Two Pens Can Be Better Than One: co-writing songs for artistic and commercial success
There’s sometimes a stigma associated with co-writing, as if there’s a purity to the “solitary creator” in music. We’d like to dispel the bad reputation of co-writing and say, categorically, these lone geniuses are a dime a dozen.
All you have to do to find examples of artistically successful co-writers is look to some of your biggest musical idols — like Bowie, a writer who knew that good creation comes from good collaboration.
We’re so passionate about this concept that we’ve created a whole app with this philosophy at its core. Now, when you’re in a band setting, or using the app, you can put into practice the tips below. Some of them might sound practical or obvious, but if you’ve ever been in a band, you’ll know that fighting happens pretty much constantly. So, take some of these key tips below and if you bring them to your band practice, everyone will thank you for it, trust us.
Let Go, Ego
As a songwriter, one of the best things you can do for yourself is ask: “Are my creative choices in the best interest of the song, or myself?” It’s a tough question to grapple with – as you’re necessarily battling against your own ego. Many creatives and musicians are dead-set on being “right” – but what you’ll quickly realize, as soon as you collaborate with other voices and artists, is that there are a million different ways to be right. So let go of your ego and think of the good of the song.
Collaboration and co-writing is a creative choice that can get you in the headspace to make giant leaps in your songs. When two (or more) voices come together, you’ve got a chance to do something special; as you take the control out of one pair of hands into many. And once you do, you’ll realize that when your songs improve from the help of others, so do you.
Know Your Strengths… and Weaknesses
Any job interview you’ve ever gone to – employers will ask what are your strengths, and what are your weaknesses. The latter might come off as a trick question, but what it reveals is how exactly do you work with others? Same mentality goes for a band.
If you know your weaknesses, you can easily complement them with the help of a talented friend. Knowing you’re great at writing a structurally sound pop hit, but maybe not the most technically sound player means that you can rely on others to support you with their wizardry in music theory. And when everyone knows how to maximize their strengths and complement one another, well, there are no weaknesses!
Co-Writing Makes The Industry Go Round
If you’re lucky enough to captivate an audience, and start recording with professionals like producers, engineers and even other artists, the music climate around you will inevitably have a say in the music you make. And what many will say is – write a song that will sell. Now don’t start pulling your hair out, we know you’re an artist and your work shan’t be compromised. But if sticking to your guns, you have to know why you are being esoteric.
What co-writing does is allows for someone in the industry to bring in their knowledge of popular music and apply it to your unique voice. Think of it like this – no matter what you do, your voice will shine through. If that means applying your signature warbly guitar to a structure that is palatable to a large group of people – it might be worth listening to and ultimately, be more rewarding for your music.
So, Now What?
If you’re dead-set on making music alone – we commend you. But, as you’ll no doubt have noticed – creation is always a collaboration, so you might as well embrace it as a philosophy. Co-writing has stretched the artistic barriers of music, stringing together multiple genres, styles and influences into three and a half minutes of pop bliss. It may be a good way to make your song stand out from your own back-catalog, and even kick-start your career.
We’ve seen plenty of artists rise from co-writes and collaborations, especially in hip-hop, where it’s common to see 3 or 4 artists perform on a single song! A great thing about co-written songs is their ability to be relatable. By combining the experiences of multiple artists, a song can speak louder to a more massive audience. There’s no shame for letting in someone else’s insights that you may have overlooked.
Author bio: Russell Sheffield is the co-founder of Trackd, an app that helps you take your musical collaborations to the next level. He’s a drummer by day and by night he manages some incredible bands. Before Trackd he had success in FinTech and design. Russ’s biggest skill is uncovering amazing talent and linking people together to get huge results.