget about the promotional benefits of co-writing.  If you do write a song that you deem to be performance or recording worthy, you’ll be able to cross-promote with your partner at shows, on your CD, via social networking sites, etc.

Co-writing is an essential part of creative growth.  Get out there, meet other songwriters, and write! You’ll be contributing to the community, growing as an artist, and who knows? Maybe you’ll even meet your Garfunkel, Oates, or McCartney.

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Scott Honsberger is the founder of Your Band’s Best Friend, which offers education, information, and insight on the music industry in a one-on-one consultation setting.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ed Subotich permalink
    August 13, 2011 5:15 pm

    Just read Scott Honsberger’s column about co-writing and loved it. Right on the money. I have been one of those people in “a bubble”, for many reasons, including being on the shy side and not playing with others for many years.

    I’ve been thinking of doing some co-writing but just kept putting off probably because it means leaving my comfort zone.

    My plan is to join the SAC in September and start connecting with people through The Ottawa Musician Idea Exchange. I’ve also marked Sept. 21 at Gracie O’Malley’s down in my calendar. I intend to come by and check it out.

    I’m glad to have stumbled across you folks this afternoon. I may however need some coaxing to get me out of my musical shell.

    Ed Subotich

  2. mabvuto chimtsitsi permalink
    April 11, 2012 1:35 am

    hey guys,
    why are music house do charge for lyrics to be set with music,yet many a proffessionals say no that?
    Where can l co write withou any difficulties as mentioned earlier.

    My writings favours country and pop genres.

    Your help please.
    Sincerely,
    Mabvuto.

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